Johanne: When you love your ”daily bread”

God dag, alla,

today’s article seems somehow special. Johanne, who is volunteering in Netherlands, is confessing how great it could be when you finally crack ”Da Vinci’s code” and master the language a bit. But no more spoilers, go ahead and read on your own…

You guys! I´m shook. I´ve been here in the Netherlands for more than six months now (making me two months late with this blog post or so, ops). It´s hard to start writing as I still feel like I arrived yesterday, but on the other hand still have so much to write about since it´s been so long!

I can start off by telling that I finally had my on arrival training last month. In June. On arrival. Well well. I couldn´t make the first one in February, and then the one in April got canceled because of Kings Day (which I will come back to), so the next after that was in June. 

I have to admit that I didn´t really look forwards to this, as I´d already been here for five months, and saw it almost as a waste of time, but you know, I didn´t have much of a choice, AND THANK GOD. I had the greatest time, so many new people, challenges, learning experiences and great memories!

To be fair, it did nothing for my project or my time here, but getting to know new people hearing about others projects, and just being around people in the same situation was great. Already looking forwards to the mid term in October. 

So, since the last time I´ve updated you I´ve really gotten to know my project and my work here. Finally getting to know the people and be sure about what I´m supposed to do here is an absolutely great feeling, and now I leave work every day with a feeling that I´ve done something. This was absolutely not the case in the start. On top of this my Dutch is really improving, I can speak, understand and keep conversations going, and this has helped me so much with the people.

Working with old people and people with dementia is hard to begin with, but without even being able to speak to them? It was horrible, absolutely unbearable in the beginning, especially since what I´m supposed to do here is to be with them, join in activities, and brighten up their days. So yeah, I´m so glad and grateful that I´m a quick learner, and I´m so curious about how my language will be when I leave after this year.

As I mentioned earlier, in April it was Kings day, one of the Netherlands many national holidays. Kings day is literally what it sounds like; a celebration of the king, his birthday. I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate it with my parents in law and some friends of them, and I had an absolutely great time. A lot of people, and especially the young adults, use this holiday just drinking and having fun, but I did not, and I´m happy I got to celebrate it in a family way. We did the regular; lunch with some cake, orange of course as it´s the Netherlands color, watching the parade on television, going in to town and just enjoying our day. Kings day is a really amazing day, cause the cities are full of life and events. I spent the day in Harlem, and in town there was this huge fair with carousels, stands and music, which was amazing, really felt like a little kid wanting to go on all of the rides. There´s also this tradition that people set up small stands on the street selling of stuff they don´t use, or need, anymore, and this, this is the tradition for me! Sadly the weather wasn´t too good, so there were a lot fewer stands than apparently is normal, but I still had an amazing time just looking around everywhere!

As a half year has passed now, I really feel like I´m in a good place here in ´s-Hertogenbosch. Workvice everything is great; I have something new to go to everyday, and always feel good after a day, as I´ve been there making the people´s day a bit better. As of living in a new and strange country, things couldn´t be better. I love the city I live in and how friendly everyone is (no joke, everyone is just smiling and saying hi all the time), and I in general love my day to day life. I´m halfway through, and I´m already dreading the day I´m done here. Can I please just do another year after this?

Johanne made it clear that she has been enjoying to the fullest, which is something we always love to hear. It makes us think we are doing a great job, which is meaningful and life-changing.

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