Today is Sinterklaas! A Dutch holiday which centers around a man that resembles in most aspects Santa Claus himself. Differences? Sinterklaas comes from Spain in a boat with his Zwart Piets, little elfish guys with black faces (from coming down the chimney to deliver presents, Sinterklaas is too high class to do it himself - take that Santa). Either way when children are younger "Sinterklaas" gives them gifts and they eat candy and pepernoten and all is good in the world. Since this is the first year Sonja and Dennis don't believe in Sinterklaas (there was a mishap last year which involved Sonja recognizing Eric's hand when he threw the presents at the door, Dennis broached the topic at dinner one day, putting it quite eloquently for a nine year old "I really have some doubts about Sinterklaas." cracks me up), we are doing what they call surprises. Sort of like secret santa except on a budget.You make/buy a small present for someone and make a container which will hold the present (i.e. I drew Oma (grandma) so I decided to give her peanuts strung on a line for the birds (she asked for it!), as a container I made a bird house and hide the gift in the base). Ok so you get the idea. It's a much bigger deal than Christmas, or so I hear, so I'm really trying to enjoy the holiday festivities while they last.
In other news things have actually been going great since I last wrote in here. I have completely done a 180 and I have no one else to thank but myself. I have changed how I am viewing this experience and so much else has just fallen into place since then (I know it's only 10 days but I feel really good!) . I picked up a music class at school and, while it's still school, I do think it's cool (I have so much to relearn...)! A girl in my class is going to help me get my hands on a violin to rent and yeah it's just pretty exciting in general. I'm yet to hear back about Den Haag Model UN but hopefully word comes soon. All in all nothing revolutionary has happened but I just still feel good.
I have made plans to go to Belgium at the beginning of December to go visit ex-Camp Fitch compadre and fellow exchange student Peggy Olson! I'm so pumped for this one. We're going to see some Brussels and just do some general exploring. Very exciting. Not much to say on this, it's just cool.
Still rainy and gross here in terms of weather. One week it just rained every single day, it sucked. But I guess to an extent you get used to it (I'm not sure I'm at this point yet I'm just saying...I guess it's possible). My bike has been giving my trouble (with a capital T), trouble, trouble. I just got 3 spokes fixed this week then last night by some fateful occurrence two other spokes broke, I'm pretty sure the back tire is crooked, and possible even something with the breaks! Needless to say I won't be riding it if I go out tonight. Money pit. Birgit says unless you pay 500 Euro for a bike then this is a regular occurrence, I believe her but what a bummer.
This entry is just a conglomerate of random topics so bear with me. I am definitely making strides in Dutch. When my friends speak I really do understand somewhere around 2/3 of what is happening, then I react in English and they kinda get all 'if you understood...why did you chime in in English?' It's really hard to describe the lapse between understanding and speaking for me here. I didn't pressure myself to speak a lot in most of these previous months here so I really am just starting to get down and dirty with it. Birgit has cut English significantly in the house and while I still find it hard sometimes to follow what they're saying it will definitely help in the long run (I don't know how many people can understand this sensation, but when I'm spoken to in Dutch I get all wide eyed and uhh...yeah...mhmm....'ja' but when I am not being spoken to, just around it, I pick up an immensely larger amount of the conversation, probably because I'm relaxed and it really just flows right into my mind).
As a final part of this entry, I want to take the time to express the sadness I feel right now for Julia Clark and her family. My heart aches for Julia, Danny, and the rest of the Clarks. I hope that they can stay strong in these times and that they know they are not alone. Rest in Peace, Linda Clark - you are loved and missed.