In late March and early April, I went on an exchange to the Netherlands with nine other students. We learned a lot about their culture, international travel and how science and maths are used in everyday living activities around the world. During our exchange, we were fortunate enough to be hosted by generous homestay families, who welcomed us into their homes. They showed us around their cities, sharing their traditions, ways of life and it was awesome to compare this with our lives back in Adelaide. It was a truly immersive experience that allowed us to see this great country from another perspective.
It was an incredibly interesting and informative experience. There were many highlights like the canal tour (Amsterdam), eating traditional Dutch food like the Bossche bol, stroopwafels, and fries with mayo. We also visited the Tilburg University (by bike of course), got creative with traditional Dutch techniques to make some art, went to many museums and churches, were welcomed to the City of Tilburg by the Deputy Mayor who gave us a tour of the council chambers (and castle), travelled by farm trailer to an automated dairy, went to The Hague (and saw the International Criminal Court and the Girl with the Pearl Earring), and climbed some of the world’s steepest stairs (with luggage).
Another interesting aspect of the trip was learning about the need to use a range of methods to keep the water levels stable. The Netherlands is a country which is famously below sea level, so the Dutch have developed sophisticated systems for managing water. We were able to see some of these in action and learn the science behind them. We also visited the Body World Museum, where we saw intricate bodies in a range of poses. It was fascinating and thought-provoking experience that gave us a unique insight into the workings of the human body. The Palace on the Dam was another highlight of the trip. We were able to admire the details and craftmanship of this impressive building and learn about the history of the Dutch royal family.
I learned a lot about the ways science and maths are integral to our daily lives regardless of where we live. From designing buildings and bridges to developing new and innovative ways to keep the rising sea level manageable and reducing the carbon footprint through using and encouraging bicycle usage, science and maths play a crucial role in many aspects of our modern world. This was emphasised in the physics lesson we had with one of the experts in physics from the St Odulphus School.
I would like to express my deep thanks to Kay and Tun for leading the trip and sharing their knowledge, patients, and generosity with us. Without them, this experience would not have been possible, and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication. Also, thanks to those who made this exchange possible before we left. This was a memorable opportunity and one I am grateful I took up.