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Dallas

Last weekend, we had something really exciting on our planning; we were going to Dallas, Texas for a national cheer competition! The weeks before our departure we worked really hard to get our whole routine together and make all our stunts go. This was really stressful but it was definitely worth all our hard work.


We left the high school on Thursday night at 11:00 PM. We had a 10 hour bus ride so everyone slept the whole night on the bus. Around 9:00 AM in the morning we stopped at MC Donald's to get breakfast and at 11:00 AM we arrived in Dallas. 

 Our first stop was at the Dallas Convention Center for our first practice. The building was huge and there were so many teams who looked so professional. We all changed into our cheer shirts and after that we had some free time to go shopping because we didn’t have practice until 2:00 PM. Right before we had to check into the practice room, we all got together to stretch so we wouldn’t have to waste our time on the mats. In total we had a 30 minute practice. You get into a hall with a lot of mats and after every 10 minutes you rotate. The first 10 minutes you only have one mat, we warmed up our jumps and stunts on that. The second 10 minutes you have two mats. This is where we warmed up our pyramid and basket tosses. The last 10 minutes we had a whole floor (nine mats). We used this to do our whole routine with all the stunts, jumps and music. 

After practice we went to our hotel. 

We shared a room with Rachel and Kaleigh so we unpacked our stuff and went to the pool for 45 minutes with Malott and Kaleighs mom. 

Here we decided that we were gonna eat at Olive Garden with everyone later that night, so that meant that we had to get ready and dress up nicely. 

We went to dinner at 6, it was really good and we had a lot of fun. We got unlimited breadsticks (they’re the best) and Kamare dropped her phone in her spaghetti so we laughed about that for the rest of the night. 

After dinner we went back to the hotel and some girls came to our room to hang out for a while. This was so much fun. We talked about a lot of stuff and we really got to know each other better. At 11 PM it was time to go to sleep, because the next day we had to wake up early and we had a busy ahead of us.


On Saturday we woke up at 8:30 AM to eat breakfast. We had a breakfast buffet at the hotel so that was really nice. After this we got ready and at 10:00 AM we left the hotel to go shopping. 

 The mall that we wanted to go to didn’t open until 12:00, so before we went there we went to some stores next to the mall which were already open. When we arrived at the mall, we spent our first hour at the forever 21 where we got some really cute clothes. After that we went to a lot of different stores. It was so big that they even had an ice skating area in the middle of the mall. They had stores for everything, even all kinds of restaurants. 

 We had a late lunch because our diner was going to be late too. We all got something at the foodcourt and soon after this it was time to leave the mall and get ready for our first day of competition. We did this at the hotel. We had to put on a lot of makeup and put our hair in high ponytails. 

We didn’t have a lot of time so we kinda had to hurry but we made it work. At 5:00 PM it was time to go to the venue. Before our own performance, we looked at some other teams. They were really impressive. Around 6:30 PM it was time to warm up our stunts, this went the same as the practice before. Our performance didn’t go as well as we hoped, but at that moment we didn’t really care. Right after we finished we left to go eat dinner because it was late. We were supposed to go to a really good Mexican restaurant, but there was a two hour waiting list and since it was already 8:30 PM, we decided to go to Chili’s. It wasn’t a really big success. They forgot a lot of orders and it took really long to fix it. The food was good, but the service could’ve been better. As soon as we arrived at the hotel around 10:30 PM we took a shower and went to sleep.


Sunday was our last day in Dallas. 

After breakfast we went to the Dallas farmers market. 

The weather was really good, around 26 degrees celsius, so we spent a lot of time outside enjoying the sun. 

As soon the mall opened we decided to go back because no one was done shopping yet. We walked around for a while and shopped some more. For lunch we decided to finally get some sushi (we asked for sushi for weeks). 

Right after this, it was time to head back to the hotel again to get ready for our second and last day of competition. This time it went way better. 

Less stunts fell and our score was way higher than the day before. After our performance we had to wait for the awards. We ended up taking fifth place in our division. 

After this we went to eat at whataburger, they call it the best burger place in the nation! The burgers were really good and it was really cheap, so that’s always nice. We got back at the hotel around 11:00 PM, we packed our suitcases and went to sleep, because we had to leave at 8 in the morning the next day for our bus ride back home. 


On monday we woke up around 7:30 AM, packed our last things and went downstairs to grab some breakfast and lunch at the buffet for on the bus. On the bus we slept a lot and had a fun last time together with everyone.


We had a really fun time in Texas and we are grateful that we got this opportunity!

Christmas break

Joy: I knew that Christmas and new years eve were gonna be hard so my goal for this break was to keep myself busy. There was not a day that I didn’t do anything. A lot of things are off my bucket list now and I can’t wait to share it all with you so here we go!

In the last week of school we had my first 2 snow days. I spent it with so many friends and we had the best time! We walked on the icy roads, tried to make a snowman but ended up having a snowball fight, made gingerbread houses, drank hot chocolate, went sledding and had the best time with everyone. It was really such a great day and I will never forget it!

On the day our Christmas break started, we still had a cheer game and I flew for the first time in front of an audience! (I am on the right). It was so scary but also so amazing. 

During the break, we went out for dinner quite a few times and I am kind of addicted to hamburgers now. They are my berenhappen of the United States ;). 

We had the family over for the Christmas days. On Christmas day we opened all the presents from under the tree first (what was a lot). I was wayyy too spoiled and got A LOT of amazing presents. My parents even sent presents over from The Netherlands! I Facetimed my family after that so I could be a part of their Christmas too. That made me feel so good and I loved seeing all of them opening their presents.

On the 26st of December, we picked up Blake (Linda’s step son) up from the airports and went to eat at Waffle House! This was on my bucket list too and it was actually really good. I would definitely want to go there again. 

On the 27th of December, Dylan, Blake and I went to The Pinnacles. This is a park where you can climb high rocks. We had to go over rocks in the water to get there and it was really an adventure. 

The amount of times we almost fell is kind of dangerous (oops, sorry mom). It was so amazing to be on the top, it felt like I was on the top of the world!

 We took some cool pictures and then went to see the Mizzou campus where Dylan is going this semester. It was so big and so cool to think that people actually live there.

On the 31st of December, it was New Years Eve! I have to admit that this day was harder than I expected. I was really sad that I couldn’t celebrate with either my family or friends back home. Even though I couldn’t celebrate it with them in real life, I did get to Facetime them. It was sad but also weird to think that the new year had already started in The Netherlands but was still 7 hours away from me.

That evening, Linda, Blake, Kaleigh, Kaleighs mom and I went to Kobe to eat.

 This is a restaurant where they cook in front of you. They had sushi too! It was amazing (even though we had to wait 2 hours to be seated). 

After dinner, we went to the magic tree. This is a tree that is fully decorated with lights. It was really pretty.

 We took some nice pictures and went home to get ready to go to Anna’s house to celebrate 2020 with a big group of friends. It was really fun and I had the best time with everyone.

The rest of the week, I spent a lot of time with friends, ate my first American bar burger with Kaleigh and her family, I played tennis with Dylan quite a few times, went to the gym with Anna (new year's resolutions are going great!)

, learned how to skateboard (I tried) in Jefferson City with Nyesha, Dylan and Cole and enjoyed my last days with a lot of friends before school started again. 


2020 is already going great and it will only get better. We still have so many fun stuff planned. It’s going to be a busy but amazing last few months. Have a wonderful year everybody and keep smiling :)


Flora:


My first snow days were so much fun! We had friends coming over everyday and we did a lot of fun stuff. Me and Grant made breakfast together both days. The first day we made pancakes, the second day we made biscuits and gravy. 

 We built gingerbread houses, tried to build a snowman, went sledding and watched a lot of movies with other friends. 

I hung out with friends almost everyday before Christmas to have a lot of distractions. On the days of Christmas Eve, I went to Anna’s dads side of the family, this was pretty weird because I’ve never met them before. When I was there my sister facetimed me with the news that they booked plane tickets so they can be here for Graduation! On Christmas Eve the family came over and we had a big dinner, after that we went you church (my grandma would’ve been proud) and I decided to go to sleep right after that because I had a pretty hard time. On Christmas morning we unwrapped all of our presents in matching PJ’s 

 and believe me, I got waaaaay too spoiled. After this I facetimed my parents again and got ready to leave for St. Louis. 

The rest of the week I hung out with friends everyday which was really fun. 

On Saturday December 28, I woke up at 5:50 and left to Kansas at 6:20 in the morning with Grants family to go to his dirt bike race. 

It was a really long day, but I had a lot of fun! We left Kansas got home at 2 in the morning and I was exhausted. 

One day later I went to the mall in Columbia with some other friends, we shopped a little and ate dinner together, later that night I went to Joy’s house to stay the night there. 

On New Years Eve, we went out for dinner with the whole family and after that I went to Grants house to celebrate New Years with him and his family. I had a lot of fun!! 

On New Year's day me and Anna made a road trip to her grandparents and we stayed the night there. The day after that we went to St. Louis to go to a charity concert and we stayed the night at Chuck's house. 

The rest of the break I hung out with friends and I tried to start a new tradition with Anna by going to the gym! 

I had a fun, but also really weird Christmas break, and I’m already ready for the next break.

Back in school

Hey you all!

We hope you haven’t forgotten about us ;). After a great Christmas break full of amazing new experiences and a lot of fun times with friends, we are back in school and ready to pick up where we left off. There will still be a story about our Christmas break and many more! We are also busy with filming a video so stay tuned for the last few months of our crazy adventure!


Xoxo 

Joy and Flora

Thanksgiving break

Thanksgiving is something that we don’t have in The Netherlands. It’s a typical American thing. It is always on the last Thursday of November. Thanksgiving is all about saying thanks to the people where you are thankful for. The day was filled with generosity and food. On Thanksgiving, it’s all about the turkey. That is the main food on the table. It is definitely not a Thanksgiving without a turkey. 

Joy:

On Thanksgiving day, I woke up around 9:30 am and got ready. When I came into the living room, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was on. This is in New York City and it is one of the largest parades worldwide. In the parade are all kinds of stuff. The most important thing are the balloons. They are all characters from kids tv shows like sponge bob and Pickachu. They also have marching bands, dancers, singers, and many more. At the end of watching the parade, everyone of the family came in. when everyone was settled down, it was time to say grace (a little prayer) and start eating. There was all kinds of food like mashed potatoes, turkey (obviously), cinnamon carrots, and much more. We ended it with some pumpkin pie. The food was pretty good and the family was really nice. They were all really interested in my country and culture. It was interesting to tell them about it because their dad and grandparents were from The Netherlands too. 

After the dinner, it was time to prepare ourselves for Black Friday shopping! We picked up Cadence and went to Walmart first. I thought the whole store had a sale but that was not the case. Only the items in front of the aisles were on sale in big boxes. Linda bought some stuff that was on sale and we went home again to drop it off. We had to wait for Kaleigh to get off from work. At 9:00 pm she got off and came to the house with her mom. It was time to go to Columbia now! They have a huge mall here and all the stores had sales. We went to Victoria's Secret, JCPenney, American Eagle, H&M, and even more.

 At 3 am we finally got home, but they wanted to go again to another store who opens at 6 am, so we had to wake up at 5 am again. Cadence laid on the couch and Kaleigh and her mom went home for these 2 hours.

 Ater we almost slept through our alarms, we managed to get in the car again and went to Menards. They had some really good sales and they decorated a part of the store with a lot of Christmas decorations so that was really cool to see. At around 8:30 we were finally done (after almost 3 hours!) and went home with a car full of stuff we bought. It was something else to see all those people in the stores go crazy at 6 am. When we got home I went to sleep until 2 pm because after that I had to get ready to go to a friendsgiving dinner. It was really fun and we had a great time. Even though I was pretty tired, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world. 

The next day, on Saturday, we went Christmas tree shopping and we took Cadence with us. Linda really wanted to get me a real Christmas tree because I have never had one before. When we came to the farm, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so beautiful to see. They had a whole field with Christmas trees and the sun was shining bright. It was a beautiful image. Cadence and I first did a little photo shoot (hihi) and after that our search for the best Christmas tree started. 

After a while, we saw a Christmas tree who was not perfect but unique in its own way. Just like me! I tried to cut it down but the tree was a little stronger than me so that didn’t go as planned. Luckily, Deb was there to help us. Of course this Christmas tree was at the bottom of the little hill where the Christmas trees were on, so we had to drag the tree all the way up. After we got it in the truck, we went to Applebees to eat something. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. 

On Sunday, Linda, her best friend Cyndy and I went to Columbia because they needed some stuff from Sam’s Club which is kind of the Sligro of America. When we got our stuff, we went to Ihop for my first time! It was really good and they had a lot too. 

After that it was time to go home because I had to go to Lulduz birthday party. Lulduz is another foreign exchange student from Kyrgyzstan who is going to the same school as us. Her host family has a really big house with a pool and Jacuzzi in it so that was nice. We swam, ate pizza and had a fun time. In the evening, I watched some Grey’s Anatomy with Linda (really an addiction). It was a good and relaxing end of my thanksgiving break.

It was really an amazing long weekend with a lot of experiences. I had the best time. I got so many things done off my bucket list. It was a real American break.


Flora:

I had to wake up pretty early because I was going to celebrate thanksgiving out of town. I left the house at 9 in the morning to go to Anna’s grandparents in Bowling Green. They needed some help in and around the house so we prepared the food and had our thanksgiving dinner over there. It was a typical Thanksgiving meal with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. I was not a huge fan of the turkey, but I really liked the mashed potatoes and stuffing! When we finished our meal, we continued our trip to Chuck's house in St. Charles. After we arrived we stayed at the house for like an hour, but as soon as it was 6:30 PM it was time to go Black Friday shopping (a lot of stores are starting their sales on Thursday evening). We started at Target, I heard some crazy stories but it wasn’t as busy as I expected. We bought some stuff and after this it was time to go Ulta. This is where I bought some Christmas presents because a lot of makeup was on sale. Next was best buy. Because Haley asked us to buy a tv on sale (yes, buying TV's on Black Friday is a real thing). Getting the tv wasn’t that hard, but fitting it into the car was a big challenge. We were all squeezed up in the back, but it was pretty funny! 

We went to the house to drop off our first stuff, so we could fit more stuff in the back of the car when we continued shopping. Around 11:20 we were done shopping but we were all pretty hungry, so we decided to White Castle for a late night snack. This is a St. Louis thing, but not really anything I’m gonna miss at home, because the quality wasn’t good at all. After this it was time to go back to Chuck’s house to take a short nap, because we continued shopping at 8 AM on Friday. We went to the West County mall, which was really big and had a lot of stores where I love to shop. So we spent a lot of money and stayed there for almost 4 hours. 

When we were done, we went to a pizza place for lunch and dropped our stuff off at the house. We took a short nap and after this, it was time to go to a park to see a lot of Christmas lights. On our way back, Amy still needed some stuff so we continued shopping for a while. We arrived back at the house around 9:30 and I went straight to bed, because a whole day of shopping is pretty exhausting. 

On Saturday it was time to go back to Mexico. The back of our car was totally full and we even had stuff in our back seat. The afternoon was pretty lazy and in the evening Ben came over to watch a movie, we hadn’t hang out in for ever so we had a lot to talk about. 

On Sunday morning I went to Church with Amy and Anna, we don’t go a lot because we’re always busy on the weekends, but when they go I just go with them. After church I got ready for Luduz’s birthday party. This was so much fun. We made a deal to make a video with her one time, so we can introduce her too. 

When I got home Grant came over, because we haven’t seen each other for the whole weekend. We watched a movie with Anna and Josh, but I fell asleep (as usual). 

It was a good way to end this Thanksgiving break! 

Thankful

This Thursday (28th of November), it is Thanksgiving. This is a typical American holiday. They celebrate where they’re thankful for. We’ll explain next week how we did this, but this week we want to let you know where we’re thankful for. 

We’ll both wrote our separate thank you notes, and at the end we will write a little bit together. Have fun reading and try not to cry :p


Flora:

I’m thankful for a lot of people, so I already want to say sorry if I forget something! A lot has happened this year so it’s gonna be a long list.

First I want to thank all my friends at home that I still talk to, I was kinda scared that I was going to lose contact with a lot of them, but I realized that I still talk to all my real friends! I’m so happy that all of you supported me when I left, but that we’re already making so many fun plans for when I’m back. I can’t wait to see all of you at the airport of at my house as soon as I’m back so we can continue making a lot of fun memories! 

The next thing I’m thankful for are the friends I made in New York! I’m so happy that I can always text all of you if I have any questions. I love our crazy snapchat group and I can’t wait until we all reunite in the Netherlands so we can finally party together! 

My friends from home are not the only friends I’m thankful for! I also want to thank all my new friends that I made over here! You guys can’t even imagine how much y’all mean to me! Every single one of you is making this exchange year the best experience it can be! I’m so happy that I’m here and got the opportunity to meet all of you! 

Another thank you goes to my family and family friends. Even though we’re not really close, I always enjoy our family occasions and get together. I know that all of you are supporting me during this crazy adventure. I’m excited to see all of you again in six months!

I’m also so thankful for Anna and Amy to take me into your house and treat me like I’m part of their family! I can’t even imagine how this year would be without the two of you! Not only Anna and Amy treat me like I’m a part of the family, so also a big thank you to the rest of the family. I love every single one of you! 

Next I want to thank my two best friends in the whole world! Lotte and Fernando, you guys can’t even imagine how happy I’m going to be when I see the two of you again at the airport! I couldn’t wish for better friends, you two really feel like my own brother and sister! 

My second last thank you goes to my sister, I couldn’t live without you and I love and miss you so much. I’m so happy that we became so close over the last few years (even though you hated me as a little kid lol) and I’m so excited to jump on your bed again, pause your series and just start talking to you! I miss how we would talk about everything together (I know we still do it on facetime but that’s different). I can’t wait to see you again so we can laugh, sing and cry together again. 

The last and most important thank you is for my lovely parents. When I first told you that I wanted to do this, no one expected that I was actually going to do this. But from the moment I got serious about it you never did anything else than just support me. I’m so happy that both of you helped me with chasing my dream and never doubt me. I couldn’t have wished for better parents, you raised me to the girl I currently am and I’m so proud of the characteristics that I got from both of you! I can’t wait to see you again in May! I miss and love you so, so much! 


Joy:

I am thankful for so many people. I don’t even know where to start!

I am thankful for all my friends from The Netherlands who still keep in touch with me and let me see that they still care. You guys have been there when I left and are still going to be there when I get back and that is so amazing and I am truly thankful for that. 

I am thankful for the new friends I made here. Even though I am not staying forever, you still wanted to be friends with me and have made this year the best so far and we still have so much more to do! Can’t wait for what the rest of this year holds for us. 

I am thankful for my boyfriends family who still keep in touch with me and give me nothing but love and support! I am so thankful to have you and I really see you as my own family. You have always taken me to family events and I loved every single one of them because they made me see what an amazing family you guys are and I am so happy to have you. 

I am thankful for my family who have always supported me during this crazy adventure! It really means the world to see all the sweet comments on my blog and all the texts. I miss you guys a lot but I know I will see you in a few months standing on Schiphol to welcome me back! But first I am going to enjoy the rest of my amazing year here. 

I am thankful for Linda who took me in her home and treated me like I am her own daughter since the second I got here. You have given me so much love over the past few months I have been here and really gave me a second home. I am thankful everyday when I wake up in my lovely room. I couldn’t have asked for a better host family! You are the best. 

I am thankful for my boyfriend who has always been one of my biggest supporters. I always said that I wouldn't get a boyfriend before America but I am so happy I did. If I’m ever a little sad you will tell me that it will be alright and it always does. You still make me laugh even though I am on the other side of the world. You are truly my best friend and I don’t know what I would have done without you. Can’t wait to overload you with tons of kisses again xxx. 

I am thankful for my (still little) sister. You would always just walk in my room and than we would talk and I appreciate those times so much more now. I know that we sometimes fight but you are really the best sis ever. Even though your living in MY room right now and riding on MY bike in MY coat, I still love you. I miss your silliness and your crazy ideas about owning a pig or something. Can’t wait to show you all the animals here in Mexico and have you here with me during my graduation! 

My last and biggest thank you goes to my parents. You guys have always been my biggest supporters in this major decision and without you two I could have never done this. I am so thankful that you let me do this. You really made my dream come true, and that all because of my amazing parents. You have raised me to be the best version of myself and that I should always stand up for myself. I can’t thank you enough for that. I have learned so much from you over the years. You have seen me grow my whole life until the point that you had to let me go for a year. I know that it is hard but just know that I am truly having the time of my life and I cannot wait to have you guys with me here and show you all of Mexico, Missouri! Much love, your daughter. 


Together:

We hope you enjoy reading this! We’re really thankful that Travel Active, Ayusa, Amy and Linda gave us the opportunity to be here together. We couldn’t have wished for a better place to live and a better friend to share this adventure with! Don’t worry about us being sad during the holidays, we’ll get through everything together! 

Much love, Joy and Flora

Senior pictures

A typical American thing is taking senior pictures. This means that you hire a professional photographer to go take pictures. Out of those pictures you use the best one for the yearbook. Americans hire professional photographers for a lot of important things like graduation, prom, new family members, etc.  

Of course we had to participate with this tradition. On Saturday November 2th , we went outside with a friend of Linda who’s a photographer and took a lot of pictures. Our theme was going to be fall, but you don’t see this in every picture.

We started at lake view park, this is a park close to our houses where we go for a walk sometimes. It’s really pretty and we took a lot of cute pictures over here.  


After lake view park it was time to go to Flora’s house to take some pictures with a really pretty tree in the front yard. 

 We also decided to take some pictures with Chucks dog (our parents are gonna be proud, because we’re actually scared of the big dog lol). 

After this we drove around and saw a pretty barn, so we decided to take pictures in front of that too!

Next was the train rail in our town, the sun was really bright, so they weren’t our best pictures. We have a cute one together, but none individual ones. 

The last location was our high school. We took one in front of the building while we were jumping and we took one in front of the MHS sign. This is a really popular spot to take senior pictures. 

We hope you enjoyed looking at all our senior pictures! 

XOXO Joy and Flora

difference in schools

We already had a big reality check in the first week here. Even though it is so different from our schools in The Netherlands, it is still no High School Musical! It is all about the sports over here instead of only working or studying. What we learned in our first year of high school, people over here only learn that in their senior (last) year. Just like English. We know more about the rules than the other (American) kids in our class. Even though it is not even our native language, we know more about it than real Americans! Besides that, American schools have a lot more fun stuff. We think the biggest difference between a Dutch High School and an American is that it’s all about the sports in America and in The Netherlands it is only working and studying. The high school spirit is really big over here. Even when you are not really athletic, you can always join a club like quizball. You go to games with this club and compete against other schools. If you get more questions correct than the other team you win. They are always really smart. The biggest American sports are football and basketball. During these games, there are cheerleaders (just like us), the crowd and the band. Football is always a big event on Friday, we didn’t experience basketball games yet. The first time we really felt the high school spirit was during one of these games. How excited the crowd always is, the band playing music and the cheerleaders doing cheers. It is amazing to see. Next to the sport there are a lot more differences like the lockers. They are way bigger here in America (imagine a Dutch locker but 3 times bigger) but they don’t use their lockers. They say they don’t have time to go to their lockers during class hours. We can imagine that because we only have a few minutes to change class and the lockers are all over the place. There are lockers on every floor. Some people who have their lockers on the ground floor use them when they leave school because it is already on their way out. The schedule is also way different. You have the same schedule every day. If you have art in your first hour, you always have art in your first hour. It doesn’t change. The time the hours start is also really weird and confusing. First hour starts at 8:03 am and so it goes on. In The Netherlands it is always with round numbers like 8:20 am and lunch started at 12:50 pm Now, lunch starts at 11:38 am. At the beginning of our fourth hour, the first lunch starts. In the middle of our fourth hour, the second group gets out of their fourth hour and goes to lunch and the first lunch group goes to their fourth hour. When the bell rings for the third time during fourth hour, we can go have lunch because we are in third lunch. The second group goes back to their fourth hour and finish the second half of their class. In The Netherlands, the whole school has lunch at the same time. This was something that we had to get used to. On Wednesdays we have ‘late start’. This means that we start school later. Instead of 8:03 am, first hour starts at 8:33 am. Because Linda (Joy’s host mom) doesn’t have a late start, we always ride with Anna on Wednesdays (Floor’s host sister). 

Besides this, the whole school system is way different from what we’re used to. In The Netherlands, everyone goes to school when they’re four years old. They stay in elementary school for eight years and then we go to high school. The level you do, determines the amount of years that you have to go to high school for. VMBO takes 4 years, this is the lowest and most average level. In this level you can do ‘basis’, ‘kader’ and MAVO (TL). If you decide to do one level higher, you do HAVO, this takes 5 years to finish, if you don’t have to do a year over. The highest level is VWO and this takes 6 years. Depending on the level you graduate from high school, depends on which level you can go to in college.  

In the US this system is way different. Kids go to elementary school when they’re 6 years old. After four years they go to middle school for four years, after that it’s time for high school. Here, people think it’s weird that we were 12/11 when we went to high school, because the normal age to go to high school here is 14. When they’re in high school, they don’t have to choose a profile, they just have an amount of credits that they have to get from different subjects to graduate. When they want to apply for college, their GPA and ACT scores are really important. Their GPA is their Grade Point Average, this shows how high they score on their average courses. The ACT is a really important test, a lot of colleges look at their scores if they apply. People with a really high GPA or ACT score, are having a bigger chance to get a good scholarship.

The subjects here are way different than in The Netherlands. In The Netherlands, most of our subjects are the standard ones who require a lot of study and work. Here they have a lot of subjects who are more relaxing. Think about art, choir, yearbook or a lot of different types of PE. Some courses are duo credit (DC), this means that you pay an amount of money to follow a subject. When you pass this, you get the high school credit, but also the college credit. Apparently, these classes are pretty hard but it stands really good on your diploma if you’re going to apply for college. 

When someone over here has enough college credits, she or he can skip a year, or even two, when they go to college. We have someone in our grade who already did so many hours on a college class that she is going straight to her junior year in college (her third year) because she already learned all the stuff they teach you in the first and second year of her college major. Back in The Netherlands, we didn’t even think that much about college. We only start thinking about which study we want to do in college half way in our second last year in high school. Here in the US they are already stressing about it in their sophomore (second) year. It is a way bigger deal. 

We’re really happy with the Dutch education system and we think the US can learn a lot from it. Even though the American high schools are way more fun, we think you learn better and more in The Netherlands and we’re glad that we still can experience this. 

Halloween

Halloween is really big here in America. Everyone is carving pumpkins, decorating their houses and going to school in customs. Back in The Netherlands we didn’t really do a lot with it. It was kind off just a normal day. This is one more big experience to celebrate Halloween big! 

We still had to go to school but it was actually a pretty fun day. We woke up to snow. It is only the end of October and we already have snow! It is not much yet but everyone says it is going to be the coldest winter in 50 years so we expect a lot of snow. After we got to school we saw a lot of people with cool customs. There was one kid who is really small with red hair so he was dressed up as a Irish dwarf. It looked really funny. After lunch, we had an assembly (that means that we all come together in the big gym) for tomorrow. It was a woman who was telling about her life and that it isn’t always amazing. She was telling us about fake friends, her alcoholic dad, her career. She had a hard time growing up and thinking that she wasn’t good enough until she knew she was good enough for herself. It was really inspiring. She was going to say the same thing tomorrow. Tomorrow we have districts. All the student council groups of every school in our district is coming to our school. This means that we have to decorate the whole school to look good. We have been working on this for a few weeks and it is really good to see how it all came together. 

After school, we all had to make the finishing touches on everything. Our job was to organize the registration. We had to make the name tags, give everyone lunch tickets and give them their shirts when all the schools come in. after we were done with having everything done and ready for tomorrow, we helped with the decorations and after everything was done, we could go home. 

When we went home it was already in the evening so we saw a lot of kids dressed up as monsters or princesses and going from door to door trick or treating. It was really cool to see that in real life for once and not only in the movies. The houses were also decorated. Some houses more than others. Some had big blown up creatures as witches or cats in their front yards with cobwebs and spiders or zombies. A lot of houses had carved pumpkins too. It was a lot. There were even houses that turned their front yard into a graveyard. It was amazing to see. Even though we had to work in school for Halloween, it was still fun to see all the decorations and the videos online.