To get a better insight into what it’s really like to learn Dutch in Seefeld, we had an interview with the person who has witnessed every dentist group from up close since the very beginning of the dentistry project in 2012: Josie. She works at Hotel Wetterstein in Seefeld, Austria, where the 3-month language course takes place. She cooks for the dentists every day, and organises extracurricular activities to keep everyone happy and healthy inbetween studying. In this interview, she tells us all about how so many dentists in Seefeld have over the years been able to improve their lives and careers, but she also highlights some of the difficulties that dentists face when they move to a new country.
Dentist in Holland: Four years ago, the first group of dentists arrived in Hotel Wetterstein in Seefeld. Looking back, what are the things that come to mind?
When I think of the beginning, many things come to mind. We, the Wetterstein Hotel team, were very happy with the new DPA project. It was quite exciting to welcome that first group of dentists. Nearly all of them were from Spain, and I was personally very happy to have people who spoke my native language in Austria.
As for the dentists themselves, they had many questions. Why Austria? Why only Spanish dentists? And so on. Everything was new as well as interesting. I could see that most of them were a bit nervous when they arrived at the hotel, during the first breakfast and when they met the hotel team and their new classmates. Most of them didn’t know what to expect. Having kids their age, I understood them very well and did what I am still doing: do my best to make them feel comfortable and welcome in their new home for the next 3 months.
All in all, I think it is a special experience for every dentist who comes here. They are always amazed by the breathtaking view of the mountains and the beautiful town, taking pictures and sending them to their families. Some groups even grow so close that they practically become a family in the 3 months they spend here.
From my perspective, I can honestly say that it seems like an amazing life experience for these young dentists.
Before our dentists start working in the Netherlands, they stay in Seefeld during 3 months. How would you describe your own role during these this time?
During their 3-month stay in Seefeld, the most important task of the dentists is to learn Dutch. They have to study hard for many hours, which naturally leads to stress from time to time. But they’re here to learn a new language and it is not a holiday. My main responsibility is to cook for them. It is very important that they eat the right and healthy food, so I try to accommodate every taste. The first group was nearly completely Spanish, but by now the groups tend to be a lot more diverse and international, so I always make an extra effort to have a bit of everything for everyone. We always have our Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican, Italian nights, etc. Our dentists are also allowed to cook once or twice and get a taste of each other’s cuisines.
If a dentist would like to have an idea of what it’s like to learn Dutch and stay in Seefeld for 3 months, can you describe what the days look like?
I love spending time with the groups. Since I am a very active hiker and nature lover, I invite them to join me for a hike if they’re up for it. There is something else other than just learning and studying Dutch all day. Since they spend so much time in the hotel studying, I believe that it is quite healthy for body and mind to go out and enjoy the beautiful surroundings Seefeld has to offer during their free time. Seefeld has so much to offer in every season. The winter is just as amazing as the summer. Winter skiing, ice skating, cross country, etc. Summer hikes to the top of the beautiful Austrian Alps, long walks or biking through the woods, wonderful rivers, waterfalls and lakes. The fall is also fun because the famous German Oktoberfest in nearby Munich, which is a yearly event not to be missed. And of course, more hiking!Dentists see the mountains every day from our Lounge windows and I tell them that before they go to Holland, they can climb to the top if they want to. Most do think they cannot do it, but I like to prove them wrong! I love the sight of their faces when they reach the peak and look down to Seefeld. I am so proud of them and I tell them so. These are unforgettable experiences that they will always remember.
With the Dutch language course in Seefeld having been around for four years, you have seen many dentists. With that experience in mind, what kind of advice can you give them before coming?
After 4 years of meeting so many dentists that have participated in this Dutch course, I can only tell any future candidates that life is not easy. We have to leave our comfort zone if we are not happy and want to change our current situation. I believe that nothing worth having comes easy. So if we want to have a better life and be sucessful , it is important to stop doubting ourselves, work hard and make it happen. I know this can be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. Many dentists have told me that choosing to enter this DPA course has been one of the best decisions in their lives. It all depends on our attitude and willpower.
I have a few most memorable memories during these 4 years and one of them is my private free time I have spent with the dentists here in Austria during our tours and also my visits to Holland and see them happy and successful. It makes me very proud to see these young people having a better life and being well-integrated into their new country. I hear them speaking their new language and amazes me that in such short time, they can speak Dutch.
Why do you think the Dutch course in Seefeld is interesting and suitable for dentists? Would you recommend it yourself?
I strongly believe that Seefeld is the perfect place to learn a new language. It is a truly beautiful town. You can have peace and quiet, but there are also big cities nearby: Salzburg, Innsbruck, Munich, Vienna, etc. Here the dentists can really concentrate and learn Dutch. If you prefer to be alone, what better way to study and do your homework on your balcony with a mountain view or joining the rest of the group in our lounge for group study.I look forward to meet and welcome our new future groups to Seefeld and rest assured that the first step is always the hardest but at the end, it is worthwhile.