Having what feels like constant drama with our internet connection is cramping my one-post-a-week goal, which means I forget/don’t get to write about all the stuff we’ve been up to. Lame.
The biggest development for us is that we’ve finally moved out of the church and into the apartment. The apartment came with some furniture and appliances in it already, so we sleep in a fort we’ve made out of the sections of our couch. Not sure what else to call it. There’s some saying about how the best part of marriage is that you have a sleepover every night, but I didn’t think it would go so far as having our own fort every night!
Aside from the obvious kitchen/bathroom/hallway, we have two big rooms and we’re thinking we’ll use furniture to divide them into a study/living room and a bedroom/dining room. Right now the front room has our fort, a TV, and a pile of empty water bottles (because we don’t have glasses yet). The back room has an empty wardrobe and the result of 4 suitcase explosions. This weekend we can make it more home-y.
So far I really like living in Kralingen because it’s in a much quieter area than the church. Aside from the church renting out the hall for really noisy parties (I think one of the ones that went to 2 AM was for a 1-year-old’s birthday party…), the nightclubs across the street stay open until 5 AM. At that point, all the loud, drunk people spill out of the clubs into the courtyard and yell loud, drunk Dutch things.
Speaking of yelling loud (but maybe not drunk) Dutch things, today I completed Week 1 of my intensive Dutch classes, but I don’t think I know enough vocabulary yet to yell at anyone without looking cray-cray. “I AM CALLED ANDREA! WHAT ARE YOU CALLED? I COME FROM AMERICA AND I LIVE IN ROTTERDAM! I FIND DUTCH DIFFICULT BUT I LIKE TO SPEAK IT!”
Monday my first Dutch class sent me home in tears. Immersion-based language study is unlike anything I’ve ever done. Add to the mix the fact that I’m pretty Type A, I don’t like making mistakes or not knowing what’s going on, and a big chunk of my musical training involves trying not to play anything wrong in the first place. Imagine a straight-laced classical musician thrown into a improvisation setting in which they must make up new music amid chords they don’t understand and make stylistic decisions about an unfamiliar style while battling performance anxiety. Yeah.
However, if you know me well, you know that I have a history of experiencing what feels like crippling anxiety right before or on the onset of a new undertaking and once it’s out of my system, I’m golden. I studied for 6 hours on Monday, did a presentation from memory and wrote a page of dialogue summaries on Tuesday, had an unscripted conversation yesterday, and I’m making compound sentences and sending Dutch emails today. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve done here so far.
We have 9 people in our class and I’m the only American. I really enjoy talking to my classmates in both English and Dutch–we are a mix of educated, motivated professionals from all over the world. We have people from China, Egypt, Spain, France, Greece, and the Ukraine. I’m also pretty sure that I’m the only one who is coming in only knowing one language. But, since I speak English as my native language, I have an easier time figuring out the sentence structure, so I’m told. I now hope to continue until I’m fluent, which for some people takes just a few months with the right instruction.
American schools obviously don’t have time to incorporate the immersion method in foreign language classes, but now I’m wondering how foreign language classes could improve in getting students communicating more. My Dutch vocabulary is limited, but I feel more confident with it than I ever did in 5 years of Spanish. Except Monday I kept translating stuff to my crappy Spanish and then to Dutch, and then mixing up Dutch and Spanish words…I DON’T EVEN SPEAK ANY SPANISH ANYMORE. WTH.
We went to our first Dutch birthday party (the birthday person throws the party and everyone congratulates the friends and family…I don’t know either) and had our first trip to the beach. Church is really helping us meet people our age and that helps us feel less isolated. I joined the church choir, sub for Sunday school next week (come on, Dutch lessons!), and I have another choir audition next week, too. Ik vind zingen leuk (I like to sing).
Will started school and is working on some cool stuff.
When the internet doesn’t fail on us everywhere we stay, we think it would be cool to start daily “Today’s Adventure” posts because we see something new every day but the kind of weekly posts gloss over that.