Friendship, Social Equity, and Houseboats

Wednesday 7th September, 2016

Wow – I think I may have made two new friends here. I met them at SOU after school drop off – Daniela and Doreen. We went for coffee together. They’re both good company. We’ve agreed to keep meeting every Wednesday after drop off. I’m very fortunate in one respect in starting a new school, despite the chaos it means that many parents are looking to forge new connections. 

The children keep disturbing my sleep, getting into my bed in the middle of the night, first Gabe and then Marlene. They are seeking comfort, so far away from home, and feeling very confronted by the new school, which is definitely not bilingual (as they stated in our interview from Australia). They’ve apparently not received their funding to be bilingual it would seem, although they’re not being upfront about it. It’s not fair on the children and consequently their behaviour is very challenging right now. It’s taking all my efforts to regulate myself and not react, but I’m not doing as good a job as I’d like. I guess I’m also feeling very out of my comfort zone. 

I think we should have sent the children to an International School, but Jon’s work would not cover the expense (start ups are tight arses). And we wanted an authentic Dutch experience after all, but this is maybe too authentic! There is an education crisis here. There are too many expats to accommodate in the school system and privatisation of international schooling means it’s overpriced and basically unaffordable, that is, unless you’re a banker. I’ve investigated other bilingual schools here, but none have places. I must meet with the director of SOU about the children getting support to learn Dutch soon. They’re being thrown in the deep end and I never anticipated it being so hard on them. 

Of course, private schooling is just not even a consideration for local Amsterdamers and as such all of the children are schooled together regardless of their socio-economic background. This means that there’s more social cross-pollination here. It may also mean more racial tolerance too. Although, I’ve noticed some Moroccan and Islamic ghettos in the West. But, so far my impression is that life is more equitable here overall. Community housing is frequently interspersed with the private housing. Subsidised housing means that more people experience a better standard of living because they don’t have exorbitant rental prices. 

I have no idea how on earth we ended up so close to the ex-pat ghetto in Oud-Zuid! So white-bread (shudder). Not my style at all. Still, must not complain – first world problem. I had a fantasy of living on a houseboat, but for now the closest I’m going to get is the houseboat museum