The Utrecht Trip. Exposition.

Wow, that was a really full four days. Um. Ack.

I need to back up a bit, to talk about schools. Specifically, back when DrBob was working in London, we did consider moving there. London is chaotic, dirty (well, compared to West Germany) and expensive, but we figured all of that could be gotten past. Then we found out that the public schools pretty much suck, that there are some good ones but no way to assure that our kids’d get into those, so our only option would be private school, and even some of those suck. Ack. DrBob and I are big believers in public education – I think private schools breed snobbishness, and I really dislike snobs. And to pay tens of thousands of um, local-currency-units and end up with some elitist twerp for a kid… bleck.

So for the England move, the school situation was the deal-breaker.

The Dutch school system is different from Germany’s, but similar in that it has several different streams of secondary education, and the college-prep stream is called “gymnasium.” I emailed three of the gymnasia the week before we left, to say I’d like to speak to someone while I was there. Two didn’t answer me at all, and the third was extremely rude and dismissive.

Now, we’re more or less resigned to spending half a million euros (that’s a million marks, as DrBob keeps reminding me in a voice a few octaves higher than his usual one) on a house, and coping with the weather and the mosquitoes and being shorter than everyone. But this response from the schools seemed to indicate that our kid wouldn’t be able to go to a gymnasium, not because he’s not smart enough, but because he’s too foreign. And that’s when we began to seriously reconsider moving up there.

And I became extremely anxious and upset, which is why I wasn’t blogging (or talking) much. Because I’ve really been looking forward to moving, and I already posted to the Dutch Knitters group on Ravelry and told everybody I was coming, and joined the Utrecht SnB mailing list and I really really want to stop being a commuter wife and get out of the suburbs and hang out in a different culture for awhile. But it turns out, I don’t want anything bad enough to sacrifice my kids’ education for it, or my commitment to public education. Huh. The things we learn about ourselves, eh?

If I write out the whole trip in one entry I’ll be typing for days, so we’ll leave the next installment for tomorrow. But so as not to leave you in suspense, I will mention two things we found out: The week before we went there was a vacation week (they call it “Crocus-vacation,” isn’t that cute?), so there was no school, and that’s why two of the gymnasia didn’t answer my emails. And every other expat family we talked to said they got the same response from the school that was rude and dismissive, so this was not actually indicative of the state of education in Utrecht. Just an indicator that we can cross that school off our list of potentials.


Song du jour of the day: Knowing Me, Knowing You, by Abba.

2 responses to “The Utrecht Trip. Exposition.

  • amy

    I feel the same way about private schools. Just not an option, really. And every time I think I just can’t homeschool anymore, I do, because I feel I owe my kids the best we can give them, and *right now* the local public school isn’t it. (Maybe later. Just not right now.)

    Crocus vacation is cute. Looking forward to the rest of the trip posts. Missed you. :-)

  • panic/inertia « alala

    […] after Christmas I wrote to some Utrecht schools about Ignatz, and their response (or lack thereof) sent us into a spiral of doubt about the wisdom […]

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