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.
As an AFSer in the Netherlands, you’ll live with a host family and attend a local high school. The Dutch have a strong sense of family, and meals are an important time to catch up on each other’s lives. Your host family will help you with a self-directed Dutch language course, and your friends will get you involved with extracurricular activities, such as soccer or hobby clubs.