The Dutch experience of our German au pair Anne

Hi Guys,

My name is Anne, I am 29 years old and I live in Cologne (Germany). In the end of July my second au pair experience started. For 4 months I lived in Naarden (the Netherlands). But what is so special about that? I am a very unusual au pair- at least here. I am a German with a Dutch name, born and raised in a city next to the border to the Netherlands, I knew the country from holidays and trips before AND I speak Dutch.

You might think: Why is she doing this? It is like a bigger holiday in a country she already knows, nothing new for her and the people and culture are like her own.

Well, let me explain…after I graduated from high school, I wanted to become a doctor. But my grades weren’t good enough, so I thought of studying in the Netherlands. That was plan A. But the language courses were so expensive, and I had to wait for the application another 6 months, so I started my plan B: becoming a teacher. At the university of Cologne, I started to study Dutch and after my first semester I knew plan B became plan A and Dutch was so much fun that I got through to my master now. I learned a lot about the language, literature, history, and culture of the country but I never had the time to experience all that by myself. So, I planned to go to the Netherlands in May of 2020. Well I don’t have to say what happened then… covid-19 or corona was happening. I couldn’t finish my master as planned, exams were postponed, and my summer was all about waiting for news because of lockdown. So I decided to work as an au pair and use the time to improve my language skills and experience everything that I learned about the country from books and lessons in place of sitting in Cologne waiting for news.

I could manage to find a family and went to Naarden on 27th July.

What did I learn about the country, people and language I thought I would know so much about?

Well, I learned that I didn’t know so much 😀

  1. My Dutch is/ was very old-fashioned. Sometimes they looked at me like I came straight from the 1940s. So I learned a lot about slang and the daily used Dutch.
  2. Many stereotypes of the Netherlands, the Dutch and their food were replaced with new opinions. I love the spices, flavours and tastes. I tried and found so many new dishes I didn’t expected to be “typical” Dutch. What an eyeopener!
  3. Reading about Sinterklaas is not the same as experiencing his arrival with the boat and the kids going crazy about him and his helpers the Pieten.

I went to a lot of museums, saw the beautiful art of the most known and popular artist like Rembrandt, van Gogh, Vermeer and Mondriaan. With the kids I had great trips to the Miffy museum, Muiderslot and Nemo. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the international The Hague, the beaches all over the country, a hike to the highest point of the country near Maastricht and of course Amsterdam with all the canals, nice food and history.

Was it all worth? Absolutely! My Dutch improved a lot, I learned so much about culture, traditions and daily life here AND I met so many nice people including my lovely host family and all the girls I now call my friends

If you are thinking of going to the Netherlands or a country you already “know”, don’t hesitate, you will always see new things, meet new people and make your own experiences.