Student Spotlight on Valerie Wierenga: Finding a Family Connection in the Netherlands

Student Spotlight on Valerie Wierenga: Finding a Family Connection in the Netherlands

As part of our ongoing student spotlight series, all of us at Greenheart Travel are thrilled to introduce our featured high school abroad student of the week, Valerie Wierenga!  Read a little bit about Valerie and her reasons for studying in the Netherlands !

Name, Age & Home:

Valerie Wierenga, 18 years old from Grand Rapids, Michigan

Favorite thing to do in your free time?

Run, play soccer, bake, and hang out with friends and family

valerie and friends

Have you traveled abroad before?

Yes, I have traveled with family to Europe and visited several countries there including England, Belgium, Scotland, France. I have also traveled to Honduras for medical mission trips. 

What got you interested in studying abroad?

I’ve always had a passion for traveling and several of my siblings have studied abroad at Oxford and various schools in college, so it is something I’ve always hoped to do. However, because I will be competing in collegiate athletics I did not think I would ever have the chance to participate in study abroad. I was thrilled when I found Greenheart Travel and their program that allows me to travel abroad in high school.

valerie and track

What are you most excited about?

I am most excited to learn a new language, see what school is like in a different country, and make new relationships. All my relatives are from the Netherlands so I am excited to learn more about where my family is from and be able to speak Dutch with my Grandpa. 

What do you think you will miss the most from home?

I’m sure I will miss my family and friends from home the most. I have a close relationship with my parents and 7 siblings as well as my friends from school and sports. I’ll miss them, but I’m not nervous about becoming homesick because I have spent extended time traveling before, and this trip is something I am very excited to take.

What are you nervous about?

I am nervous about the Dutch language because I am not confident in my speaking or reading skills. I am also nervous about attending school because I want to adjust to the new environment well, and meet other students.

How well do you speak Dutch at this point?  

I don’t know Dutch very well, I just know basic words and grammar rules, but I am working on learning more before I leave.

How do you think you will change the most in your time abroad?

Throughout my trip I think I will become more independent and better at trying new things often.

Have any advice for Valerie on her upcoming adventure in the Netherlands? Comment below!

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