My review title can only make sense if you read my review. A true Stompwijker; the title my host family gave to me only after a few weeks of living here. I was already accustomed to the small town feel of Stompwijk; the smell of cows and sharing the road with tractors and horses. It felt like home from the start. I met my first group of friends at the horse races; with the language barrier being a bit of an issue for some of them we just laughed it off by kicking the soccer ball around and dancing to the DJ. The next few weeks I was invited to BBQ’s, boating and tent parties. All these things made me feel completely at home, from the very start. Shortly after I was tagged on a Facebook post on the towns Facebook page saying they were looking for girls to join their soccer team. Being that I played soccer all my life and went on scholarship to play at university I could not resist this opportunity. I quickly reached out and had another connection that felt like home. With practicing and getting to know my team even better, I felt my true self really appear. During my year abroad I took personal trips where I truly wanted to experience myself and a different culture, I cycled all around the Netherlands and I even cycled from Amsterdam to Antwerp, Belgium. I took a train to Paris with my boyfriend, who is a “native Stompwijker” and I did fun cultural activities with my host family and friends. I indulged myself completely and fully into the Dutch culture. I fell in love with bitterballen, stroopwaffels and cycling.
Looking back at my experience I would not change a thing because every situation led my Stompwijk soccer team to winning champions and celebrating by riding around on a tractor kart through town, it led me to being able to ice skate on the canals that make the Netherlands unique, and every situation gave me another reason to come back and visit.
I’ve only lived in Stompwijk for one year but that’s 365 days of waving to the same people on my daily routine, smiling and saying “goedemorgen” or “hoe gaat het?” My host family says I’m a true Stompwijker because I never said no to any experience, I was up for anything. I wanted to jump into the Stompwijk culture and that is exactly what I did. I came to the Netherlands labeled by everyone as the American au pair but I left as a friend, a true Stompwijker.