The Dutch Life (Part 1)

Hey there.

So basically I’m treating this as a sort of online diary/journal/ramblings as I spend the next year working (or hardly working) as an Au Pair for a family in Holland.

A bit of background. I’m 21 (almost 22 – and yes, I plan to sing that Taylor Swift song ALL year) I recently moved from Newcastle, Australia to Den Haag, Holland. Why? Because ever since I finished school it has been a dream/goal to live overseas, and finally – after four years – I am doing it. I left quite a good job at a coal mining company, a bunch of friends and a fantastic house right by the beach to move to country where I knew absolutely nobody, nor not much about. Crazy as it seems, I’ve realised I have an internal nomadic instinct where if I’m in one place too long I get itchy feet and need to discover somewhere new. I think this started about Grade 9, where I had decided I’d had enough of my small town Catholic school with the friends I grew up with so enrolling in a boarding school in a different state seemed like the logical thing to do. At the end of school, while my dear friends were off getting wasted at Schoolies, I was on a plane to Perth to be a polo groom. After my stint as a polo groom, it was back home to my parents – but only for a few months before I discovered the wonders of Asia with my sister. Once I’d had enough Pad Thai and Tiger Beers, I decided it was time to be serious and get some sort of qualification, so I enrolled in a fast-tracked Double Diploma in Marketing/Business Management course in the fabulous town of Newcastle, where I have been ever since. .

But this whole time I was never really satisfied with where I was, I yearned to be somewhere different, somewhere that I was a total foreigner, somewhere that people would talk about, like “Wow, I can’t believe you’re going there!” While Holland is hardly the Moroccan desert, it does tend to lead to the question of “Why there?” And to this, I can only answer “Not a clue”. Which is 100% true. I have no family there, have no history relating to the Dutch people. The only thing I knew about Holland was Amsterdam, cheese and clogs. How typically touristy of me. I also was sick of my 9-5 desk job. I’m 21 for jeebus sakes, ain’t nobody got time for staring at a computer screen all day when theres a whole world to discover. It left me with the dilemma of how to fund myself whilst travelling and a live-in au pair job in a country where it only takes 2 hours to reach the border seemed like the a pretty dandy solution.

I guess I’m also doing this because I sort of feel like I have no direction in life. Without sounding like a total loser, I’m doing this because I want to ‘find’ myself. Or at least, understand and appreciate myself a bit better. I am also hoping I will discover my next movements in life, because beyond this 12 months and I am back at square one, probably in debt and still no clue.. But my fingers and toes are crossed.

So, after that mass of information overload, here I am – living in Den Haag with a delightful family of four in a beautiful, three storey terrace house. Oh, I can’t forget the dog, the cat and the two rabbits.

It is nearing the end of my third day here. I arrived at the start of their weekend so I got to know the girls well and get a hold of how the household runs before school starts. The girls being 13 and 10 are quite capable of looking after themselves but require supervision and a bit of egging on because they are distracted easily. I was never really a ‘baby’ person, still am to be totally honest – that maternal instinct is yet to take over. So being able to have a conversation with the girls and not change nappies is definitely my cup of tea. So far everything seems OK. It still feels weird (and not real) that I’m living with a Dutch family on the absolute over side of the world to my family but in ways its not that different. They speak excellent English, they have similar jokes, eat similar food. The only hard thing so far is when they have lengthy conversations in Dutch and I’m sitting there not understanding a single word. But I didn’t expect anything less.

A few things I’ve learnt so far:

  • Dutch people eat ALOT of bread. Alot. They carbo load for fun.
  • Do not accept a herring sandwich. You will get raw fish on a breadroll with onion. Its supposed to be a Dutch favourite. It made me want to vomit.
  • Dutch children sound like kids off the Sims. It makes me laugh, every time.
  • Nutella is a universally loved spread. From Australia, to Italy, to Holland. Everyone knows it, e’rrrrrrybody digs it.
  • Bikes. So many bikes.

So – tomorrow is technically my first official day. The girls are off to school and I’m in charge of picking them up, ironing some clothes, cooking dinner, making sure they do their homework and cleaning the kitchen. My year of leisure(sort of) has begun. BRING.IT.ON!

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