by Mariza Mak
I always knew my Granddad came from the Netherlands as a young boy. He had stories about cold days, freezing canals, ice skating, being very poor after the war and only eating meat once a week. I therefore knew, when the opportunity arose, that the Netherlands would be my first choice to go and explore my roots.
The time leading up to my trip, was a bit stressful. Covid was still real, and infact a travel ban was implemented and lifted again days before my departure date. So arriving in a Covid lockdown, with my ’’mondkappie’’, and about 3 Covid tests, my journey finally started
From the moment my host Dad fetched me at the airport, I felt welcome. My room was beautiful, l loved my reading corner and super comfy bed. Maybe being locked down with my family for 7 days was a good thing. We had nowhere to go. We spent the first week in each other’s company and getting to know one other. It was freezing cold and rainy, so the child and I – played with his trains, Lego’s, Nintendo, danced to his favourite music and built a fort and filled it with all his soft toys. It was a bit embarrassing when the IND came to the door for the inspection, to find me in my pink onesie, as the child and I decided to do a pajama day.
So I grew familiar with my hometown, and built up the courage to use the train for the first time. I love the trains because you can mostly go anywhere and it is effective and safe. At a change over, I did however get on to the wrong platform and train once, and when it was time to step off in Deventer, I stepped of at exactly the place where I started my journey. I phoned my mom and we had a good laugh.
The homesickness just stared creeping in, when we had our first au pair day and I met some new girls and spent some time with familiar faces. So making friends and spending time with other au pairs on weekends, quickly became a lifeline.
In the first month it was raining a lot, I didn’t have a proper raincoat and most days, ended up soaking wet. So my advice to future au pairs, is to buy yourself a proper raincoat as soon as you arrive here in Holland. With that you will soon learn to cycle in windy, stormy, sunny and rainy weather.
I enjoy the most tastiest pastries such as an appelflap and worstbroodjie. I taught myself to drink flavoured green tea and I enjoy it with a speculoos broodje. I have been obsessed with speculoos cookies and chocomel (the best chocolate milk).
After 3 months I knew exactly what was expected of me, and how to do it, so family meetings on Sunday nights became less daunting. The language is getting much easier and I am excited to learn more and explore more of this beautiful country and culture, in my remaining time.