Over the course of the evening I got to speak to a lot of people (some who were pretty good, and others who were not) in Dutch. It was so nice to have people actually listen to what I was saying in Dutch and not just switch to English. I found out that I know a lot more than I thought I knew. It is just really hard for me to realize that otherwise since I am always around fluent Dutch speakers; it just always seams like I don't know anything around them. But with these people it was different. I was definitely the person who lived in the Netherlands the shortest period of time, but guess what? I knew more than some of the people that have been living here for 2-3 years! I got a lot of complements on what I knew for being here only six months (well now almost seven I guess.) And that finally made me feel like I really accomplished something. I was actually able to have some conversations IN DUTCH and help other people. I got a lot of help from others there as well.
This all really made me feel welcome and like I was finally part of a group even though I hardly knew these people. I am so tired of being the outsider, and this was really nice for a change. Some things I really like about last night that differ from my normal experiences of speaking Dutch with Dutch people both at work and other places are:
- People look directly at you while they are speaking in Dutch, not just look at everyone else at the table assuming that you won't undersand.
- When I say "wat zei je?" (what did you say) because I did not hear someone, they will repeat in in Dutch, not just repeat it in English
- The conversation continues in Dutch even if I or the other person make a slight mistake
- People were happy to speak in Dutch with me
- I did not feel intimidated at all
- People did not speak super fast and are easy to understand
- People did not try to teach me only swear or sex words or other things that would be funny for them to teach me. We actually had meaningful conversations where I can used what I learned again.
- I felt included the entire time, there were no side conversations with people speaking real fast in Dutch to each other
- When I asked a question in Dutch, it was answered in Dutch, NOT ENGLISH! (this is the one that pisses me off all the time at work.)
By the way, I got to check off one more of my Dutch goals! :-)