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The Netherlands, Europe’s most densely populated country, has everything, from tiny seaside villages to the ultra-hip capital of Amsterdam to the Hague, seat of both Dutch government and international institutions like the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. The Dutch tend to be independent but open-minded and tolerant, with an international outlook and a love of personal freedom.They’re also known for vigorous outdoor activity—they ride bikes everywhere and love to ice skate on the frozen canals in the winter.

It’s hard to describe Dutch culture in a few words – it’s better to experience it. So take a canal tour through Amsterdam, relive Dutch history at Zaanse Schans, eat a herring in Volendam, watch the cheese market of Gouda, marvel at the cathedral of Den Bosch and the basilicas of Maastricht, climb the Dom Tower in Utrecht, visit the mills of Kinderdijk, and cycle through the bulb fields, Giethoorn and along the dolmens. You will have seen only a fraction of what Holland has to offer and will already be impressed.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be 16, 17 or 18
Enrolled in a NZ school
Getting ‘achieved’ or more in your school work

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Field Trips
  • Cultural Tours
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform
Canva – Heart Shaped Waffle Pancakes_edited

Host family and culture

You can be placed anywhere throughout the Netherlands, probably in a small town—however bigger towns and cities are always just a quick ride away. Public transportation system is well developed, and bikes are commonly used to get around. Some regions are very rural, particularly in the north. You will really get to know the Dutch sense of family as everyone shares their adventures of the day during meals. Expect to participate in household chores and keep your belongings tidy.

Dutch food is simple and nourishing and represents a mixture of European cooking styles. During weekdays, family members take breakfast individually based on their schedules, but often on Sundays, the family will eat a special breakfast together. Dinner is the most important time for families to gather. A typical meal consists of potatoes and gravy with vegetables in season and meat or fish. The soups and vegetables are excellent. If you have a sweet tooth, try the raisin rolls, chocolate spread, puddings, syrup-filled wafers, and especially Dutch licorice!

Canva – Amsterdam Building_edited

Language and school

Dutch is spoken throughout the Netherlands, and AFS Netherlands will provide a Rosetta Stone language course to help you learn the language as much as possible before starting the exchange. Students placed in Friesland, a province in the north of the country, might even learn Frisian— the official regional language only spoken in that province. Having a basic knowledge of English will be helpful.

Your previous grades and interests will help determine what type of secondary school you will attend. Classes run from 8 am to 4 pm. Dutch schools focus on independent study and research, in smaller working groups or individually, to teach problem solving and teamwork.

Let AFS guide your intercultural experience

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more