East goes Dutch


Imagine living in a world where the most common mode of transportation was the bicycle. Where alcohol was legal at the age of sixteen and boys played field hockey. Where the school’s entire student body visited a foreign country for three weeks.

This is the world that Noé Bouman and Matthijs de Frankrijker live in. Bouman and de Frankrijker, two foreign exchange students from the Netherlands, came to East to experience American life. The duo left two weeks ago. East sophomores, Evan Bloom (’14) and Ross Peterzell (’14), showed the boys around East and Cherry Hill.

Bouman and de Frankrijker’s school required the entire student body to visit an English speaking country for three weeks.

“It was for an internship for our school,” Bouman said. “Our whole class is leaving.”

Some students chose Australia. Some chose Canada. Bouman and de Frankrijker chose America – Cherry Hill, specifically.

De Frankrijker said, “We stayed for three weeks. First we were in New York for a week and then we came to Cherry Hill.”

According to Bloom, the boys chose Cherry Hill because they could live with friends their own age for the duration of their stay.

And during their stay, the boys attended East like regular students.

Well, almost regular students.

“We don’t have to do homework,” de Frankrijker said. Although it could be argued that this detracts from the high school experience, the duo probably did not mind.

At any rate, the boys thoroughly enjoyed other aspects of school. More specifically, the students they met during the course of their stay.

“We have a group of good friends,” de Frankrijker said. “We call it The Crew.”

Not only did East’s students leave a lasting impression on the boys—the staff did as well.

Bouman said, “I really like Dr. O’Breza. He’s very hospitable.”

Hospitable sounds about right. According to the boys, O’Breza gave them, Bloom, and Peterzell entire outfits of East apparel: sweatshirts, bags, and lanyards – the works.

In addition to their new apparel, the boys have other new souvenirs to take back home. One such souvenir is the memories of their experience at a foreign school.

According to Bouman, the teachers at East are much less strict than the teachers from the Netherlands.

De Frankrijker also said, “School is less big [in the Netherlands]. And we don’t have school buses. We cycle.”

School isn’t the only thing different in the Netherlands. The customs of the nation are much different too.

According to de Frankrijker, marijuana is legal and alcohol is legal for people who are sixteen years old or older.

However, Bouman said, “You have to be eighteen to have a driver’s license.”

Bouman and de Frankrijker plan to return to America. But the Netherlands isn’t on a different planet altogether – there are some similarities to life in the United States.

For example, teens partake in many of the same activities.

De Frankrijker said,“I like to hang out with friends. It’s the same as [America]. Sporting. Video games.”

De Frankrijker plays soccer and Bouman plays field hockey, which is also a boys’ sport in the Netherlands.

The boys speak almost fluent English, even though their native language is Dutch.

“They’ve only been taking English for three years,” Bloom said.

Despite their mastery of the English language, their love for East, and their exemption from homework, the boys have returned to the Netherlands.

But don’t think that you’ve seen the last of them.

According to de Frankrijker, they plan to return to East next year for about five months.

Bouman said, “I love America. I’ll definitely be back. As soon as possible.”