Our Exchange to Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands, 8 – 13 October, 2023 - An unforgettable journey, and what exchanges teach you

Are you ready for an adventure? Picture this: an eighth-grade exchange program to the culturally rich city of Bergen op Zoom in the Netherlands. A journey filled with discoveries, learning, and cultural immersion. As students, we often find ourselves in a structured environment, but an international exchange program breaks that system. It expands our perspectives, improves our cultural understanding, and shapes us in ways no classroom or textbook can. In my opinion, an exchange program is an invaluable experience that every student should have. It’s basically a gold mine for personal growth, fostering independence, and embracing diversity. Here is why.

Firstly, an international exchange offers an opportunity to learn about different cultures firsthand. Experiencing the Dutch way of life, their customs, and traditions is amazing. For instance, exploring the historical city of Bergen op Zoom and the crowded streets of Amsterdam provided insights into Dutch culture. Being in a different environment not as a tourist but actually being there with people who inherit the Netherlands helped me understand and appreciate diversity in a way that nobody else can.

Secondly, such experiences are excellent training for your adaptability and problem-solving skills. An unexpected change in plans teaches flexibility and quick thinking. For instance, our altered plan led us to explore Veere, a charming town that we wouldn't have seen like we did otherwise. This flexibility became a significant part of our learning journey.

During our visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, we delved into the rich history of Dutch art and culture. Exploring the artwork not only expanded our knowledge but also taught us the significance of art. The improvisation in our schedule led us to Veere in a different way than we thought, where we discovered its history and architecture, learning about its significant culture. This unplanned visit provided a deeper understanding of Dutch heritage.

In conclusion, the exchange program to ‘t Rijks School in Bergen op Zoom was an unforgettable experience. Exchanges teach you about accepting diversity, being adaptable, teamwork and the value of cultural experiences. Experiencing a different way of life and dealing with unforeseen circumstances were integral to my personal growth. These experiences fostered a sense of independence and broadened my worldview, and will leave an unerasable mark on my eighth-grade journey. Reflecting on this experience, it’s clear that such exchanges are more than just educational trips; they are transformative journeys that shape us into adaptable people.

Luis, Year 8f