An online subscription is required to view the most recent issue of the Blount Countian
on this website. To purchase an online subscription, please use our online order form.

2017-03-15 / People

Babet enjoys being an exchange student

by Rachel Dean

Babet Ottens is not your typical high school senior. She is an exchange student from the Netherlands and attends Oneonta High School. Ottens is highly intelligent, very friendly, and a delight to be around.

Ottens is trilingual, speaking fluent Dutch, German, and English. The primary language of the Netherlands is Dutch, but Ottens says because her country is so small it’s important to learn many languages. She learned to speak German from her father and from school, and ironically, television helped develop her English skills.

When asked about the differences between education in the Netherlands and America, Ottens said there are many. In the Netherlands after taking a test in the eighth year, students are divided into five categories based on intelligence. Ottens was put in the most advanced level where she learned with other gifted children during the school day. What she likes about American schooling is the chance to have classes with underclassmen. A lot of her friends are juniors, and she says she wouldn’t know any other underclassmen at home because she has always been with the students from the same year.

Would she recommend being an exchange student to others? “Yes. In a heartbeat, yes. It’s not only a good opportunity for me, but for other students in the U.S. because they are exposed to a different culture and a place they might never visit,” she explained.

Ottens has had many highlights here in Alabama. She was elected to the Homecoming Court, participated in the Miss Tomahawk Pageant where she won Miss Photogenic, made the soccer team, has lots of great friends, and her personal favorite, Christmas. Ottens says Christmas in the Netherlands is just one day with a few presents, but here it is huge. She loves the lights, the presents, and the family and friends.

Ottens is the sixth exchange student to live with Gary and Cheryl Myrick in Cleveland. Their daughter, Mackenzie, is a senior at Oneonta High School too. Ottens is thankful to her loving second family and feels as though she has gained a sister in the process.

Ottens has decided she will return to the Netherlands to go to college. She had originally thought she might stay here, but her parents think it best for her to return home. She’s also very close to her parents and sister and wants to be near them.

Her future plans are to become a traveling nurse. She wants to help in places that don’t have good hospitals and hopes to work in Africa, specifically South Africa. Wherever Ottens ends up, she just wants to help people and make a difference. With her intelligence, language ability, and caring nature, she certainly will.

Return to top