Johanne’s EVS in the Netherlands

Now I´ve been working as a volunteer in the Netherlands for a little over three months, and it´s almost scary how fast the time has passed. I´ve had close to no time to miss my family yet, as there is so much new that´s happening, things I have to explore, and this entire thing only feeling like a holiday, for now, I mean, I´m going home in a couple of days, right? No, I´m gonna stay here for another nine months, and I love it.

A bit about me

Ok, so a little bit about me; I´m a 21-year-old girl that´s taken some time of after high school. A bit unsure of what I wanna do with my life, wanting to work a bit before my studies, and generally being a bit sick of school, made me look for new opportunities. Before the autumn of 2018, I´d never even heard about European Voluntary Service(EVS), Erasmus and so on, but it became my rescue, to be able to work as a volunteer for a year in a new country. I have to mention that my boyfriend is Dutch, so finding the country I wanted to travel to wasn´t exactly hard, but then it came to what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with people, but finding out what I wanted was still hard. It´s actually kinda funny how I got my project, I first applied to a project for schools, as an English teacher/substitute teacher, I wrote this long letter and laid out all the reasons why they should choose me, and why I wanted to this, but I also had a quick look at another project, I thought. I was just gonna click the link to read about it, but out of nowhere a note popped up and read something like “Thank you for applying for this project, we´ll be in touch shortly.” I mean what? But here I am, working in the care section for elders and people with dementia, and I love it. My work is so varied and rewarding(cliché I know), but I´m working with people, just as I wanted to.

Marienkroon where I spent my first time in The Netherlands


When I applied to the project in late August, the start of September, everything suddenly went very fast! First of all, I got chosen(!!!), but there was a whole lot of stuff to do before the big move and everything, so the last months before the new year was really hectic and hard, but suddenly I was here, in the Netherlands. For the first two months, I lived together with five other volunteers in an old castle in a little village outside ´s-Hertogenbosch, where I work. Beautiful place, but so far away from everything, and it never felt as a home, I mean, it was a huge old castle. I got the possibility to move into the city in early March, and there were no questions, of course, I wanted to move. I´ve lived in ´s-Hertogenbosch for about two months now, and even though it´s not always great, it´s way better! First of all; so much closer to everything. It takes me 15-20 min with the bike to get to work, and if I want to I can actually walk, it´s just 45 min or so. Before it it would take me 45 min on an electric bike, so yeah, a huge improvement. Secondly; even though I just have a small room it feels so much more like home. I´ve got my plants, my couch and my things, and ok, the place isn´t the greatest, but I´ve made it my home for now. And thirdly; It feels like I have so much more time for everything, which I really need as I´m trying to learn this new, weird language.

My current workplace

Vivent Zorgt

Over to my actual project! As I mentioned, I work with elderly people, but I was lucky enough to get two different workplaces. I´m working for Vivent Zorgt, and I´m really happy about it, not only because the work I do brings me joy, but also because of all the people I get to meet through work. I thought I´d come to a workplace where everyone was employees, had worked there for several years, and that I´d just be the foreign girl trying to help, but no. A lot of the people I work with are also volunteers from the city. They get nothing for the hard work they do, but they´re there, every day, to make the elders days and lives a bit better, and I can´t express my admiration for them!

If I were to try to explain what exactly I do, it would take forever, mostly because I do so much different stuff, but also because I don´t really know? I mean, I show up to work, I´m there, maybe I serve coffee and play cards one day, but then the next day I go swimming with people and go for walks in the sunshine. I help feed the people that can´t feed themselves, I make dinner for huge groups, but most importantly; I´m there, I´m smiling, I engage in activities with them, and apparently I have an energy that shines through and makes people happy. A lot of the people I work with has severe dementia, but even after two weeks away they will remember me, or something about me, they´ll be happy to see me again, and it´s an amazing feeling.

Ok so I think this was a lot at once, so I´ll stop here, but I´ll continue with updates throughout the year, and I´ll be back soon!