Living with a Dutch family: how Natalie became a true Amsterdammer!
Before coming to Amsterdam, I didn’t know whether living with a host family would be the right fit for me. Now that I am here, I am so glad I choose this option. I have been in Amsterdam for a little over two months now and some of my favorite memories and experiences have been with my host family. Ever since arriving, they have treated me as their own and this has made such a positive impact on my time here.
During the first few weeks of living in Amsterdam, it was quite the adjustment moving into a new home. My host family made the transition really comfortable and it was fun to talk about the differences between our cultures. Through these conversations and interactions, I have learned a lot about Dutch traditions, social norms, and possible day-to-day encounters. While living with them, I have had the opportunity to join them in activities and on trips they have planned. Some of these include: going to my host sister’s softball games; attending a classical concert in the canal; taking part in neighborhood events; having dinner with Dutch family friends; and the list goes on. Each of these activities or trips has opened my eyes to new perspectives and new places. Recently, I had the chance to meet my family in the north of the Netherlands to go sailing with them. During this trip, we lived on the boat and sailed on the Ijsselmeer and through other lakes and channels in the Friesland area. It was an amazing experience! I not only got to live on a boat but I also got to see an entirely different part of the country.
Although I love taking part in my host family’s trips, my favorite part of all is simply being part of their daily lives. Most days we eat breakfast and dinner together. Oftentimes, I help cook dinner with my host dad and during the meal we all catch up on our days. In the evenings, we sometimes watch TV together, play games, eat dessert, or go on walks. I am learning so much about what it means to be surrounded by a different culture but also to be immersed in it. It’s amazing how open-minded I have become through living in a new environment and adapting to a new normal. In the beginning, I was unsure about how I could adjust my lifestyle to fit theirs but I was willing to learn their way of life. Coming from the States, I was not used to eating so much bread throughout the day, using smaller bathrooms, and sharing more of the living space. Although my new way of life varies from my life back home, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It has been so interesting getting to know how other people live and I now find myself trying to blend in as a true Amsterdammer. Not only is studying in Amsterdam an amazing experience but being part of a family has enhanced it tenfold.