The last hours of 2014 are ticking by. I’m in the USA and I just played Settlers of Catan with Ethan and Hannah. I won the game with 3 Cities, 1 Settlement, the largest Army and a victory point. This morning we left our house at 7am to skate in Milwaukee. This is what I do on my day before New Year. In 8 hours it will be 2015 here. In 1 hour it will be 2015 back home.
My year started off with the National championship. Here I got Dutch champion together with my relay team (with: Aafke Soet, Suzanne Schulting and Esmeralda Wannink) from Shorttrack Club Thialf. Overall I got 5th. My brother also won the relay with his team.
On January 16th, exactly a week after my 17th birthday, I passed my drivers test. So I got my license. In the Netherlands you can start driving lessons when you’re 16,5. Then you can get your license when you are 17. The first year you’re only allowed to drive with your ‘coaches’. So I could drive with my parents. When I get 18 (January 9 2015) I can drive alone. But because I’m in The States this year and my exchange organization (AFS) doesn’t allow me to drive I have to wait until I’m back in The Netherlands (beginning of July).
Last year I was in my final year of the HAVO at my highschool in The Netherlands. We have different levels in the Netherlands. It is hard to explain but I will add an image which will hopefully explain the Dutch school system a little. But I graduated from the level I was on. Now I knew I passed school my parents allowed me to go on my exchange year. I’m not sure if they allowed me if I didn’t pass it. All my grades are really good. There was one which I could do better. You have the chance to do one of the exams again (if you graduated or not), I did this and I got my grade up 2 whole points overall. 🙂
In the beginning of the year I had a lot of preparations for my exchange year in the USA. Filling out all the papers, waiting for a hostfamily, thinking which things I would take and working a lot during the summer break to get more money. When I heard that I had my family in Oak Brook, Illinois I was really excited and I couldn’t wait to meet them!
During the summer I also stayed training for shorttrack a lot. I’m sad I have to miss my team there for a year. But here in the USA I have an awesome team too. I got information about the day that I left in the beginning of the summer. It got closer and closer and I had to say goodbye to family and friends. Which was sad.. I’ve had an goodbye party where a lot of people came. I was happy most of the people where able to come! 🙂
A week before I left I really started packing my stuff. I had a lot of stuff to take, my skating stuff (includes 3 pair of skates), clothes, and some gifts for the family. I already sent some stuff by mail. But I still had a lot of stuff.
The evening before I left I went with my parents and brother to the Otterskooi. This is a restaurant in Giethoorn. I drove, this was the last evening I was able to drive. After we went to my grandparents to say goodbye. This was hard, that was the first moment I realized I would really be gone for almost a year. Tineke, Eleni and Lotte (friends of me) where at my home when we came home. It was really nice to spend the evening with them before departure. I didn’t expect this, it was a surprise. The next morning they brought me together with my parents and Sanne (another friend) to the airport.
Here my adventure really started!
After a night in a hotel and some orientations the first day where I already met a lot of other exchange students (who are awesome!) my hostmom, hostsister and younger hostbrother picked me up. It was really nice to meet them! Later I met the others of the family. My hostfamily exists of a dad, mom, 3 sisters and 4 brothers.
I’m going to be an American here. It is fun to see that the schoolsystem is different. In school here you have sport teams and here I joined the Cross Country and the Track. I’ve met a lot of new people here and they are all really nice.
This year I had an American Halloween and I went trick or treating. I had Thanksgiving where we came together with the family. I introduced Sinterklaas to my family and I had a real American Christmas with a lot of presents and really nice lights in the streets.
I’ve also done really nice trips here. I went to Wichita, Kansas for a shorttrack meet where I got 3rd. I went to Holland, Michigan to see at a Cross Country meet of Hannah and to see family and the city there. I went to Minneapolis for a longtrack meet outside. Here we also went to Mall of America where I meet up with an AFS returnee from last year. And I went to St. Louis for the Hot Chocolate run. Here we went also up in to the Arch.
I really liked all the things I experienced this year. It is awesome to live a year abroad and if people ask me if they should do a year abroad. DO IT!! This is a once in a lifetime experience and I love it!! If you want to see what I exactly did here in the USA you can read my other blogs. 🙂
My dad is going to bike up to the Alpe D’huzes next year. This is to get money for cancer research. He is still looking for people who can donate. I hope you can maybe help him. For more information about that click here or look at www.climb4hope.nl.
5 minutes left until new year in the Netherlands. Have a great 2015 everyone!! I’m sure this year will bring us a lot of great things. I will see you guys in July!! 😀