Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Because Carnaval Is Over & The World Keeps Spinning...Miraculously

I did not mean to go this long between posts! Almost two weeks - jeez. Sorry. I can't believe I've been with my new family for 3 weeks - it feels like forever (in a good way)! Since I last wrote I experienced something very special to the southern part of the Netherlands, Carnaval. It involved 5 long days of dressing up and drinking. Most of the stories, however, are not the most appropriate for this particular outlet. I'll post some pictures because they're too good not to, but I dressed up two nights in a random mash up of stuff that didn't match, one night as a tiger/Fred Flinstone (whichever you prefer) and on the last night, as my personal homage to the Vancouver Olympics and the Netherlands success in this particular area, I was an ice skater (which involved a onesie you'd have to be insane to wear...yours truly).

After carnaval I relaxed and recovered. Some people get really sick after Carnaval (i.e. Ivy or my host sister Moniek), but I mean, if you're going to go out 4, sometimes 5 days in a row, it's bound to take some kind of toll. After like, 72 hours of doing nothing, I got off my butt and went to Arnhem to stay with Joss (Australia) for a night! We ended up inviting a new SHOPer, Beatrice (NZL), who really just gave me a blast from the past (exchange past, that is). It was weird to see someone here that didn't speak any dutch still, wasn't used to the bikes, trains, breakfast, everything. I'll tell you one thing, it did not make me miss the beginning of exchange, that's for sure. Especially with the feeling that has come over me lately. I probably wrote about this in my last entry but everything is just going splendidly. I don't think I need to dwell anymore on that fact. With Joss and Beatrice we attempted to go to Albert Heijn so I could be the first to lead Beatrice down the dark path which is Dutch snack food. Unfortunately, AH was closed, and so was C1000 - so we settled on the gas station. After almost throwing a fit right then and there when I saw the limited and overpriced selection they had to get my sugar fix in, I moved some stands and found a hidden shelf with stroopwafels (I know, there are some talents you just can't even deny)! They were nasty and stale but I was satisfied with being the first the expose someone to those devil snacks. The morning after we walked around Arnhem and shopped a little bit, I didn't buy anything but it was such a nice day out I was just in a good mood. It felt so much like the Europe I had seen before this year - at the same time that could be because we're entering spring which is the only season I've been in Europe previously in my life.

The last day of break, Sunday, we ended up taking a road trip to Antwerpen in Belgium! My host family just asked on Saturday and I was so down. By the way when I say road trip, I mean like, 45 minutes or so in the car, so I guess it doesn't really count. Cool how close it is though. But let me say, I loved Antwerp. It was old and messy and smelly and beautiful and just great. I guess for me when I think of Europe and the parts I've seen previously in my life it wasn't this sterile place, it had a little edge, and I felt that in Antwerp, I liked it. We really just walked around and saw some parts of the city. It was Sunday so we couldn't really shop because everything was closed. Ok here's the food installment of this blog entry (because I have come to the sad realisation that this comes off more off a dietary journal more than anything, to those of you that don't know me, I'm not a fatass (I'm actually still losing weight, kinda), to those of you that do...could you honestly expect anything else?): We ate Belgian waffles and Belgian fries. I just want to insert at this point that while writing this I just sat for a couple minutes trying to think of the best word to describe this gastronomical experience, I came up with nothing - that good. Moving on...

I wouldn't say anything exciting has happened this week. But then again it's only Tuesday. Actually I got told today that the Hague Model UN was back on! I feel that this is so typical of my Dutch school to alert me of something like this two weeks before it actually takes place, and lucky for the other 8 people, I have experience doing this, while they have none. Patrick the teacher! Jesus I can't see that going well. Either way I can't see transportation, lodging, food, competition fees, something to do for the weekend, and something to occupy my time for 2 weeks as a bad thing - so I'll do it (as if I'd say no...)(despite how lame I think my friends here think I am for doing it, oh well). We're Somalia and Madagascar. I'm not sure which I'll be yet but I'm positive it'll be cake making friends as Somalia, what with their friendly national mascot being the looting modern pirate (allegedly). Another event in the near future is the SHOPer orientation camp this weekend (have I written about this? I'll continue anyway, if you know about this, ignore it I guess, but you should know I doesn't make me feel good to think people are just skimming my writing) that I've been invited to! Along with Caitlin and Lauren (USA) and Walker (Canada) we get to speak to 12-ish new AFSers in Nederland about the hell (positive or negative, take that as you may) of a year their about to have. I wasn't sure I would be able to stand in front of the new students and confidently tell them this year would be worth it - that changed for me so quickly, it is worth it. I know I keep writing a lot in retrospect but I really didn't believe people when they told me this year would go so fast (and when I tell future kids who are going to do this the same thing, I suppose in turn they won't believe me, either). It's scary and thrilling and sad all at once. I love my friends here, both my Dutch ones and some of the AFS kids, I am so happy to be in the family situation I am now, and I have really grown to hold a part of the Netherlands with me. I'll be the first to admit it didn't come easily or smoothly, but it's here, and it's time to enjoy. My Dutch is something I'm really proud of. Although my friends don't know sometimes my language level (we speak mostly English, I know I know keep the scolding to yourself), I have really tried to prove in the last month, month and a half that I really have competence in Dutch.

I'm not so sure I have much more to write about today - so I'm just going to show you a few pictures from Carnaval then be through with it for today!

Liz, David, Kelvin and I at the school party
Merel, Kelvin and I at the school party

 Pim, Boy, and I on the 3rd night of Carnaval

Koen - the New Age Nerd

 Koen, Liz, David, and I on the last night of Carnaval (covering up my ice skater costume)

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