Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Because As a Matter of Fact...

Jeez I can't believe it was 2 weeks ago when I last wrote in here. Time seems to be stuck somewhere between flying and crwaling. Weeks go by quickly, but days drag a little. I mean school is still school (which means it sucks) but of course I am still beyond happy with the Slokkers. I go back and forth a lot, will I miss it here? or won't I? I'm sure I will but lately I've just kept thinking "I'm ready." Can't help it! It's been one heck of a long journey and I do feel proud and accomplished to have done this year. In August, the idea of being here in mid-March was shocking, lightyears away. Not that I ever really planned on leaving (ok I mean I entertained the idea...once...or twice) but that you never actually think about much past the year of exchange. It's just a hard concept.

In other news I had a nice (tiring) weekend. Friday I hung out with friends from school, they came here, then we went out for the night. I wouldn't say anything special happened but of course I always enjoy going out with them. The next day my host parents left for a weekend in Brugges and Crystal and Caitlin (USA) came over! It's been a good 2 almost 3 months since I'd seen Crystal and only a few since I'd seen Caitlin but it was really nice seeing them and showing them my new house and family (even though the only person home was Moniek). Moniek's birthday was last Wednesday so she had friends over on Saturday to celebrate. We hung out with them for a little while and then when they went to town we just relaxed and watched TV for a little. Oh except for dinner we had tacos and they were the shit. I cannot wait to eat Chipotle asap after I get back to the US.

I have a cool idea of something to do with this entry. Earlier this year I was keeping a moleskin with random jots of stuff when I was in school and bored. I am almost too bored in school lately to even remember to write in it so I'm give you guys a few things I've written in it through out this year:

"Haven't I been myself? Don't I deserve some legitimate comradery? I say yes. The Dutch, no surprise, remain confused. Sometimes I emerge from the cloud of disillusionment I seem to be shrouded in and realize - who do I have here!? No one." - 9/16/09

"I would reckon things are getting much better. By a lot. Yay." - 9/30/09

"Being here lately had made me realize what everyone says is true! A summer/semester isn't enough. To think I left Panama two weeks prior to this point last summer. It's pouring out - I think I must get used to this." 10/1/09

"...lately things have still continued in a positive direction! At home sometimes it's not amazing...I think my Dutch is making strides. It's fun to practice with people." 10/7/09

"I know there is something that connects me to these people but I just keep going because each day is something good." 10/14/09

"Last week sucked with them and not that it was amazing this week we can coexist. I feel like they know so little about me and my life and only what I tell them- they never ask questions!" 10/16/09

"Although making plans is what gets me through the day I don't want to spend too much time with AFS. Lord knows when I'll learn how to speak this language. It's supposed to be Speak Dutch Wednesday - it's not going so hot." 11/4/09

"A lot of people are starting to ask me if I'm having fun here or if I'm bored yet. Yeah - I don't exactly know what to say. It is boring and not that fun. It's just life." 11/5/09

"I'm having a very difficult time lately- even considering going home. There are strong arguments for me going home, including my health and happiness. Yet I know the arguments are even stronger for me staying." 11/25/09

Ok well those are a couple things I was thinking early on in the year. In a little while I'll post some from December on, I don't want to write them all in here at once - that'd be boring. I wish my school just knew what to do with an exchange student. Blah sorry it's just so easy to lapse into talking about dumb stuff in this blog instead of focusing on other stuff. See, I guess it's at this point in the year where it's rather hard/awkward to always find something to write about in a blog. It's not the beginning, nothing is new anymore. It's not the holidays, we just chillin' really. It's not exactly the end, I still have 2 more months, yet some days when I look at my ridiculously busy weekends it can feel way shorter. But I've got this idea that when this year is over this blog will tell me something. I can look back on it clearly as I have tried to be objective as possible this year. I have been (most days) my harshest critic this year (although on the days I wasn't (ehem hello first 5 months) I'd say I was a close 2nd or 3rd!), but I don't think that's a problem. It's a growing experience, a time to see for yourself what you're made of. Honestly I still don't know the answer. Between boring classes, trying to prove my Dutch, and just in general keeping my brain from melting, I haven't always gotten the time (ha...) to figure it out. Then again people always say it's nothing you can see on exchange.

I hope people don't get disappointed by this blog not being a silly, lovely, flowery account of Tulips & Klompen: The Year in the Netherlands which CHANGED MY LIFE. Because honestly I'd rather gag myself before I write one of those tales. I can't think of new, cute, little things I love about the Netherlands everyday. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It took me a long time to love this country - but I do. I left Panama after 5 weeks, and I took with me a piece of Panama. It was right there in my heart. The culture, the soul. It took me 5 1/2 months to feel the same way about the Netherlands. But that's ok. If I had this easy, I highly doubt this year would be half as fun. If it was easy, I'm almost positive you wouldn't get half as many blog posts out of me and it may look like the blogs of some of the other kids in my group (shoutout).

In less than 2 weeks my family comes. It's time to stick my two worlds in the blender for a week and see what comes out! I know I'll have the time of my life showing off the Netherlands to my parents and siblings, I honestly can't wait. From other people who've seen their families (Crystal, Caitlin) it sounds like a really recharging experience. And while after they leave I only have about 8 weeks left here, I hope it works in a similar fashion. I'm doubting my ability to pull out another entry before they come though so the next time I might get all up in blogger again would be in April (this is insane to me).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Because It's Almost Spring (Which In My Head Means It's Summer)

I don't have anything particularly exciting to write about I just felt like writing so I'll make up a little something to keep things strung together.

I think I'll begin with a little frustration I've been facing with my school. They seem to have trouble knowing what to do with me and I seem to have trouble being the only one to force myself to do work in Dutch. Result? Not too much. I'm not saying I'd like to be forced to make every test and do every homework assignment, let's face it I'm done with high school and that has mental ramifications no matter how you slice things on this end. I would however like to change the opinions of my teachers and fellow students that think I can't speak a word of Dutch. I get asked multiple times a week if I "already speak a little Dutch" or if I understood, I get stuff translated for me when it's unnecessary but I don't really want to be rude to people that are simply offering a helping hand. I'm going to have to call the Dutch out on something this time (because I wouldn't wanna make a habit of it...ha): I'm sorry that not many people visit this country except for when they want to see tulips or smoke weed. Unfortunate? very. True? more than likely in many cases. The Dutch are used to people coming to their country for a very select number of reasons, learning to speak Dutch and about their way of life is typically not on that list. But jesus I'm here as an exchange student. I think that's really difficult for the Dutch to understand. "Why would anyone want to come to this country?" is the downtrodden question they usually pose when I first meet many people.  My point is - I already speak a good amount of Dutch (I'm impressed with myself, ok I think I've written this but don't get the wrong impression, I'm far from cocky) and some of my good friends in school here still seem to not understand that! Translation isn't necessary - appreciated, but not necessary.

This paragraph is going to be a lot of random, disconnected thoughts smushed together - enjoy. It's finally getting sunny here (We've had three straight days of sun with limited rain!), and while it's still cold it's progress. The winter was so dreary and gray here I'm really excited for warm weather to come and be able to sit outside and enjoy. Also my family is coming in a tiny bit over 3 weeks and I honestly can't believe it. When this all started their trip here felt like forever away. Even in January I felt that their coming (and imminent going) would signal the beginning of my final chapters here in this country. I suppose that is still true but I feel terribly unfinished in this country. Do I leave at the end of May? or the middle of June? I'd say at this point anything will be too early, but that's the unfortunate side of time, it only works in drive, not reverse. I think I'm ok with that though, the idea of having a summer with Shaker kids is so amazing yet so foreign at the same time I can barely stand to think about it anymore! That's a lie, I think about it all the time. To my friends from home reading this entry, I want to say one thing. We may not always have had the best contact this year (6 hour time difference can do that to you) but I have thought of you guys so much this year and I hope freshmen year has been superb but get ready because I am down with summer 2010.

Should I tell you plans I have for the next couple weeks/months now? Den Haag Model UN, a gathering (slash shit show) with AFS in mid March, proefwerk week 3 (here we go again! This shouldn't be in my plans but whaterr), my family coming for a week (Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and whatever else we get to!), Antwerp with AFS in April, general spring in the Netherlands, Rome with school, May vacation (partial eurotrip with Gabe or Copenhagen with Moniek? I don't know yet), Brussels with French class, Ardennes for my host family's family reunion/trip of sorts (I hope I'll still be here for that). It's strange that I can see it now - but at the same time I can't...the end. By the end of May beginning of June I'll be peacing out. There's still way more to figure out though. How much will I have spend on train tickets by the end of the year? Will I ever find a wife again with the new SHOPers? Can I get them to believe I can speak their language? All stuff that needs answering, luckily there's still a good chunk of time!