It is Tuesday and I am back at the manor. I am having a tremendous time. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I am not overstuffed with rules about perfectum, imperfectum, hoofd zin en bij zin, conjunctions and spelling. I do feel that the more time I spent studying one subject, the more I forget it. However, I have faith that since these methods have worked for many more students then me, I can make it through. Today one of my writing assignments was to write my first blog post in Dutch. Never fear, despite the sweat, blisters on my thumb from the pen and the hair standing up from the amount of times I pulled my hands through my hair to make the thoughts come easier, I am not going to be publishing that one any time soon. It did take me nearly an hour to write a page and a half long hand.
So what is different this time? Mostly, me. I have stopped worrying about whether or not I will learn all the Dutch I need to by the end of the week. I have put my out of office email on with the message that says “I am studying this week. I am certainly not available by telephone”. People respect this. Whereas last year I was still trying to do my job and learn because I am just that American that letting go is difficult. I also am sitting in the massage chairs at least twice per day and have convinced the other new and nervous students to do that too. Beatrix and I make the trip in 8 minutes from the manor, which is a lovely way to start and end the day. As a matter of fact, tomorrow morning I have a bike commute date with one of my teachers from last time. I am enjoying the yummy vegan food the kitchen is going through all the trouble to prepare for me, even the snacks at the end of the day before the last study session.
Today is Liberation Day. Yesterday evening during dinner we had two minutes of silence to remember the Netherlands victims of WW II. Sitting at my table was a German man of a certain age. He didn’t understand why we were silent and thought at first we were praying. So, he was twiddling his thumbs, drinking his wine and asking me why we were doing this. After the two minutes were up, I had the slightly awkward task of explaining to a 70 year old German that we were honoring the Dutch war dead from the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. He went on to whip out his iPhone and show off pictures of the hotel he is staying at, waxing on about the amazing conference facilities. Like beyond the level of the average guest. Turns out, tonight, as we sat at the same table again, I learned about his past as a paratrooper in the German army in 1965 and then his career in conference management facilities for Esso in Europe – that was his career. And hence his passion over his hotel. Listening to him was interesting. It also made me realize how very different the countries in Europe still are from each other. He’s there to learn Dutch by the way since his wife made him move here because his 91 year old mother in law refuses to give up her driver’s license and apparently terrorizes her fellow Dutch motorists frequently. I made a mental note to be careful when driving around Amersfoort, where they live!
I have collected some other little ducklings, all of whom are learning Dutch for the first time. And I have even invited two of the Amsterdam ones to the birthday party so they can meet new people. I remember how difficult it was to meet people and make friends of them when I first got here. What can I say? I think that you never know how someone might impact your life and it doesn’t cost me any effort to share my experience or make things easier for someone where I can.
I heard from home today and all the pets are doing well. The 100 Whimzee sticks I ordered for them have arrived so they are very happy. These are veggie dog sticks that I always used to get in Seattle and bring back. Ironically, they are made here but you can’t get them. I finally found a farm supply store that would sell them to me at just over wholesale sale prices. It seems that the things that used to tie me to the US are becoming less and less. I am not quite sure how I feel about that.
We had a tremendous thunderstorm here this afternoon, which dropped the temperature from 71 degrees to 61. This morning it felt like Hawaii and with the humidity to match. I could completely hear my mom making the remark about knowing that it was going to rain by looking at my hair. Which I always used to reply to her that she was just jealous of my curls.
Tomorrow is the short day. We only have class and dinner until 1945. I would like to say I would be heading out to the local disco but there isn’t actually one here. I have plans to make the most of the sunlight and ride around to the woods and see some of the historical sites. I won’t be doing homework. That reminds me that I still have some to do so I better hit the books.