This year, Montevideo High School has welcomed a foreign exchange student from the Netherlands by the name of Pien Veld.
Veld is 17 years old, and is from the town of Harderwijk, in the province of Gelderland located almost directly in the center of the Netherlands. She is currently staying with Alyssa and Todd Ricke, along with their sons and her host brothers Tate and Ty Ricke.

This year, Montevideo High School has welcomed a foreign exchange student from the Netherlands by the name of Pien Veld.

Veld is 17 years old, and is from the town of Harderwijk, in the province of Gelderland located almost directly in the center of the Netherlands. She is currently staying with Alyssa and Todd Ricke, along with their sons and her host brothers Tate and Ty Ricke.

Back home Veld has one sibling, a younger brother. “My mom has her own company in marketing, and my dad works at fancy restaurants and manages them,” said Veld.

According to Veld, high school here in the United States is a little different than it is back home.

“At age 12 you go to high school and kids at high school are from age 12 to 18. There are three different levels of high school, and you have to take a test when you’re 12 and that depends which level of high school you’re going to,” explained Veld.

“The hardest level you go to high school for six years, then the medium level is five years and the lowest level is four years.”

If you are in the highest level, you are able to be accepted into better universities, and according to Veld you cannot, for example, study a field like medicine if you are in the lowest or intermediate level, as it is only open to individuals in the highest level.

When Veld returns to her country, she would like to study medicine or psychology. “I’m not sure yet,” she said.

Regarding classes, the way they are set up here run a little differently than what she is used to back home.

“The levels are different, and here you’re in grades, like there are multiple grades in one class,” said Veld. “Like algebra for example, I’m with juniors and seniors and back home you’re only in class with your age group. We also don’t have sports at school back home, you do it outside of school.”

“They have club sports,” said Alyssa Ricke. “It’s completely separate where the family pays for it, so if you’re into track and field, you go to track and field club and soccer if you are in soccer.”

Also different is the fact that the sports clubs run year round, instead of seasonally the way they do here.

Among the differences there are also similarities Veld has noticed between schooling here and in the Netherlands. “Subjects are the same, the way it’s taught is the same, we just use different methods for some of the things we do,” she said.

According to Veld, unlike classes back home, here they are the same every day. “Back home, every day is different, we don’t have the same classes every day. Some days you have more classes than other days.”

Ricke added, “It almost seems like they follow more of a college scenario for some of their classes and schooling, if you look at it that way.”

So far, Veld has really enjoyed her experience with school. Her favorite class is psychology with Mrs. Kuhlmann, who also happens to be her homeroom teacher. She was also involved in cross country last fall, and would like to be in track and field this spring. “I used to do track and field back home, but I would do it the entire year round,” said Veld. “I started when I was five years old and you can do it until you’re, say 100.”

Back in the Netherlands, Veld said she came from a small city. “I had to get used to smaller when I came here. I lived in a smaller city, but now I think it’s a big city compared to Montevideo. Something I like is that everyone knows each other, it’s really cute,” she said. “The Netherlands is also very compact, like you don’t have the big long roads with nothing like you do here, it’s a lot more open. The cities here are way bigger and there’s way more people."

Something else that Veld wasn’t used to coming here was the Minnesota weather. “Back home we get a lot of rain and it doesn’t get as cold.”

Veld has seen snow, but not to the extent or the amount of how much we typically see in the winter. “Like in March, it would snow for maybe three days, then it would rain again and it would be gone.”

According to Veld, making friends here has been fairly easy since she arrived. “I started with cross country before school started, so since I already knew some people that really helped. It hasn’t been that hard, everyone has been really nice.”

Another difference Veld has noticed from her home country is that there, teenagers are typically more independent than they are here. “People back home are more free than here, here people don’t really go to parties, but back home most people my age are at parties on the weekends,” she said.

Veld added: “Parents here are more so wanting to know where you’re at and who you’re with compared to back home. Like I just need to say to my mom ‘I’m on my way home,’ or something at night, which is normal. You don’t really have to say where you’re going or what you’re doing as long as you’re safe.”

According to Veld, the food here is a little different as well. “Back in Europe, everything is more homemade. My dad used to have a big garden and before supper we would get some vegetables out of the garden and eat that, and here it’s a little bit more processed.”

Some of Veld’s favorite foods she has had so far has been wild rice, and wheat thins.

Back home, Veld is used to eating a lot of fish. “We have a huge variety and it’s always fresh. Here if you want fish it’s usually frozen, we don’t really have that back home.”

In her free time, Veld likes to hang out with her friends, play sports, and play games with her host brothers. She also likes to Facetime her family back home if she gets the chance.

“I try to call or Facetime them every week, but with the time difference it’s a little hard during the week. If I come home from school, it’s already almost midnight there,” she said.

According to Veld, her experience here in the United States, and specifically Minnesota has been great. “I think the people in Minnesota are really kind. In this town, everyone asks how you’re doing, and a lot of people have come up to me and asked my how my year’s been going, and things like that,” said Veld. “Everyone is really kind, it’s been awesome.”