'Mijn IPM Italie uitwisseling'

December 2017

Our experience in the Netherlands
by Vittoria Zanotto and Emma Valentini, two Italian students who stayed in host families in the Netherlands for three months in light of the Individual Pupil Mobility Programme supported by Erasmus+. Vittoria and Emma spent three months in the families of Emma Pereira (L3ta) and Roos van Baalen (L3ta). In January, Emma and Roos will go to Italy for three months to experience Italian school and culture.

When we arrived after a very long road of almost 20 hours by bus, we were so excited of meeting our matches and who would be our families for the rest of the 3 months we will spent in the Netherlands.

Obviously the first thoughts were: “will everything be okay?”, “will the teachers be kind with us, both for the Netherlands and Italy?”, “how will be our new families, our matches, our new lives, living in a foreign country, speaking a new language, without any “italian help?”. We were really scared of not be able to speak or make other understand us.

The first days we had a lot of things to do, so we didn't think about our real families, friends and all our dears: we were only thinking about the great enthusiasm we had, the little fear of the possibile failure, we were not sure of if we could do such a big thing. Only about one thing we were sure: we could have counted on each other and on our matches.

In a moment, almost three weeks were already passed, and we started feeling homesickness, from the person who we loved, our school, our families, our routine.

But then we get used to the new life and we were again so happy! We started wjth our new routine, we became more indipendent and organized and finally we get into the mood of the experience: we worked hard, but started enjoying the little things such as feeling really part of the family and feeling “at home". We didn’t need to ask anymore for a glass of water, we just taked one by ourselves, we could sit on the sofa without appearing rude.

But the most beautiful thing is that we started to ask them if they wanted something, as they were guests, so we introduced also our culture, based on the constant offering. We shared our habits, and we made a really big Italian dinner with all our families united, as we were in Italy, giving them the possibility of learning also our culture by food and feeling the real Italian atmosphere of being together.

We learned as much as we thought: we improved our knowledge of English and we get used to a total different culture, so we became more autonomous. We enjoyed the little trips with our families and the way as they treated us, we made Dutch culture part of us: for example when we will come back for sure we will continue making tea for break, using more our bicycles…

Now are the last weeks. We are happy to return back to Italy because after a long time, is always beautiful see again your dears who missed you and vice versa, but we are a little sad of coming  back because now we stay good here, we are happy, and two weeks are a very short time.

Certainly we will miss the opportunity of comparison with another country and the feeling of safety in a family that isn’t yours, but we will miss also the streets, the places that now we are used to see everyday, our routine. We haven’t regrets for this experience and it helps us very a lot, not only with the language but also for our minds, keeping them constantly opened. Thanks to the teachers, to the school, to our families and matches and all the Netherlands!