NOTE: so I meant to publish this yesterday (sunday) so its a little bit late, but its written as if today was sunday
So I'm finally all moved in an settled. I have my own little room, and today we just hooked up my computer to the internet. I'm starting to unpack, but I'm not all the way done yet. So it is my third day here in the Netherlands and already I feel like I have seen quite a bit. The family and I have been talking a lot which is nice and we both get to learn lots from each other. Last night a girl that the family grew up with at their old house stayed the night because she was driving from France and was very tired. So this morning we all had breakfast in the garden, talking and eating. We spent almost the entire morning and some of the afternoon outside because later we had tea, coffee and cake outside. It is soo warm right now, and today there was even a little bit of humidity which is very unusual weather wise. After the guests left, all of us but Jelle went bike riding. Anne-Claire said what we did was about half of the distance to school!! So we biked and rode past this windmill!! (I got to see a few windmills driving home from the airport too so it wasn't my first) But since it was Sunday, the windmill was open to go inside! so that was really cool to be inside of a windmill because you got to see all the wooden structures that grind the wheat into flour. The windmill we were in is being worked on a little bit, but it still can make flour even though people are working on preserving it.
I feel like I have done so much already but I've only been here 3 days! But the first day we did not do too much because we had to drive home from the airport. Anne-Claire and Jelle do not like car rides because they feel very long to them since they are not used to driving everywhere, even though this car-ride was an hour and a half. But unfortunately it was rush hour too so all the cars were driving home from work so it took even longer. Then after we got home we ate pizza, but not pizza like we eat in the states... We made it ourselves and picked what we wanted on it but there was not alot of cheese on top like american pizza. They put ham and pineapple on my part, and then we had another pizza that had seafood on top with the ham and pineapple. It was very interesting, but it was really really good. After dinner we went over a couple of AFS things like how to lock the doors and safety things, but the neighborhood is very safe and they leave all of the doors open when it is nice enough out. So far everyday the doors have been open. Yesterday it was 25 Degrees Celsius which is about 77F. Friday I also gave Anne-Claire and Jelle their presents, and the family the United States book. Jelle was very happy with the comic book because it will help him to learn English better. Their english is very good, but we have trouble with a few words that the translation is a different word. But we always figure it out and I'm able to help them with the correct words. Anne-Claire liked her charm bracelet and nail things and she hasn't had the charm bracelet off since. It is a nice present because she wears a lot of gold anyways. Everyone loves the united states book which is so nice, and they have been to some of the places in the book too.
Saturday morning was not difficult waking up, but I ended up locking my self in the bathroom!! The shower room and the toilet are divided, so after I got out of the shower, I couldn't open the door! I learned fast not to lock that door... Everyone was standing around the door trying to help me open it and Jelle told me how haha.
I feel so lucky to have gotten this family. They're so happy to have me here, and they're very happy in general. I have an entire week before school starts which is good because I don't think I would do well in school otherwise. I can pick up a few words here and there, but that is it. There's a lot of three letter words that I don't understand what they mean or the differences between them.
After breakfast Saturday (which was bread with toppings. First you always put butter and then your topping. They have sprinkles and jam and nutella or peanut butter (which I don't eat) and we also have tea and juice. After that we went to Bergen op Zoom which is the bigger local town and where my school is. I got to see the outside of the school that I will be going to next year. Then we walked to the city market center where we met their grandparents (opa and oma) and an aunt and cousin. We had tea with the grandparents and one of their friends, but the aunt and cousin had to go because the cousin's birthday party was that afternoon.
Where we sat was beautiful. It was sunny and everyone was walking around there was a bell tower in the square. A really interesting music cart went by, and Anne-Claire and I went around to look at the front. It was basically a giant music player that played the old style of paper with holes in it. So he had all these paper books that had the holes in it for the music cart to play. The cart would play each page, and the page would just unfold and drag in a line behind the cart. We heard the cart all day long in different areas.
Hans's grandmother told us that the Markienzenhof (the bergen op zoom castle) was free to go to after 12. So my family and I went to the castle which is now a museum. A duke used to live there I believe. So there were some really cool things to look at in the museum even though I couldn't read the dutch. There was a diorama of Bergen op Zoom and lots of paintings and a really cool hologram thing. There were 3 dolls wearing old fancy clothing and you could press a button and a hologram would appear. So the three people would each take turns talking (in dutch) and one of the actors being the doll was Anne-Claire's cousin that we had met earlier that morning! That was really cool that she was part of the museum. But Anne-Claire was telling me that she plays a character in a sort of parade every year, and dresses up in older clothing and sings and there is a parade I think. I'm not really sure what it is or what it is celebrating but Anne-Claire thinks I could be a character in it too! So that would be really fun. But also in the museum was this fair area, or what they call Kermis. This had all these miniature dioramas of fair rides that moved like a Ferris Wheel or roller coasters or carousels. That is Andrea's favorite part to see she said.
After we left the museum we had to buy the cousin a birthday present because we were going to her party later in the afternoon. The castle is right near the center where we had tea, so it was a short walk to the shops. The shops were really cool to see, and the prices of clothing looks normal with the exchange rate.
Listening to people speak Dutch is kind of hard. They speak very fast, but I'm able to pick up a few words here and there so thats good for me to listen to. But most people will speak a little English to me, and the family translates a lot of things for me. So this happened at the birthday party, because all the families were speaking dutch, but most of them knew I was their new foreign exchange student. So I learned some things about culture at this birthday. For example, you have to say gefeliciteerd (this means congratulations) to everyone when you arrive at the party, and you have three kisses on the cheek switching sides every time, instead of the two that I'm used to from Puerto Rico. Anne-Claire says that she does that with her friends too, so it's not just a family thing. So then you sit down and you have to eat cake. They ask you if you want any, but you're supposed to say yes and eat it anyways at the beginning because that is polite. Also it is tradition for the Netherlands to buy cakes instead of making them yourself. But Andrea (host mom) usually makes the cakes in her house because that is a German tradition. I met a lot of people at the party but I didn't understand the things they would say to each other, but they were all very nice and luckily interested in talking to me. They all ask me where I live (and I'm glad I live near DC or otherwise they would have no idea where I live) and why I chose the Netherlands as my country, things like that.
Also, Birkenstocks are a hugeee fashion trend here. But not the ones with the straps that you would think of, they're very fashionable and apparently a huge fashion statement. At the birthday party everyone had them and there was a big pile of them by the front door. They are not only fashionable though, apparently they're really really comfy shoes so they're nice to wear and nice to look at.