How is it almost October already?  In Dutch, they like to say that the time flies like we do in America, or “de tijd vliegt.”  It looks a lot different in print but it sounds similar when you say it.

I’ve completed all of my intensive Dutch course, and while I’ll be glad to focus on a bigger variety of pursuits (like that clarinet thing I play…) I’ll miss the routine I got from going to class and studying every day.  In a couple weeks I go back to the same school to continue classes, but for one evening a week.  The intensive course gave me a foundation of conversation, sentence structure, spelling and grammar, and now I need to keep learning new vocabulary and practicing so that correct speaking and writing at the basic level become second nature.

I really enjoyed class and how much we were able to learn in a short time.  Our class was good in that we mostly all learned at the same pace and we got along well.  If I can’t convince any Dutch people to practice with me, our class may be able to plan some “geen Engels” (no English) reunions.

I also like how much focus the classes demanded of me each day.  I have a history of my mind triggering all kinds of unwanted adrenaline and jumping through mental hoops in order to sit still, but I didn’t have that problem in Dutch classes.  It’s like my mind is too occupied for anxiety or worry because too much of it needs to quickly figure out what word to use, how to pronounce it, and how to put it with other words. I hope that if I can always find ways to mentally stay active and moving forward, I will grow beyond having to struggle with worry over insignificant things.

Actually, every day here requires more focus and effort from us just from the relative unfamiliarity of our surroundings.  It’s maddening sometimes, like trying to integrate but constantly having to learn new systems with immigration, banking, phones, and even things like grocery shopping (There’s no baking soda to be found! And it’s not because I can’t figure out the Dutch term for it!  How is this possible???).  But, each step we have toward settling in feels significant.  Like how we set up a lot of the kitchen and I’m cooking dinner most nights now.  And the fact that I got a cheapy little phone with a prepaid plan so I can actually give my number to people and not have to pray that I don’t get lost or run late to meet anyone since I can’t call them.

I joined a choir and they sing music that is pretty challenging to me, plus the rehearsals are in Dutch. Really, even without the Dutch classes it isn’t too bad so far since I’ve just had to know the numbers to stay on top of rehearsals.  Announcements are difficult for me to understand, but the person next to me helps translate.

Last week I subbed for Sunday school and although our church is English-speaking and international, most of the kids can listen in English, but are mostly dependent on Dutch for speaking.  I started out with my normal bit of “Mijn naam is Andrea.  Ik kom uit Amerika, maar ik spreek een beetje Nederlands” (My name is Andrea.  I come from America, but I speak a little Dutch), which seemed to open the floodgates of really fast Dutch unto me.  Two weeks of classes was NOT enough, but fortunately I had someone in there to help translate for me.  I had written out a lot of explanations and questions in Dutch, but something about my pronunciation, rhythm and intonation made it difficult for me to be understood.

I liked the kids, though, and now I know what will be required of me if my goal is to be a possible candidate for ANY school, English or Dutch.  I’m starting to look more into Dutch music schools and I’m attempting (with proofreading from my teacher) to write emails in Dutch explaining my language situation while talking about my experience in teaching music.  We’ll see how that goes!

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