Week 2 in the books. We’re still living in the church, but we are very close to finalizing the paperwork for an apartment in a neighborhood called Kralingen.
Rotterdam’s center, which is the same area as the church and Will’s school, is packed with rows of businesses and is getting increasingly more crowded and noisy as the locals return from holiday. But, a 5 minute metro ride from the center takes us to Kralingen, which in comparison is much quieter and calmer. Oh, and we’ll be really close to this lake:
The lake is about 3 miles around, so hopefully my on/off, love/hate relationship with running I’ve been in since student teaching will improve. I’m also itching to get into a place where we can have a sense of ownership. Right after we got back from our honeymoon we spent July moving out of his apartment, moving out of my apartment, moving our stuff to Houston, and packing to move here. Ready to stop feeling homeless.
Today we had an appointment with an expat specialist at one of the banks here, but Will threw up a couple times this morning so I went by myself. I just realized I probably gave you the impression that we spend a lot of time horking up our guts, which isn’t the case. I thought I had a problem with yogurt earlier, but now we’re pretty sure that something about Wok to Go makes us both violently ill. Good things to know before school and work start.
Anyway, since we don’t know very many people here yet and neither of us have gotten into a school or work routine, we’ve been running all of our errands together until today. I had a hummus bagel and mint tea (because when your husband has a mint allergy you have it whenever he’s not there), talked to the bank representative (unwieldy), ate gelato (mint), walked around Hema (pretty much the Target of Europe), decided that the food section of Hema smelled like Pup-eroni (probably the result of sausage displayed in a wicker basket), and went to Albert Heijn (pretty much the Kroger of the Netherlands).
When we were trying to decide whether or not we should move here, I talked about it with our friend Keith, who went to UofH with us and teaches in Taiwan now. He told me that if you have an opportunity to live abroad you should take it, but if you go by yourself it can get really lonely. Walking around Rotterdam alone, I discovered that there definitely is a difference between being surrounded by people speaking Dutch and being surrounded by people speaking Dutch with another person whose primary language is the same as yours. Even though it is very easy to communicate in English once people know that’s all you speak, to me it’s so so so much better being here with someone else than going at it alone.
Once our priorities are more than simply not being homeless or illegal, we want to take Dutch classes. I still get a little flustered when someone starts speaking to me in Dutch, even though they switch to English with what seems to be little effort. Since a lot of the Dutch pronunciations contain sounds that don’t really exist in the English language, it’s tough for me to even pick out the words within sentences I hear. I think this move will prove to be the most uncomfortable but empowering experience I’ve had to date.
I have a few job leads now, but I’m not sure how they’ll work out. Or, more likely, if I’m doing several part-time jobs, I’m not sure exactly how much time to dedicate to which job. Finish and monetize the Clarinet Tips website? Teach clarinet lessons? English lessons? Sub at the international schools? Teach in a music school? Rent out space and start my own English children’s music classes? I want to KNOW.
Conversation with the gelato man today:GM: Are you from Canada? Me: No, I’m from the U.S. GM: Oh, okay. Which country, L.A.? Me: Uhh…Texas? GM: Oh, you don’t have the accent!
I’m looking forward to setting up our kitchen and cooking (apparently the stovetop and oven in the church are “hazardous”) because constantly finding inexpensive, not-smoky, not-crowded restaurants can be time-consuming, even though there are places everywhere (freaking Dutch! lolololololol). I’m ready to get into a routine where we’re not spending so much time trying to feed ourselves. Dutch food is pretty good, though.
Two things I decided I like:
Carbonated iced tea. About the same amount of sugar as soda, so there’s one benefit of no free refills.
Only found in the Netherlands, the Groenteburger (vegetable burger) from McDonalds.
The other Dutch McDonalds sandwich has a croquette patty, which doesn’t seem as appetizing (Fried meat paste? Eh.) As someone who flirts with vegetarianism every once in a while, I always like trying different meat substitutes. I couldn’t find much information on this sandwich because when Google Chrome tries to translate Dutch from a vegetarian forum, you get weird results. Like how it translates “burger” into “citizen.” Anyway, I was expecting some kind of mashed-up patty of pureed vegetables/beans, but it actually had recognizable pieces of carrots, peppers, peas, and onions inside. Score!