Friday, July 23, 2010

Nederlandse Week (Dutch Week)

As everyone probably knows by now, I am desperately trying to learn Dutch.  I am almost done with Rosetta Stone so I picked Monday the 19th to start speaking all Dutch at work to speed up the process.  Everyone says that you can only lear a language by using it, so why not jump right in I thought?  Here is how the week went day by day:

Monday I got up and was ready and raring to go!  I was excited to get started and really put the learning process into overdrive.  As I started walking over to Kris's, I started to get a bit nervous and all of a sudden my entire mouth was bone dry.  I greeted Kris with a "Goedemorgen," instead of the standard good morning.  The ride to work was very quite.  I did not have much to say because I did not know how to say much.  Kris was trying to make conversation but unfortunately I had to keep saying "Ik begrip je niet" (I don't understand you.  Throughout the day, it was more of the same.  People would try to teach me things but then I would quickly forget.  By the end of the day I was really bummed.  I felt like I learned nothing over the entire day.  I switched back to English on the way home with Kris.  The evening I decided to just go out the the beach to clear my head.  Monday night a wrote a post about my experience that day.

Tuesday I woke up to some wonderful comments on that post.  They were full of suggestions, helpful hints, motivation, and encouragement.  I don't think the people who wrote those comments know how much they made my morning that day.  I woke up kinda dreading going into work and starting the whole Dutch thing all over again, but after reading the comments, I was again looking forward to it.  The one suggestion I took right away was to bring around a notebook with me and write down the things I wanted to know how to say and the things that people said that I did not understand.  I then had people translate for me.  Tuesday went 10 times better!  One of the first things I changed was that I would use Dutch whenever possible and English at other times, not "No English" like I did on Monday, that just did not work.  I felt like getting to go over the words and phrases in the book over and over really helped to make things stick.

Wednesday I was again ready to go and was hopeful for another day as good as Tuesday.  This did not happen.  For some reason I felt shitty again and did not write nearly as many words in my book that day.  Over the course of the day I started to feel like crap.  That night on of my hipster friends came over and we payed a visit to Mary Jane.  Haven't done that since college (I am not counting my first time in Amsterdam because I'm pretty sure they sold us tobacco there.)  Honestly, I am no stoner, but I think that is exactly what I needed.  It took my mind of of Dutch for the night and just put me in a really happy mood.

Thursday I woke up tired as hell, but still in a great mood to learn some more Dutch.  I felt great the whole day, I was forming sentences that people could understand (even though they were not yet grammatically correct or pronounced exactly right...I still can't make that damn "ui" sound!)  After reflecting on the day on the way home from work, I felt like I really learned something that day and made some progress.  It felt really good.

Friday (today) I woke up and did not feel like learning Dutch.  I felt that way pretty much the whole way to work.  Once I was there for a while, I was suddenly in the mood to start learning Dutch.  I was doing okay, but then for some reason in the middle of the day, I snapped back into not feeling like learning anymore and being depressed because for everything that I seem to learn, I figure out about 10 more things that either don't make sense or that I still have to learn.  I came home feeling not that great overall so I took a random bike ride to clear my head.  I am feeling a bit better now.

Overall, this week was a real roller coaster!  There were a lot of ups and downs and was a very jerky ride.  I am starting to realize that I just need to enjoy the ride without getting so upset.  This is something I really have been trying to work on.  But for some reason my feelings on learning Dutch are just really random.  Sometimes I am really excited to learn and don't care about making mistakes as long as I am speaking Dutch yet other times I don't want to deal with it and get upset every time I get something wrong.  It's like there is some kind of internal switch inside me that randomly flips on and off.  I wish it could just remain on optimistic, but unfortunately, life does not work that way.

Anyway, I decided that I definitely did learn some things during Nederlandse Week and I am planning on continuing it indefinitely until I am confident in speaking the language to anyone about any topic.  I know this is a pretty ambitious goal, but I am also a pretty ambitious and determined person.  I literally devote a ton of my free time to learning this crazy language.  I search the Internet for readings, videos, or anything else that will help me to understand.  I have faith that it will come one day and that is what is keeping me going at this point.  I do not want to just be "that American on Jeroen's team."  I want to be able to talk with and interact with people in the native language of the land in which I live.  So although this week was a little rocky I am still going at this with full force.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me and maybe, just maybe, one day Ik zal spreken goede Nederlands (I shall speak good Dutch!)

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