Eline’s 18th birthday in Florida

Holiday Season is over and we all picked up our regular activities. Most Christmas decorations have disappeared, only a few diehards keep their decorations (like a red nose of a reindear on the front of their car). Our favourite radio station no longer plays Christmas music 😊. Christmas is a special time, but we are happy to end it and to move on to ‘a new year’.

A new year with lots of nice and interesting things to look forward to. Starting this week with Eline’s 18th birthday. Quite a milestone for her as well as for us as parents! Such as letting her drive on her own with a friend to go skating in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. Let it go and trust her 😅. At the end of the afternoon she arrived home safely with a big smile on her face saying “I really liked this and I turned the music up very loud”.


The rest of this blog is written by Eline …

“I am exited to write this blog and to share some cool American stuff with you.

Everyday school starts at 8:30 and I’m done at 15:20. It’s quite a long day and it includes all the 7 classes I follow this year. When I enter the school in the morning I always see students lining up in the cafeteria to get their free breakfast. In this public school there is a lot of diversity in students and nationalities and there are also a lot of students who don’t have much money. For them a free breakfast is a very nice way to help them a bit.

I walk through the courtyard up the stairs to my locker, which is on the top floor. So you can say I have quite some exercise in the morning already ;-). You must be wondering: is it the same locker as in those American movies? Well, I can assure you, it is. Which is super awesome of course :). I always carry two bags in the morning; one is my schoolbag, and the other is my sportsbag for the sportsactivities after school. This sportsbag is the one I drop in my locker and I won’t be seeing it till the end of the day. And then, 1st period starts.

Every class lasts 50 minutes with 5 minutes to walk to our next class. By the way, most students walk with the books in their hands. Most of the time I really need the full 5 min as I sometimes have to walk to the other side of the school. Imagine having to fit 3500+ students in classrooms spread over different buildings, believe me, this school is large! If you would see a view of my school from a helicopter, you would see a big courtyard surrounded by 6 buildings. So every time you walk to a different class, you go through the courtyard, which is nice because you are outside and can enjoy the beautiful weather of Florida for a few minutes.

In the weeks I have been here, I have met a lot of people and everyone is really friendly. They are interested in me because I come from the Netherlands (by sailboat). We have a lot of discussions about the typical differences between our cultures. This makes it really easy to make friends!

After 4th period there is a 30 minute break. Some people have lunch in the cafeteria. But it gets really crowded there and many people don’t like it because of the smell and the uncomfortable chairs. Also, there is a huge line of students waiting to buy food of which some don’t even make it before the end of the break ….

And for the people who have seen movie scenes from American High Schools: yes there are specific tables for people with the same nationalities / races.

However, I spend almost every lunchtime in the courtyard eating lunch brought from home and by now I know so many people, that I can have lunch with different students everytime.

After school at 15:20 I usualy go to the chemistry classroom where I do my homework for about half an hour. I like sitting there because it’s really quiet and there is a friendly teacher who explains a lot of stuff to me as well. Next stop is the swimming pool, located in the sports-area next to the school. I meet up with the swimteam, which includes many nice people (boys and girls mixed). We start at 16.00 with half an hour of “dryland” exercise that mostly includes running and some pretty exhausting abbs and sprinting. Next we jump  in the pool until 18:30. Most of the days I’m not home till 19:00, so pretty long days!

Before we arrived, I had this picture in my mind about Florida that included the lovely weather and the palm trees you see everywhere. Check, it is there! What took me by surprise, is the American culture and High School experience!

I didn’t know they really have those huge American lockers, or the gym hall that you always see in movies. I also didn’t know sports are such a commitment over here. To practice over 2 hours a day is rather special in the Netherlands, and most of the time part of a professional sport. Over here, this is business as usual! Also the diversity of nationalities and rich and poor took me by surprise.

On Thursday, the 11th of January, it was my 18th birthday :). I had an awesome day at home and at school. In the morning family time with presents and singing. I got a nice keyboard so now I can play piano everywhere, and additionally a collage with photo’s from my childhood till now and a cute necklace.


When I opened my locker at school two huge “happy birthday” helium balloons jump out! Here everybody walks all day with their birthday balloons, and so did I! Lots of congratulations and attention from everybody, I really enjoyed this!

In the evening we went to our favorite Japanese restaurant Benihana. The food was incredible and I love spending time like this with my family on my birthday.

It’s unfortunate that I can’t see my friends from the Netherlands, but I got a lot of congratulations by social media, I really appreciate that!

Friday evening, Marinthe and I went to the movies to see the lovely movie The Greatest Showman. Sunday night I had a sleep-over with two friends, which we all really enjoyed. So in the end, it was a birthday I’ll never forget and I want to thank everyone for it!”