Monday, August 23, 2010


I just got back from Lowlands, which is the big three day music festival that Kris and I went to with Dirk from work and a bunch of his friends.  The weekend was both really awesome and pretty terrible all at the same time, I will explain:

Thursday after work, Kris and I headed out to Lowlands.  Thursday night was basically just to get your tent setup and hang out, there was not music that day.  When we got there, Dirk let me barrow a tent since I did not have one and I put it together.  After that, we all just sat around outside, had some drinks and talked in Dutch.  I of course could not really follow everything but was doing okay at listening.  It was actually kind of fun at first to practice.  The only bad part was I really could not respond to anything because by the time I would think of something to say, the opportunity was lost.  No big deal though, I would just reply in English.  Pretty much the only English spoke to me that night was people asking if they could have some of the wine I brought.  I brought it for everyone so of course I said yes.  I thought it was a little shitty though to just keep taking my wine and not even talking to me, but whatever, first night, and I didn't really know these people.  We called it and early night that night to get a good start on the concerts the next day.  It is very hard to sleep there though because there are tents of people very close together (as you can see from the picture above) and everyone wants to party.  I heard people talking later outside of my tent, but I did not feel like dealing with the Dutch so I just tried to go back to sleep, very frustrated.

Friday was the first day of concerts, but first more all Dutch conversation at camp...
When we walked into the actual festival grounds, it was really cool.  There were about 10 or so different venues each having an hour long show every other hour from 11:30 AM until 5:00 AM every day.  In between all of the concerts there were stores, food places, and other random stuff.  The whole setup was really cool.  For the most part that day, we just went to concerts and relaxed at the campground.  Also, that night we saw blink-182 which was really the only band I knew.
Later that night, after going to bed, the same thing happened were I was not tired in my tent, but really could not join the conversation outside so I just stayed in and tried to go to sleep.

Saturday was more concerts and campground.  By this time, I was starting to get really frustrated with the people not including me in anything.  I would literally just sit there starring into space, like I was sitting there by myself.  Every once in a while, someone would ask me a question, I would answer, and then would just continue on with the conversation in Dutch like I was never involved.  It thought by this point, I was around these people enough that they would at least want to talk to me a little.  I totally did not expect (or want) them to switch to an entirely English conversation for me (this is their country and there language, I am the outsider,) but including me just a little bit would have been nice.

(to be fair, I have to note that there were two people out of the group of about 15 who made the effort to speak slowly to me in Dutch or speak with me in English.  I really appreciated that and it would have made all the difference if the others would have done the same.)

By Saturday evening, I had enough, I did not want to be around people that had no interest in me.  I spent a lot of money to go to this festival and I wanted to enjoy myself so I just got up and left (I'm sure no one even noticed.)  I saw a couple shows on my own and actually had a pretty good time.  Later on, Kris called me and I met up with him to see some more shows.

Today was the last day at Lowlands.  The day started off by everyone excluding me again.  I think Kris started to realize this as well and asked me what was going on.  I told him basically how much I loved the festival and the concerts but was having the worst time ever with this group of people because I was totally bored and felt like I was pretty much by myself the whole time I was with them.  So pretty much for the entire day today Kris and I just went concert hooping on our own with out really hanging out at the campsite, and today was by far the best day I had.  We had a pretty awesome time seeing a lot of shows and I actually felt like my company was appreciated.  I hope that I did not ruin Kris's last day for him, but he definitely made mine.  I really owe him for sparing me today from having to be in a pretty terrible situation.

All and all, I had a good time at Lowlands and am glad I got to experience it but, I would never go again with all Dutch speaking people (until I can speak Dutch, but lest be honest, that's not going to be for a long time, if ever.)  I got to hear a lot of bands that I never heard before and discovered a lot of music that I really liked (and some I did not!)

The one lesson I think I learned from this is that I have not be practicing speaking enough.  I think after returning from holiday that I will make a point to have at least two or three conversations in Dutch each day and have the person I am speaking with help me with want I don't know.

I also just want to point out that for those of you who have never been in a situation like this, it is really difficult to explain what it feels like, so it may just sound like I'm being a bitch, but I'm really not.  I tried really hard to fit in and pay really close attention to what was happening, but you can only go so far without talking (actually coming up with something to say it much harder than just listening) for three days before you start to go crazy.  I also now truly know how it feels to be an outsider.  If I ever come across someone who is trying to learn English, (or Dutch if I ever get to be good enough,) I know exactly how I will not treat them.  I wish I would have had this experience before going to CMU and I would not have joked around so much (it was all in fun never mean) about some of the foreigner's English.  Their English was phenomenal compared to my Dutch.

Sorry this post turned into another Dutch language post, but that was really what was on my mind tonight.

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