AFS Year High School Abroad in The Netherlands

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About Program

Year: Take on the Dutch lifestyle for a year by living with a host family and attending a local high school. A highlight of the school system in Holland that most schools have adopted is a "survival week" in the Belgian Ardennes Forest. You can form bonds with your fellow students and create an experience that you will never forget on this special trip. You could be placed in a variety of locations throughout the Netherlands, though most likely will be in a small town. Because Holland is such a small country, access to bigger towns and cities is easy. Some regions are very rural, particularly in the north.

Dutch food is simple and nourishing and represents a mixture of European cooking styles. Breakfast during the week can be a bit haphazard as individual family members fend for themselves, depending on their schedules. There is usually bread and cheese, marmalade or peanut butter. Often on Sundays, the family will eat a special breakfast together.

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Program Reviews

8.5 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 50%
  • 7-8 rating 25%
  • 5-6 rating 25%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Growth 9
  • Support 8.3
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
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No, I don't recommend this program

AFS Netherlands

I almost went abroad with AFS but, I find the programs are too expensive and a little shaky. For the most part the host families are solid but, I have friends who have lived with host families who after a few months wanted them to leave and had a history of doing this. The rules are slightly different than with other programs and it sort of feels like an exchange machine trying to spit out as many students as it can. Overall it is a solid program but, I would recommend going with a different organization.

2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A Journey Towards Me

There I was, ten months into my eleven month experience, sitting around a table with my entire host family, who had become more like my real family, my best friend, Ninnog, whom I had met at my dutch school, and my mom who came to visit for the occasion. It was my birthday and I was about to receive the most exciting news of my entire exchange.

Ninnog was going on a trip to the south of France the next day and I would be going back home before she would return.

So there I was, sitting at a table with my favorite people, at my favorite restaurant as I was opening my final gift: the card from my host parents. It said: "Dearest Grace, for your birthday this year, we are taking you to the south of France where you will go camping with Ninnog to spend your final weeks with her." I instantly began to cry.

Now, that was at the end of the year. Initially, my host family and I had a rough start. My host brother detested that I was living with them, I was extremely homesick and I had to attend an all Dutch school, when I didn't know any dutch! However, I wouldn't have wanted the entire year to be perfect, because then, I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to grow. As I've gotten older, I've found that it was because my host brother detested me and because I was homesick and because I had to attend an all Dutch school that I can look back on the year and feel as though I had a worthwhile experience.

I came out of it learning how to better handle relationships. I also learned that I can leave home and it will not be apocalyptic. I came back to the United States fluent in Dutch.

There is growth in traveling that cannot be achieved elsewhere.

If you want to find out more about yourself in ways you cannot even imagine, and have a whole lot of fun while doing it, I urge you to find a program and seize it!

What would you improve about this program?
The only suggestion I would make would be to hold more AFS sanctioned events. While it was necessary to live life with my host family and friends, I made special connections with many AFS-ers on the final meeting. I wish I could have made those relationships earlier in the year.
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best year

I loved the time I spent with my Dutch host family in Scheveningen in 2009-2010. One of the best experiences of my life, and honestly made me who I am (not to be too corny). The Netherlands is a great place to study abroad in. If you want to learn Dutch (which I did!) I would definitely stay the whole year. Most people speak impeccable English, so it is hard to learn Dutch at first, but only once you do will you be fully immersed. I still talk to my host family all in Dutch. The country is beautiful and it is really easy to travel within The Netherlands and to surrounding countries. You are extremely mobile with just a bike and the train! I would go back any day.

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly DID think it was perfect. AFS Nederland had some of the absolute best volunteers who were so invested in our success. The planned activities were great and there are still fellow exchange students I am close to! I can't think of anything I would change.....
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

a wonderful year that encouraged personal growth

i had a wonderful time in the netherlands, i met so many people and got to explore and experience so many new things. i enjoyed music festivals, cultural events such as village-wide festivals, school parties, and holiday celebrations with family, as well as fun sightseeing outings and trips like playing mini-golf or going to the amusement park!
i truly loved getting to intimately experience the vibrant and different cultural life of my host family and friends. learning the new traditions, trends, and lifestyles of the netherlands was exciting and enriching. i loved crafting elaborate wrapping for my host father's present on sinterklaas, biking to germany at sunrise on hemelvaartsdag, eating oliebolen on the holidays and dutch pannenkoeken, seeing the vibrant gardens of het keukenhof, and walking through the village market full of bustling stalls. some of my favorite memories are of simply wandering, riding my bike alone through the cobblestone streets of my "dorpje" (village) and admiring the quaint and cozy architecture. my host family and friends spoke to me in exclusively dutch at my request, so i learned to speak fluently, which is a skill that i still value greatly.
while i was there i had an illness, and the AFS staff did reach out to me and offer caring support and help for what i was going through when they found out. i think that the volunteers really care about the exchange students and put in a lot of effort to make sure they are ok, and that was meaningful to me. its good to feel safe and supported when you're in a far away place. i developed a lot of independence and introspective insight while abroad, as well as cultural knowledge and deep lasting friendships.

What would you improve about this program?
i would update the recommendations about internet usage. we live in a global world where we are always connected to the internet, and its unrealistic to expect exchange students to detach completely from their vibrant online lives.
i would also update/improve the screening process for host families.
i also know many exchange students are depressed and i would like to see more support and encouragement to talk about these feelings, as many exchange students can empathize.
2 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Starting Price: $15,000.00