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!

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