Today is the first full day of my participation in an immersive Dutch language program. And right now I am wondering if I want to continue on with the Dutch I know, identifying me as an American? Or do I want to start over from scratch with my sense of language identity? The last session I had before the study break (which I am on now for an hour), I couldn’t get through a sentence without being corrected. The teacher told me that I have to stop thinking in English, to throw it out. Easier said than done. And right now I am feeling frustrated by how much I don’t know and how much I get wrong.
This morning was good. I learned to conjugate some very important verbs and the patterns they work in. Well, let’s say I can do them very well on paper but installing them in my head so I speak them in the right context is a bit more difficult. I am very grateful for the opportunity to do this. Having one on one lessons is incredible and the curriculum is specifically tailored to my competency with the language and what I want to use it for. But again, if my brain melts, I can’t push the teacher’s attention to someone else for a mental break.
While I am learning Dutch, there are many other people here learning all kinds of other languages. That’s been fun to hear and meet people. And of course, with the Dutch taking the speed skating medals today, everyone is happily temporarily Orange. It is also interesting to hear people making conversation with each other over topics they are able to express themselves with. Last night I had an amazing conversation in Dutch on waste management, recycling and food sovereignty. In Dutch with three fellow students who are here to learn French.
Okay, now I need to actually use the study hour for studying before dinner. We also eat dinner together. Unfortunately, the original cloister building was replaced by a shiny modern facility which is very nice technologically but missing the richness of the history of the order. Food is great though, much better than Ireland!
And for those keeping score, I am in the province of Brabant. So, that means I have now been to the provinces of Groningen, Noord Holland, Brabant and Limburg. And also the province that Schagen and Den Helder are located in. There are 12 provinces in all so I have a few more to go. Okay, now I really am going to study…