It was December 2018. I was living in a 27 square meter studio apartment on the 12th floor in Amsterdam and I was ready for some change.

Even though I loved the city, I was craving a new adventure, which happens every so often. I had been working for BGB Dentistry (formerly DPA Dentistry) since 2015 and my job was to coordinate our language course in Seefeld in Tirol, Austria. In addition to that, I also focused on content development for said course. Our course takes place in a hotel called Hotel Wetterstein: a great location for our students to learn Dutch.

For me, this meant that I would bike to our office at Amsterdam Sloterdijk, where I’d coordinate the courses, which took place in Austria. Every few weeks I would visit the Austrian mountains, and then I’d head back to my cubical. Just joking, we don’t do cubicles at BGB.

Before the end of the year arrived, BGB Dentistry decided to lease the hotel, which meant we could focus completely on turning it into a course hotel and adapt it further to our students’ needs. Leony, the former Hotel Manager of Hotel Wetterstein, continued working there. She would focus on all hotel-related issues. In addition, they wanted someone on location to focus on all course-related issues. At least for the transition period.

And so it happened that before the year was over, I was cancelling my studio apartment and preparing to move temporarily to the beautiful town of Seefeld in Tirol, Austria. Who would have thought?!

Fast forward to late March. I rented a little van, my dad and I moved all my stuff (or what was left of it) into the back of the van, I said goodbye to my house and off we went: a quality time road trip to the mountains of Tirol!

I had lived in foreign countries before (Costa Rica and Brazil), but because Austria felt relatively close to Holland, it wasn’t as much of an emotional rollercoaster. I was excited to start this new chapter!

Once we crossed the Austrian border, all we saw were mountains and snow. And coming from a flat (really flat) country, we both jumped from excitement. My dad had never been to Austria before, and to me it was such a strange yet nice sensation that this was going to be my new home.

The first official day of the lease was April 1st. We had a new group of students starting that weekend, and all my colleagues came to Seefeld to celebrate the opening of our new BGB Academy. And celebrate we did: we hiked, danced, enjoyed the snow and the sun. It was a memorable weekend. Even though we’d held our course in the same hotel for many years prior, it still felt like a new beginning. With new motivation, new ideas and new energy to turn this hotel into a real course hotel. On Monday, the course started, my colleagues left, and Leony and I were ready to kick ass!

While I lived and worked with our students in the same hotel, I got the chance to meet so many inspiring dentists. We’ve had students from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, and all of them gave up their life back home to start this new adventure: to learn Dutch and start a new life and career in the Netherlands. Some have boyfriends or girlfriends at home, or kids; some had given up their own Dental clinic; some were in the process of graduating. Each one of them had their own story and their own reasons to move to another country. They came alone, not knowing what to expect, yet they found common ground in each other because they had a similar dream: to work as a dentist in Holland.

The focus of our dentists is on learning Dutch, in only 15 weeks. But this doesn’t mean that there is no time for enjoyment! The central location of Seefeld and the mountainous environment offer plenty of things to do and it would be a shame not to enjoy it. Of course, this tiny mountain town in the mountains is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people prefer big vibrant cities, but for me personally, it was a welcoming change. In the direct area of the hotel, there are plenty things to do in the summer or winter, and you’re accompanied by amazing mountain views. There is a lake with watersports; you can hike, bike, swim, ski, snowtube; I even went paragliding once! There are also several mountain summits that you can reach and you have plenty of trails to choose from, differing in length and difficulty, all starting right at your doorstep.

In addition to the direct area of Seefeld, I had the chance to visit many other places. Of course the neighboring Innsbruck, which is only a 30-minute train ride away, and the other towns in the Olympia Region, each with their own charm such as Scharnitz, where a beautiful turquoise river flows. But also, places like the Achensee, the Fernsteinsee, Munich, Castle Neuschwanstein in Germany, Venice & Lago di Como in Italy and many more.

Personally, I love traveling, and being relatively close to so many beautiful places, is an extra for me. The hotel also organizes excursions every group with our one and only tour guide Josie. In October, we visit Oktoberfest, but sometimes we also go to a city like Salzburg or to the Achensee, which is Josie’s second home.

Despite a whole world to discover around Seefeld, I spent most my time in the hotel during the week, which of course isn’t so strange if you think about the fact that I had to sleep, eat and work in the same building. We have a communal lounge where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served and there is also a living room where everyone comes together every now and then. Some of my favorite moments were watching the final season of Game of Thrones together, celebrating the Dutch Sinterklaas with poems and presents, a pub quiz about the Netherlands and we had some lovely welcoming weekends where we tried to do something different food-wise every time, like raclette or home-made sushi. The lounge also has an outdoor terrace with great views, so whenever the sun came out, we’d have our meals outside. There is even an occasional summer BBQ.

But, living, working, studying all together at the same place, can also be quite intense. There are lots of emotions involved, for everyone that’s a part of the BGB Academy. Emotions like homesickness, the pressure of learning Dutch in a small amount of time, anxiety about how it all will work out in the Netherlands, dealing with working together as colleagues and classmates, making new friends or accepting that sometimes you can’t be friends with everyone. At home, you’d maybe visit a friend to pour your heart out or you visit that bar that you always go to when you have a bad day. Here, you’re depending on each other and phone calls to the home front. It’s all part of the process! You have your own private room whenever you need me-time, but with 3 groups following the course at the same time, there is always someone to socialize with if you do feel like it.

There are many stories to share when it comes to living and working together in a course hotel. Maybe one day there will be a book! People found love at our hotel, or lost people close to them while being away. Friendships for life are forged, a whole new language is learned, new places are visited and new life skills are acquired. What sums it up, is that it’s an experience, one that you will not soon forget! It’s the start of something new. For me it was the start of a new life chapter in Austria, for our dentists it’s the first step on the way to their career in Holland. And achieving your dreams, always begins with that first step…

To many more memories to come!