Friday, July 13, 2012

Reflecting, but this time on American Soil.

So I told myself I'd keep this blog going for as long as I want to, or as long as I need to. In case you didn't know, I'm home now. Safe and sound in the United States. I can't lie in my blog and say everything's going well, but it's going as well as it could be. Everything around me is going well, and my parents are more than thrilled to see me. The relationship between my parents and I is going great, better than it has ever been and I'm very happy about that. But I miss it. I miss the Netherlands so much. I cried for a while on Sunday morning, what would be the first full day of being in the States.

I keep busy. That's one of the few things that's helping. When I'm sitting alone or just doing nothing that's when my brain starts to wander... It feels like a dream. The longest and best dream I've ever had. I can't wait to go back, and being here and noticing little things is just making me want to go back even more.

Let me tell you some of the things I've noticed since I've been back. First of all door handles are much lower. I have no idea why I noticed this, but every time I reach for a door I don't understand why I haven't hit the doorknob yet... oh wait there it is. But why is it near my hip?! The other thing I noticed is how people react to politeness. A few times in the grocery store, I've wished people a nice day. And they look at me very quizzically, and say thank you. But I don't understand this yet. Why were they so confused? Are Americans lacking so strongly in politeness that they don't wish everyone a nice day, regardless of their job? I'm sure I'll figure this one out. But in the mean time I now know that I have become much more polite over the year. Which is never a bad thing.

I'm still just so glad to have been able to do this year abroad and grow so much into this person I've now become. I'm happier with myself than I've ever been, and I just wish more kids could just experience what I did. That is one of the reasons I want to become a volunteer for AFS. The volunteers for AFS Nederland were so helpful and so important and really just made the differences at the camps we attended. I want to give that same feeling to future AFSers who are coming to America, and maybe one day volunteer for AFS Nederland if I go back to live there.

I start work on Monday, babysitting for my little Dutch girls, so I can start speaking Dutch again with their parents! And the girls too I think. I'm really excited! And I'm going to get my old job as a Hostess back, and start training to be a server. I'm going to start a scrapbook for myself too, so that way I have something from this year to work on to keep me busy.

It feels like a dream... I can't believe that I was in the Netherlands for so long, and now I'm back... Everything looks the same, but I don't feel the same.

Friday, July 6, 2012


I had to look up the google translate for that word.... Onrustig in Dutch. And that's how I woke up this morning feeling... Today is my last day, its 10 am here, and I've got something that feels like it's going to be a long day today... I've done everything I needed to do before I left paperwork wise, said goodbye to almost all of my friends, went to the AFS end camp which was wonderful, but I'm still not prepared to go....

At camp we focused on three things, what we had learned, moving forward and saying goodbye. It was a very emotional weekend... I can't explain to you what it's like to be in a room filled with kids from all over the world, all hugging each other and saying goodbye. Some crying, others not. But everyone feeling the same exact thing. This is it. This is goodbye. But not farewell, oh no no. This is goodbye until the next time.

What a long day I feel this is going to be... My brother Brian is having a party tonight, and I'm not sure yet if I'll end up crying a lot or if I'll be happy... It's just so hard to leave. It might be hard to imagine that I've built a new life here, I have a wonderful family and a wonderful group of friends. And the hardest thing is, I've built a life that I like more than my other one.... and that's where I'm struggling. Everyone keeps saying oh but you get to see your old friends again, and your family. Yes, my parents will be there for me, but how many people have actually read this blog, or contacted me during the year... not as many as you'd think to be honest. I'll be fine next year though, after the culture shock goes away of course... because I've made friends here that I know will keep in touch with me, and people I know will be glad to see me when I come back on vacation. And I have a friend who was an exchange student in Norway and is going to help me a lot, because she just got home a week before I will. And she's going to be at the University in my town, so I'll have her to go to also. She's been a great help for me, as I have for her.

I think that when I go back I'll feel how much things haven't changed at home. Because I feel that I've changed a lot in this year, in ways I never thought I even would. There's been ups and downs, but through it all I've made it. This is the end of my year. And I've chosen to do something that many people never even dare to do. I think I Will keep blogging once I'm back in the states, because it makes me feel really good to write down everything I'm feeling. I've talked about how much I feel I have changed haven't I? The way that I look at things, or the way I talk to people... I feel I've changed so much. I couldn't believe it when I opened my letter up from the beginning of the year... the way I spoke to myself was mind boggling... I've gained a lot of self confidence in this year, and no one will ever be able to take what I've done away from me. And this, among other reasons is why it will be so hard to go home, because who even remembers what they were saying 11 months ago.

I'm going to miss the Netherlands. I hope I can come back here one day, and I'm going to keep speaking Dutch so I won't lose it. I'll miss biking to school... and biking with no hands, which took me a long time to learn. Or biking with someone sitting on the back of your bike, that I'll miss too... And of course I'll miss my family here, they've been such a big part in this year that you can't forget about someone like that. So this is it. I have to go finish the last few things I have to do today, and then well... just wait I suppose. And I have to keep telling myself:

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Reflecting...

Today two of my friends at school started crying. Yesterday I cried. A lot. With my brother hugging me and comforting me. But as much as I think I'll cry this month, it's going to happen. I'm going to leave. I can't stop thinking about it. I love it here, so much. Like I said in the last blog, five years and I'm back here. I know I'm not the same person anymore. I've changed drastically, in a way that no one can ever take away from me. I have seen countries and places I have never been too, nor ever thought I would go to. I have (as AFS said) experienced more up and downs in one year than I ever thought possible. I've learned how to evaluate myself as a person, and actually reflect on myself and my life, all while living as another nationality.

Part of the hard part of going home, they say, is accepting that everything may or may not have changed back home. I don't know how my old friends have changed, or even the area I live, but it's a different year that has happened in America. Prom, homecoming, learning to drive, playing sports, going to school, taking SAT's, seeing your biological parents every day, and probably getting annoyed with them because you're a teenager. All things I haven't done this year. All things that seem well... opposite of my life.

That scares me to be honest. The idea of normality. Especially just with the language alone. Am I ready to go back to speaking English all day long, and dreaming and thinking once again in English rather than dutch?

But there are positives. I have finally made the step that at some point every teenager makes with his/her parents. That step that you realize they aren't out to get you and not let you have fun and all the things I used to think last year. I think it might be the culture here, but I just can talk to my parents so easily now. No sneaky, evasive actions. I don't mind saying this because it's true, I've finally gotten over that feeling with my parents. I guess leaving them for a whole year changes the idea you have of them. But I'm excited to start my new relationship off with my parents. A whole new beginning for me in the states, and a whole new relationship to begin with my parents.

So I decided to make a list of things I'm looking forward to as I am home. Because right now it's hard getting myself motivated to want to go home.
Driving- After riding a bike all year, and watching my brother get his license I can't wait to get back behind the wheel of my car.
IHOP- I know that's a weird one, but I'm really looking forward to eating American pancakes again, because Dutch pancakes are like crepes.
Working- I actually really have missed working, and I will be happy to start again and begin making money again.
College Visits- I haven't had the chance to see any colleges really, so I'm looking forward to doing that with my parents or going to visit friends already in College.
School- I have actually really missed actual school. School is far too overwhelming in a foreign language, and I am definitely looking forward to being able to do homework without first having to translate it to make sure you know what it's actually asking.... (finally I don't have to do that anymore with work, but in the beginning... whoa. haha)
MY CLOSET!!!- I have actually been thinking about this for a while, and the first thing I want to do is clean out my closet. I went a whole year with out all of that stuff, so I can't wait to remember what is in there, and then sell clothes.
Getting my hair cut- I have only gotten my hair cut once this year... so it's definitely time for a hair cut...

I'm sure that as the days go on, I'll think of more things I'm looking forward to. like seeing my dog or just being able to sleep in my old bed again. But I leave you with more wise AFS wisdom from old exchange students I believe. Because this describes it better than I could. So, enjoy.

"A year has passed and now we stand on the brink, of returning to a world where we are surrounded by the paradox of everything and yet nothing being the same.
In a couple of weeks we will reluctantly give our hugs and, fighting the tears,we will say goodbye to people who were once just names on a sheet of paper to return to people that we hugged and fought tears to say goodbye to before we ever left.
We will leave our best friends to return to our best friends.
We will go back to the places we came from, and go back to the same things we did last summer and every summer before.
We will come into town on that same familiar road, and even though it has been months, it will seem like only yesterday.
As you walk into your old bedroom, every emotion will pass through you as you reflect on the way your life has changed and the person you have become.
You suddenly realize that the things that were most important to you a year ago don't seem to matter so much anymore, and the things you hold highest now, no one at home will completely understand.
Who will you call first?
What will you do your first weekend home with your friends?
Where are you going to work?
Who will be at the party Saturday night?
What has everyone been up to in the past few months?
Who from school will you keep in touch with?
How long before you actually start missing people barging in without calling or knocking?
Then you start to realize how much things have changed, and you realize the hardest part of being an exchange student is balancing the two completely different worlds you now live in, trying desperately to hold on to everything all the while trying to figure out what you have to leave behind.
We now know the meaning of true friendship.
We know who we have kept in touch with over the past year and who we hold dearest to our hearts.
We've left our worlds to deal with the real world.
We've had our hearts broken, we've fallen in love, we've helped our best friends overcome eating disorders, depression, stress, and death. We've lit candles at the grotto and we've stayed up all night on the phone just to talk to a friend in need.
There have been times when we've felt so helpless being hours away from home when we know our families or friends needed us the most, and there are times when we know we have made a difference.
Just weeks from now we will leave.
Just weeks from now we take down our pictures, and pack up our clothes.
No more going next door to do nothing for hours on end. We will leave our friends whose random e-mails and phone calls will bring us to laughter and tears this summer, and hopefully years to come.
We will take our memories and dreams and put them away for now, saving them for our return to this world.
Just weeks from now we will arrive.
Just weeks from now we will unpack our bags and have dinner with our families. We will drive over to our best friend's house and do nothing for hours on end.
We will return to the same friends whose random emails and phone calls have brought us to laughter and tears over the year.
We will unpack old dreams and memories that have been put away for the past year.
In just weeks we will dig deep inside to find the strength and conviction to adjust to change and still keep each other close.
And somehow, in some way, we will find our place between these two worlds.
In just weeks.
Are you ready?"

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reflections I suppose are in order

So my year is almost done. I'm four days away from my one month mark, and then I'll be flying back to my other home... It's a weird feeling I must say. You start a life for yourself, and then all of the sudden you are forced to leave...

My english vocabulary and grammar has severely diminished, and I'll tell you how I know that. My friend Kathyrn is visiting right now. She is an exchange student with AFS ( hence how I met her) but she is in Norway. She came for the weekend to visit. And talking to each other is just the funniest thing. We catch each other's mistakes, because sometimes they are just so bad. In Dutch the sentence structure is completely opposite of English, so it just doesn't make any sense when your brain thinks in Dutch. Forgetting words is always funny too. If someone else was to say it you'd understand, but you can only think of the word in your foreign language... haha

But I'm leaving. and thats hard to come to terms with. Its the same feeling as before I left. I don't believe that I'm actually going to have to get all of this STUFF out of what has become my house, and leave an empty room behind, and a family that I've grown to love very deeply. I want to come back. Five years. I'm back, that's what I want now. I love the people, the culture and the ways of life here. I will miss my bike ride to and from school, riding on the back of boys bikes, or now having girls also on the back of mine. Going out on the weekends. People complementing you on your Dutch after they find out you're not in University, you're just a foreigner learning the language and culture. Repeating the same story to answer a question a million times and knowing how to say it perfectly, grammar and everything. That feeling of, the look on someone's face after hearing you've learned Dutch, one of the most difficult languages in the world to master, after only ten months. Which for some strange reason the internet seems to think it's not a difficult language at all, but that's just not true at all. It is not even close to English grammar wise or spelling wise. Maybe since there are no added letters it's not considered difficult but I beg to differ. But anyways I did it. I gave a project for 40 minutes or so, with two other girls from my class last thursday. Completely in Dutch. The teacher said it was good, and so did all of the kids in class, even though I was so nervous. But they understood my dutch, no problem at all. Learn Dutch, goal completed.

But now I'm going to have to go through reverse culture shock... that sounds like a picnic, because culture shock is not as fun as it's made out to be. I read a blog recently called Can you Survive Reverse Culture Shock? And now I am going to tell you about this blog and what it said in reverse form, by asking you: Will you Help me Survive Reverse Culture Shock?!

1. Will you care about my travels?
Until you ask me, I will keep my travels and life changing experiences to my self. Because I will be surprised to see that many people will not show the slightest interest in what I have just done, or don't want to hear about it.

2. How will you stop normality from hitting hard?
Apparently after I've done all of the things I've missed, and gone to all of the places I wanted to eat in America, I will be upset at how normal life seems to be. I might be bored, and uninterested in every day life. And more importantly, I will feel how tedious it will be to hear every day conversations in English again. Because hearing people discuss the weather or things is much more interesting in a foreign language.

3. Will you understand me?
Apparently it is very common for people like me to come back with new open-mindedness, interest in other cultures and new opinions. Maybe you will fail to share my interests and that might leave you feeling confused or maybe just not care at all.

4. Will you be jealous?
This one is self explanatory, although I will try not to talk about this year abroad constantly, it could very well happen and that could lead to some jealousy issues.

5. How will you help me not feel stuck in my life?
The biggest problem is apparently that one can feel stuck, especially in Locust Grove, and can make one feel very isolated and alone.

So, will you help me survive reverse culture shock?

I wrote that mostly as a joke, because I found the article just so interesting. It's not me trying to brag or anything like that, but that's how the author wrote the article, I just wrote it in a different way but the same information. I don't know how I will feel when I go home. I know I will be very very busy, college applications, trying to make money as well... haha So I guess we will find out. Nothing to do but wait.... I am really sad to leave though... it's slowly starting to hit me that I do have to leave soon... very soon. And I don't like the thought of that. :(

Food, food, food!

This blog has existed for far too long. I've had this blog saved in my drafts for a very long time with only the first paragraph... So It's probably about time I finish it. I don't know if I've really talked that much about food here, but I've been thinking about food a lot lately and what I really like about Dutch food, and the few little food items that I miss back home.

So first the yummy things. Desserts and pastries. There are pannenkoeken, which are thin pancakes with a thicker, and richer dark Dutch syrup. They usually use this and powdered sugar on it, and it's very good. But you can really put anything you want on it... Like Nutella or jam. Then there are Appelflappen, which are basically an apple pie in a puff pastry with sugar on top. Its a triangle shape but it's good cold or warm. Oliebollen is a new thing I have only had once, and its a fried sort of bread thing with or without raisins that you put powdered sugar on. It's only around until New Years though, so we eat it during the holidays. Then there are stroopwafels, which is basically the best thing in the entire world. It's two waffle like things with some syrup inside, but they're thin and they're just the best thing ever. I think for all of the exchange students they are more addicting than for Dutch people. Because if you give exchange students a package of stroopwafels it will be gone in like ten minutes. Vla is a type of pudding, that I think is a bit thinner than our pudding, but it is a lot better tasting than ours is. You can put hagelslag on this, which is the chocolate sprinkles that I think I've talked about...( you put this on bread, and it tastes exactly like chocolate but in sprinkles form. You have many types of flavors of this, and also in a few shapes)

What else... there's the fried food. Frikandel, Kroket, and kaas-souffle. Also bitterballen! those are really good too. Frikandel is kind of a sausage sort thing. There's a joke that no one knows what its made of, so they say its made of horse. haha. A Kroket is like a croquet, but its also sort of a thick sausage shape, about 4 inches long, with different soft fillings in side. And a kaas-souffle is a cheese souffle. bitterballen are like, mini krokets i guess you could say.

Potatoes. The Dutch love their potatoes. Fried, boiled or steamed, we eat potatoes almost every meal, unless we're eating pasta. Typical Dutch food is a portion of potatoes, some sort of meat, and another vegetable. Usually the other vegetable and the potatoes are mashed together to make sort of a potato bowl, which my Dad and brother put gravy inside.

Vegetables. A typical Dutch meal consists of potatoes, another vegetable and meat. These vegetables are often combined with the potatoes, making a sort of... mush I guess you could say? And that's pretty much typical Dutch food. Sometimes you can mash the vegetables and things, and that is a specific type of meal. The dutch also eat a lot of foreign food, like Italian, and Greek for example.

Okay I really don't think I am going to write anymore about this, because that's basically it in a nut shell. the moral of the story is that dutch have very good sweet food, and their dinner time meals are kind of blah, but my host mom makes them soo tasty. She is a very good cook.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Parents Visit

So I haven't done this yet, but I figure this is most worthy of a blog post. Two weeks ago, my parents were here!! They stayed with us at home while we had a week of vacation. We traveled a lot around the Netherlands, to lots of little towns. My dutch parents said that they have seen more of the Netherlands in one week then they have in their whole lives! But sometimes that is very true of your own country, you are more
likely to go other places than to explore your own country. The first picture is my american dad, (me) and my Dutch Mom, dad and little brother. We did a few typical touristy things like De Keukenhof, which is a huge garden, the Cheesemarket in Alkmaar, and Kinderdijk, which is a whole lot of windmills all together. 19 of them, which used to be 20. Then as for the towns, we saw Middleberg, Domburg, Willemstad, Zierikzee,
Delft, Antwerp, Brussels, and of course Steenbergen, and Bergen Op Zoom, the city where my school is. The top picture is in Kinderdijk, the place with the windmills, and this one is us in the Keukenhof, the flower garden. They also happened to be here for a Dutch Holiday, called Queen's Day, which is kind of like one big party. It's the only time of the year (excluding the European Championships with Soccer) that the dutch people are nationalistic. So you see everyone dressed in Orange partying. We went to Amsterdam and walked around there, and it looked so cool to see all the people partying on their boats. We stayed over night there and then walked around Amsterdam as it was less crowded, and saw the Rijksmuseum and those sort of things. So that about sums it up. It was really nice to see my
parents after so long, and it was also really nice to see both of my sets of parents interact with each other in person for the first time. I'm sure we will all keep in contact :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Blogger

So, I didn't actually plan on writing a post today, but it just kind of has happened now. Blogger has a 'new look' even though my blog looks the same though. It's the dashboard that is different. But, on said dashboard, you can see all the people who have looked at your blog, among other less interesting things. HOW COOL! Let me tell you my stats, because I am honestly surprised.
Page views in all time History: 2,469
Page Views by country:
United States: 1,293
Netherlands: 791(i'm sure some of these have to be from me, but I just took off the setting that tracks my views too, so we shall see)
Russia: 47
Australia: 42
Germany: 41
Mexico: 39
United Kingdom: 25
Brazil: 13
France: 13
: 11

I can't say that this does not surprise me! I am very surprised at this. I had no idea how many people were looking at my blog in the states!! Haha. But also that people all over the world are looking at my blog! I think that is partly because my blog is on the AFS Netherlands page, under the blogs among all the other students, and mine just happens to be the first one on the that could very well explain it. But hiii! to all of you out there reading my blog!! I'm glad you're choosing to read my blog! That makes me very happy! haha. And hi to Isabel if you're reading this because I've been emailing you recently :P
Okay, that's it for this post. MY PARENTS ARE COMING FRIDAY!!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Schoolreis 2012

So I just recently got back from a school trip to Berlin, Dresden and Prague. In our school, we everybody in all of the levels has a chance to go on one of these school trips. They're supposed to be "learning trips" that are tied in with school subjects. Ours was mostly tied in with History and German, and even then, not much German was spoken by the students. This is our whole group in Prague on the last full day. I only
knew one person going into the trip, but I ended up staying in rooms with a group of really nice girls. So it was a bus trip, and the first night we spent in the bus... being woken up every two hours saying we were stopping and taking a break... But then we arrived in Berlin the next morning and went to the Hostel, ate breakfast and went back outside. It was a really cold day, but we were scheduled to go on a bike tour through Berlin. I think this
was a nice way to see the whole city since it's so huge. Luckily our tour guide spoke Dutch, so the tour wasn't completely in German like some of the other tours were throughout the week. This is a picture of the Memorial to the Berlin Wall, the kids are looking through the cracks in the wall, because that's all the people back then could see too. We would stop every now and then on the tour, and our guide would give us history and it was a really interesting tour. Even though it was really really cold haha. We got to see all the big monuments in Berlin and the buildings are really nice there. As a whole though, I found Berlin to be a dirty city. There is graffiti everywhere and there are still bullet holes in buildings. Some with many bullet holes. We also got to see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which is a huge area
with all these different sizes of concrete slabs on a sloping field. So it goes in no specific pattern or anything, the blocks are just sloping around the field, some points are deeper than others. If you look really closely you can see people standing in one of the lower points. After the bike tour we went on a boat tour through the Centrum. It was only an hour long. But I have to say, not that many people stayed awake during it! Haha. We were all so tired from the night before in the bus, because it's really hard to sleep when they wake you up every two hours... Then we finally got to go to our rooms and change after a long day. It was nice to finally get to talk to the girls too. They were all really nice, and REALLY REALLY surprised when they found out I was American. They noticed my accent a little bit, but I don't know if they would have figured it out by themselves.
But they made the trip really fun. Then we all left for dinner, and later that night we went bowling all together, in East Berlin. It was upstairs which I found really funny, on the tenth floor of a building, the top floor! haha. But it was really fun with all of the girls and everybody. This is the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), which is probably the most famous land mark of Berlin and Germany.
Now all of the Embassies and government things are on the side you're looking at in the photo. Now these are little memorials, or Holocaust plaques. (Stolpersteine in German) You can't read them in the photo, but on the plaque they say the victim's name, the date he or she was taken away, and the date and place they were murdered, it does in fact say murdered, not 'killed'. They sit outside of the victims homes, so
you see them sometimes when you're walking. Not all of the plaques say they were murdered in Auschwitz, these ones say Riga and Lodz. But one that I took a picture of was a couple murdered in Auschwitz. You can google it if you want to, there's a really nice New York times article about it. So then the next day, after a nice night's sleep, we went on a U en S bahn tour. which was supposed to be us visiting different places on
the tracks and figuring things out, but we just went around walking and shopping which lots of other people did too haha. Then after that we got back in the bus and headed towards Dresden. To see a VW factory! Here is the factory! It's a special factory though, where the clients choose everything they want customized. So its piece per piece production, rather than mass production. The bodies of the cars are sent here, then the people
working on the cars install all the cables (over 3 km or something(maybe 5) like that in one car!!) and then the robots with the engines and everything too. It was really cool to see, I didn't think it would be that interesting honestly, but I thought it was really awesome haha. Then the next day we walked around on another sort, scavenger hunt, in Dresden. It was a nice sunny day this time, and we had yet another paper of questions
to fill out. The strategy we had the first time was to sit down and drink something warm, and ask the people who worked there questions. I'm sure the girls were glad to have me for my English then! haha One of the things we had to do was count the horses on this wall mosaic here. So some of the things we had to do ourselves, but some of the things we were supposed to ask people. And then we still had lots of time for
shopping! haha. Then after that we went to a sort of concentration camp. I say sort of because it was more used as a holding pen for before they were sent off to Auschwitz. It was an old fort and barracks from a war before the world wars, but then the Germans occupied it during the war.
After the tour of the camp, with a lady who spoke not understandable German (none of the kids understood it) we left for Prague. If you listen to German very very closely, it sort of sounds the same as Dutch. Some of the words are the same, so if you pay attention you learn a lot. But please don't ask me to speak German, that's not gonna happen haha. So then we were at our last full day in Prague. It was raining the most of the day, but luckily we had had better
weather the whole week than they said we were going to. I found Prague to be a really nice city, much cleaner than Berlin. We did a whole lot of walking here in the rain, but it was a nice relaxed last day. The teachers on the school trip are much more relaxed then ours. We were basically allowed to wander around these three huge cities all by ourselves, armed with a supplied map of where we needed to end up at the end of the
time. So that's alot different than well, the China trip I went on with school haha. This is the group of girls I was with for the week. So yeah, that was the trip in a nutshell! haha. Was interesting to see how a school trip was like in another land, don't think I'll have a chance to do that in my life ever again haha!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Learning English from a Dutch book?

So recently I finished reading a book called Voertaal: English. Then it also says on the cover. The sticky world of Dunglish and how to avoid it. It's a book written by an American who came to the Netherlands (his parents were dutch), thinking that all dutch people speak perfect English, which he goes on to say is not the case. They do speak pretty good English, but his goal is to help them speak even better English, by explaining some cultural meanings of phrases and things like that. But it's a collection of columns he wrote about English, for in a newspaper for Dutch people. This is the second of his books about English for Dutch people, and this one is geared towards Dutch professionals in a globalizing world. I really actually liked this book, I learned a few things about Dutch, but actually also some things about English! So I'm writing them down in my blog because if I write it down on a piece of paper it will clearly get lost. So I'm writing my favorite parts from the books (in mostly my own words) here on my blog. That's allowed, right? haha

I don't know if anyone has ever heard of Britain's wonderful invention of Cockney Rhyming slang, but I had truly never heard of it. Here are some sentences with Cockney English.
"Be careful on the apples and pears" and "She brought us some lovely April showers"
So in the first sentence you are expected to guess that apples and pears rhymes with stairs, therefore meaning be careful on the stairs. The second one is a bit more difficult, because you are then expected to know, April Showers bring may flowers, so this sentence is saying she brought a lovely bouquet of flowers. Now you try. What about, "How's the plates and dishes?" got it? Dishes= missus, so how's the wife? There are a few others listed in the book, but I think you get the point.

This one is about words, that we actually use incorrectly! Flammable is actually the correct term for things that can catch fire. Because inflammable actually means something can not catch fire. Another one is irregardless, which is not actually a proper word at all, because it has two negative parts, the prefix and the suffix, so the correct word is actually regardless. Then another article is kind of the same thing, but with malapropisms. Such as, to mess up 'for all intents and purposes'. People tend to say, 'for all intents of purposes' or 'for all intensive purposes'. I know I've done that before! Here are some more:
Something is patently obvious, not blatantly obvious
you touch base with someone, not basis or bases
problems are deep-seated not deep-seeded. (anyone know that one?!)
something strikes a chord not accord (knew that one haha)
if your assistant is required to be ready and waiting to be of service at all times, he or she is at your beck and call not beckoned all
Then this one I think you know, a business tycoon not typhoon.

Now this one made me really think. This one is about phrases that have been corrupted through time. He gives the corrupted phrase, and then also gives where it originated from. Here are some examples he gives. Spitting Image, that was the title of a TV program in Britain, which everyone knows means 'perfect likeness'. This phrase is a corruption, it originates in the 15th century, as spit and image. He goes on to say that hundreds of years ago if a boy looked just like his father, people would say he was 'the spit and image' of his father. Another good one is 'for all intensive purposes', the thing you are trying to say is 'for all intents and purposes'. He goes on to give others, but the other ones are very obvious I believe.

Well, I don't think there's any thing else I found funny in this book because the rest is basically grammar for Dutch people and things like I said in the beginning. I'm really bad at finishing blogs, and this one has been sitting here for a few weeks. But I'm finally done with it! But now I have to start on my Germany trip blog! Which I don't really feel like... :/ Bye!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Today is my brother's, Brian, Birthday. He turned 18 today and is now finally an adult. He got a brand new car for his birthday, A BMW none the less, and he is very happy about it. BUT, here's the kicker, HE CAN'T DRIVE IT YET. hahahaha. My Dutch mom and I have been making jokes all week about how when he gets his car, he will only sit and play in it, because he can't drive it. His driving exam is this week Thursday, and I'm not sure how much time after that he may drive it, but soon I imagine. It is a very nice car I must say. Nice looking car. So today all the family and friends came over and we had a very typical dutch birthday party.

Now, I know I have written a bunch of posts about Dutch birthday parties, but I think I really like the traditional Dutch birthday party. I read a book called the UnDutchables, and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before... But one of the things they talked about, is how long the parties go on for. And I must say, they really really do. The author made a joke that you are lucky if you get to leave before 12 pm. Luckily, this party started early afternoon, so most were gone after dinner. The last left about 9 o clock this evening. But dutch birthdays can be described with one word, Gezellig. And unfortunately for us english speakers, there is no such word to describe things. Although this word has translations, cozy, sociable, it's a word that we can't use the way the dutch do. Gezellig means... well it's like having a nice evening with friends. Its social, and enjoyable and everyone has a very nice time. That is gezellig. You say this word when you had a nice time with someone and you're leaving, you say it was 'Gezellig'. And dutch birthdays are just that, combined with being far too long.

Basically, everyone comes over for coffee and cake, which is always a sort of cream cake... I'm not really sure what we'd call it because what they call it literally translates into cream cake. haha. But it's a very nice tasting type of cakes. You usually buy a few, and get leftover cake always. So today, people came early, and just came at various times throughout the day. We had to keep moving furniture around to fit more chairs, but that's just what it comes down to. Everybody sitting together in a huge well, circle short formation just talking and drinking coffee or whatever. And it's kind of a nice tradition I think. You see all of your family and family friends in one time. It's kind of what we did for my birthday but on a much smaller scale and with much less food left over haha.

In other random news I lost my voice yesterday at dinner, and I'm not really sure why haha. And I signed up to give tutoring sessions, so now I have a girl in Havo 4, that I tutor in english once a week during one of my free periods which works out just perfectly. So yeah. I believe that is all of my news for now!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Observing Americans....

Okay so I must write about this before I forget it all. Last saturday( I wrote this as it was yesterday) we were out to dinner in Bergen Op Zoom, and near us was this table of Americans. So basically. well... you hear they are Americans. And they most certainly protected our lovely stereotype of being EXTREMELY LOUD. But so I spent almost the entire dinner trying to get up the courage to go talk to them.. which I eventually did. But in between this time, we were just kind of watching them... And now that I've learned how to eat in the proper dutch way with my fork in my left and knife in my right, I got to watch other Americans, and see if they eat the stereotypical way with fork in right, and that is all. AND GUESS WHAT! THEY DID!!! I was like, HENK, EVERYONE LOOK THEY'RE EATING WITH ONE HAND. So everyone looked and of course noticed that they were eating just with the fork, and not holding the knife! I find this entire encounter extremely hilarious, because you don't see that many Americans where we live, because it's not a huge city. But there's a GE in Bergen Op Zoom, and I want to say it's the largest General Electric in... Europe? I believe that is what Henk told me.

But so after I finally decided to go talk to them, well, this is how our conversation went. I asked where they were from, because you don't see a lot of Americans in this part of the Netherlands, and one of the ladies goes... you're also american! I think she was a bit drunk, because she was the loudest of all of them. But so turns out they were from Michigan, and the other couple at one point lived in Arlington! But we didn't get to the topic of work, or what they were doing here. But the couple from Michigan had just moved to the Netherlands, about the same time as I did, so roughly 6 months ago. The other couple has been living here for five years now! And that lady asked me how my dutch was going and I started talking to her, and she was very very impressed with my dutch and so was the other couple who have been here for the same amount of time as me. But the lady who has been here longer, I could really hear her accent when she spoke dutch. So I must brag and say that I think I have a better accent haha. But yeah they started asking oh, like where do you go to school, whats a typical school day for you like, what you're doing when you go home, and it was just really cool to talk to them and see what they think about the Netherlands compared to the US. The new couple was telling me how difficult it is to do anything! They were trying to buy shaving cream the other day and ended up buying deodorant. Which is really funny because over here, they have spray deodorant, in cans that look just like the shaving cream cans. So they must have figured oh yeah okay, this is shaving cream, and then went home... used it... got deodorant all over his face hahaha. It happens, but still funny.

I really enjoyed talking to the lady who has been here for five years. She agrees that the language is really beautiful and nicer sounding than german haha. But she loves it here just as much as I do I think. There's something different about the dutch people, more direct, but also much more relaxed. But it was just nice to hear like, that they moved from the States, and still love the Netherlands after five years. I don't know, I just really enjoyed talking to them and comparing view points with other Americans. haha

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Okay. English again, let's go. haha. I must say I find it increasingly more difficult to start out writing a blog post in english. But I must do it, even though I keep putting this off for longer and longer... So AUSTRIA! In Dutch it is Oosterijk, so that explains the title of this post. Well, not last week, but two weeks ago we were in Austria. We were in Nauders, which is what you see in this picture. It's a pretty small town very close to the ski...
oh my god what is this word in english... SLOPES. right. duhh. And we were a short bus ride away from this other set of slopes that was in Italy. So these are the mountains... I always heard how beautiful and amazing the mountains where over here, but honestly photos do not do justice to it at all. They're gorgeous. absolutely and completely gorgeous. I spent so much time just starring at them. And in the sun, oh goodness even more beautiful. Luckily the weather was very nice while we were there.
It was warm and sunny most days, and I mean, with all the ski clothes on it's almost hot! But my family was with another family, really good friends that we spent new years with, and other occasions. Brian's girlfriend also came with us. So it was really strange having to listen to German while I was there. But I am oh so glad that I did not end up in Germany. It's really an ugly language! It's really really disgusting how it sounds haha. I think Dutch is much more nicer to listen to than German. German sounds really harsh, and like they're angry all the time haha. But their food is still delicious! The food you eat up on the slopes is almost the same as what you can get below in the city. Cordon-Bleu, Kaiserschmarrn, Wiener schnitzel, spaghetti bolognese are very typical dishes that we ate lots of. So for those of you who (like me) had only heard of
Wiener schnitzel, it is very good. It's a sort of very thin meat with bread crumbs, but oh it's so good. And Kaiserschmarrn is even better! This is a sort of pancakes, cut up into pieces with powder sugar, and you can also eat it with applesauce. But I ate this almost every day it's sooo good. It's a funny name for something to eat though. Because Kaiser means Emperor in German, and Schmarrn means well, something along the lines of "Mismash".
So yeah, Emperor's mismash is what I ate in Austria. haha. But the above picture is all the ladies, minus the other family's younger child, when we went on a walk one day. If you have forgotten what I look like I'm the one in the purple, Brian's girlfriend is the one in the blue, Joke is my host mom in the Green, and she's next to Ingeborg, and then in the middle is her older daughter. And this is a picture of us skiing in Italy one day.
The bus ride is really only 15 minutes or so away. This is me and the younger daughter of Ingeborg, on the way to go ski in Italy. But so now I can also say I've been to Switzerland, because on the way home to the Netherlands we had to drive through Switzerland! Let's see... Well I must say that I find the mountains much, much steeper here than in America, but I hope to bring my parents back here one day to ski! This was also during Carnival, which is only celebrated in the south, but I'm planning to come back next year to celebrate that! Well, only if our February break is at the same time as it... but now I'm starting to lose focus in this blog which means I have nothing else left to say! So, until the next blog! Which will be soon I think...

Friday, February 17, 2012


Hi here is a short little quickie blog, I'M GOING SKIING TOMORROW/ slash tonight... We are going skiing in Austria. In Nauders which is a three country point... Don't know if that's how we say that in english anymore... But its near Italy but also Switzerland! We are going by car with another family and we are leaving at 2am tonight... So I am going to bed now! Other than that, its finally gotten a bit warmer out of the freezing cold below zero (Celsius) we had for a while there, so that's nice! But its gonna be colddd in Austria. So yes I will take lots of pictures and make a blog about this when I get home!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

News news news!

I PASSED MY DUTCH TEST EVERYBODY! With a "very good" I got 67 out of 81 questions. 30/40 for the reading, and 37/41 for the listening. okay this is impossible to write right now. As I'm writing this I'm thinking in dutch and typing dutch words.. I have NO IDEA why that is happening but I guess that's immersion for you right? Right so, passed the dutch test. Awesome. Here's a picture of the exchange students and where we took the test. Okay what else. Well that's the big news. In two weeks we go skiing in Austria and I'm so excited!! today we went skiing inside as practice, and it was really fun! the snow was really strange because its fake snow and kind of powdery but it's really cool. Ah I'm so frustrated with my english right now, sorry! haha I know I can write better than this! Oh well...
I don't think I have more news than that I passed my dutch test! This is officially the worst blog post in the entire world! haha But everything's awesome here! I'm really happy. I've done some work for senior exhibit and now I have to do more!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Geen Zin

That doesn't translate well on google translate for all of you, but it means "I don't want to" basically... More like, no motivation... The reason that is the title of my post is because right now I'm freezing cold because I just had to bike home in the rain. So just a tiny little update. MY DUTCH TEST IS SATURDAYYYY!!! It's a listening and reading test and I think it's gonna be okay... At least I hope so. So far I've been studying like every day and speaking all dutch so I guess that's okay... Too bad it's not a speaking test, that might be easier. Rightt? But other than that it's just normal things going on right now. Going to school, biking, going out on the weekends, in three weeks or so we have vacation againnn! And this time we're going skiinggg! On the 5th we are going "practice skiing" with the family we are going with, so that should be really fun. And nice to see how long its been since I've skied... (PARENTS: I CANT REMEMBER HOW LONG ITS BEEN).
What else... well now I'm learning to dance! Kind of.. haha. Every Saturday they have this thing called soiree in the city, which.. oh wait that's an english word too isn't it? Well it's a dancing thing. Because lots of kids in Steenbergen take dancing lessons, and soiree is like a time to practice them, but without the instruction and with music. So they play all kinds of songs and if you know how to do the dance that goes to whatever beat it is then you can dance! They also have like modern music playing, not just like.. old waltz music or what you normally think of. They have both, so that's kind of nice. So I've been going there, and I'm kind of being taught a little bit... but obviously it's not really a quick thing to learn, but it's still always fun to go to.
Tomorrow we have a really short day at school because there is a teacher protest sort of thing so a lot of teachers aren't coming to school tomorrow and a lot of kids don't have school tomorrow.. so yeah! haha
I don't know what else I've been doing lately.. just going to school and stuff like I said. So yeah. Wish me luck with my dutch test!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas in the Netherlands!

So. This was my very first Christmas not with my parents. As much as I hate to say it, for their sake (sorry guys) I was not unbearably depressed over the holidays. Although being in another family brings other traditions for Christmas, not being with your family for Christmas isn't a bad thing. In fact, it just makes you appreciate all those other Christmases you spent with your family and the traditions you have. Or the really weird traditions you miss like "Asalto". So no, I was not really sad over Christmas because I'm a part of this family now. My mom here said to me a few weeks ago, that I've become really important to both her and Henk, and especially for her she said, in this such short time. So even though I wasn't with my family in America, I was with my new family. And that was special in its own way.
So I guess it's kind of like when you go to your first Christmas with the In-laws. The traditions may be different, but that family has welcomed you into their family too. So now, on a less serious note and more just story telling time. This is us on Christmas morning. Brian is the one making the crazy face, the girl with him is his girlfriend Annabelle, and that's Jeffrey in the middle and me. Christmas morning we had breakfast and opened presents in the early afternoon.
Henk's (my dad) mother also came over, and we watched a christmas movie with her, while Brian went to Annabelle's family for Christmas again. Their tradition, which is apparently a common tradition in the Netherlands, is to go out for Christmas dinner. So this is all of us at Napoli, which is an Italian restaurant that they like to go out to for special occasions. They are very close to the owner of the restaurant also,
and know everybody who works there by name, and they know our names too. This is Joke and me. My dutch mom. J's in dutch are pronounced differently than in English, so her name is not "joke" like haha that's a funny joke. Think of how you pronounce yolk. Like an egg yolk. So Joke is Yolk-a. E's are also pronounced differently. In the Netherlands you also have a second Christmas, "Tweede Kerstdag". So for that day, Joke's sister and her husband came over for dinner and coffee and everything. So that was very nice too.
And so this is Henk and Joke, I thought you might like to see a picture of them so you all can put a face to the names. So the next Holiday was New Years Eve. I'll get to what I did over the break later. But for New Years Eve we went to Ingeborg's house, which is a good friend of Joke. She has two daughters, one of which is Jeffrey's real good friend. We were also at Ingeborg's for Christmas Eve too. There is another family that came also, also good friends of Joke and Ingeborg.
This is our home!But New Year's Eve was different than Christmas Eve of course! On New Years we eat Oliebollen, which is a fried sort of bread with or without raisins. It's something that appears in the Netherlands only around this time of the year, and then you have to wait until next year to eat them again. They're very good, and you eat them with powdered sugar. But New Years was very fun, we played a game in Dutch that was really fun, and also set off fireworks. New years Eve is the biggest time to set off fireworks in the Netherlands, and so there are still little firework shells on the ground here. As it got closer to midnight we started watching the TV and singing along together. After midnight, a little while later Brian, Annabelle and I all went out to the city to meet our friends.
So those were the holidays! As for the rest of the break I was pretty busy. We're back in school now, but last week was the first week back. This is a picture in Efteling, which I had been to once before. But during the Winter they have, can you guess? Winter Efteling! So that's just the park decorated a little bit, and there is an ice skating rink and things like that. So one day we all went to Winter Efteling, and that was really nice to go back to again, because I hadn't been on so many roller coasters the last time I was there. I also went ice skating over the break, and to Den Haag (The Hague). I also had the chance to see some of the other exchange students, two of the girls at a AFS volunteer's house in Best. It's always so nice to see the other exchange students and talk about everything.
This is me in Den Haag. The last day of break we also went to a High tea with all of Joke's family. That was really nice to meet everyone, and the tea and goodies were very delicious. So that was a nice end to our two week break. For some reason, we had the 24th to the 8th off, so we had a week off after Christmas, rather than before. Well... I think that's all done about Christmas.

I have my Dutch Language test at the end of the month, on the 28th so wish me luck! I think it will be okay though. It's a listening test, and I'm doing really good at that. Not bragging at all, but my dutch is getting good. I mean, you know you're doing something right when people stop answering you in English when you speak. Dutch people are always really impressed when you speak Dutch, because they always try to learn other's languages, like German or French or English, but when you take the time to learn their language they really appreciate it. So now when I speak dutch people are happy for me that it's coming along so well. In Steenbergen a lot of people take dance classes, like Samba or the foxtrot or waltz, and then there are, well I'm not sure what to call it in English, so "Dance nights" that they play music and you can practice dancing and what have you. And it's a really fun atmosphere, and I was there the other day, and talking to some new people and they always ask how long you have been here, and then are so impressed to see how much dutch you've learned in such a short time. It makes me feel really proud of myself too. It's such a good feeling to have someone say that to you, wow! Your dutch is so good! So. I think that's everything for now!