Moving to Europe Part 2
Wadenoijen Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
Now that I have gotten a little more settled in to the Dutch way of life I want to explain what it is like living in the south east of the Netherlands in a tiny farming village.
I usually go for a run and/or a bike ride each day for at least an hour. Besides doing it for my health, biking helps me learn my way around by finding places that I have been before like the town soccer fields, the local McDonalds, or the bar in the next town over. Today I biked all the way into the city by myself with no directions! Its only 20 minutes, but it was still big for me because it’s one more step towards independence on my part. As much as Hans’ mom feeds me, I have too. The Dutch do not understand `no`, but she’s getting the hang of it. They don’t understand how we eat vs. how they do. Its very different. Let me explain.
You are expect to eat a certain amount. So I have devised a system for eating. If I like something, I take a lot the first time, make sure she sees and that’s usually good. If I don’t like it that much, I take two very small portions to make it seem like I ate more than I did. None of this stops her from offering me cookies and ice cream on a daily basis. Sounds pretty horrible huh? This process happens at least two time a day because if I am home, I am expected to eat lunch and dinner with the family at about the same time every day, plus show up for tea at 3pm. I can usually avoid desert after dinner, but if everyone is eating cookies at three, I always fall for them! It takes some really good luck getting away from drinking coffee at night! I still don’t get it... they drink tea in the morning and strong coffee at night. It kept me up most nights until I finally made my health a larger priority than my sense of good manners.
So besides the “struggle” between food and exercise and between my health and respectfulness, I help out how I can around here. Sometimes I go grocery shopping with Hans’ mom. Today, I had to drive Hans’ dad to the hospital because he has back problems and couldn’t drive himself there. Oh, did I mention I drove Henrys dad to the hospital IN A STICK SHIFT CAR! That’s right, I can officially drive a stick. I wasn’t allowed to drive back though, for fear I’d mess his back up again because I’m still very rough. Nonetheless, I can do it! Tomorrow I am responsible for tea and coffee at 3, which will no doubt be made more difficult than one can possibly imagine if Hans’ brother and dad try to help by giving me instructions in Dutch which will thereby confuse me. Then I have to make dinner at 5 because Hans’ mom will not be there! Its a big day for me.
The rest of my time, not that there’s much left because I wake up at noon for lunch every day, is spent learning Dutch ( which in Dutch “is heel moelijk”), looking for jobs, and talking to people online and on Skype. My goal is to learn SOMETHING new every day. And one big thing every week. Next week I want to learn to ride a horse, and maybe how to take care of them too. I’ll probably learn to “grow” apples sometime in the near future. I think that means I will learn how to properly pick them. I can already speak enough Dutch to get around on my own (by that I mean for shopping) and I learn more every day. I plan on joining a soccer league too. I need to make girlfriends! I never thought Id miss girls so much. I have a few, but only one who likes to party, and I highly doubt as hard as I do. She’s probably not as open as I am either. It’s not that I’m that perverse, but its not proper to talk about sex here at all, even to make dirty jokes! As an American I have a healthy appetite for talking about sex with others. I hate having to pretend to be sweeter and nicer than I am, but in time I will find more people who like me for who I am. I get along really well with everyone at Hans’ soccer club. There’s a bar practically on the soccer fields where the guys like to drink after games! This is amazing to me because drinking is only acceptable at commercial sporting events in the U.S. Its so much fun, but I am usually the only girl after 10pm. The rest can’t hang. So there I am making the dirty jokes, drinking beer and burping with the rest, but of course looking girly with knee boots and my hair done. This is quite amazing to most Dutchies because very few girls here drink beer.
If you cant tell yet, Dutch is having a bad effect on my English abilities. I reread my letter to try to weed it out, but sometimes I type in broken English! Or I will type sentences like the Dutch talk. Their sentences are backwards. For example here is how Dutch word order goes, taken right out of my language book because I can’t properly do it myself yet:
“I go not to school because I sick am.” Or “He thinks that he enough has done.”
Anyone familiar with Star Wars will notice that they kind of talk like Yoda. So even though I might be able to understand every word in sentence, I still don’t know what exactly they’re saying. Today when Hans’ mom asked if I could drive his dad, I knew all the words and still thought she was asking if I could do today what I have to tomorrow. I’ll get it eventually. Even watching TV helps. They have Discovery, Animal Planet, CNN, MTV, and Comedy Central, and all are subtitled in Dutch so I read the translations. Its helps me learn new words and sentence structures and entertains me. The translations are very funny because they never say exactly what is said on TV. They cant. Dutch and English just do not translate.
Sorry if this is getting kind of wordy and long. I had coffee in the morning for the first time today and have been wired ever since!