Saturday, January 29, 2011

Will You Teach Me?

The worst feeling in the world is desperately wanting to learn something and having nowhere to learn it or no one to help you learn it.  I don't know where I would be today without the Internet.  There is so much that you can learn from it, almost anything.  Just type it in and whatever you want to know is only seconds away.  Can you imagine if you had to go to a library or search for the answer to almost every question you had?  I know one thing is for sure and that is that I would not know nearly as much as I do today, not because I wouldn't be interested, but because it would take so much extra effort to find out.  "Nickapedia" would not be the great source of information that it is today! haha

As most of you who read this blog know, I have been very excited to find out that I was able to take inburgeringscursus after thinking that I was not allowed.  I was looking forward to this so much, finally some much needed direction and help with Dutch...something that cannot unfortunately be found on the Internet like most things... Anyway, I was supposed to receive an invitation form Gemeente Haarlem so we could discuss which class would be right for me.  Well the invitation never came so I decided to call them again yesterday.  The woman that I spoke with on the phone then basically told me that I was not allowed to take the classes because I was a kennismigrant (knowledge migrant) and my residency status was listed as tijdelijk (temporary.)  I told her that I know I don't have to take the courses but I wanted to because I wanted to speak Dutch better.  I also told her that I have no idea how long I will be staying in Holland so I would like to learn.  She told me it was not an option and that the Gemeente would not pay for it.  I was so mad because the person I talked to before said it was okay and no one every called me back saying that I would not receive an invitation.

Needless to I was really disappointed and upset when I got off the phone.  I should have been at least a little happy because this entire conversation happened in Dutch but I just could not be happy and the moment and I could kinda tell the woman was dumbing things down for me while one the phone.  My day was pretty much shot after that, I ended up staring at my computer screen for about 15 to 20 minutes not even touching the keyboard or mouse.  Lunch was right around the corner and I really did not feel like sitting in front of everyone being all depressed and upset, hearing them all speaking in Dutch would have made things much worse anyway.  So I decided that I just needed to go home so I left work, drove home, and just worked from home for the rest of the day.  I did not know what I was going to to, the regular Dutch language classes the you pay for had already started (or so I thought) and the next classes would not be offered until September!  What was I going to do, there is no way that I would have been able to take it for that much longer.  These thought were running through my mind all day.

Later in the day my boss called me to see what was wrong (I previously sent an email to him and my team before I left work saying that I got some bad news and had to go home, I just could not concentrate on work.)  He was relieved that my family was okay and was a bit surprised about my reasoning.  Then after I explained a bit I think he finally understood.  I have been asking and asking him what PPG could do for me in the way of Dutch training, he keeps saying that he is going to find out but never does.  Now maybe he will see that this really is effecting me in a really negative way.  He said he is going to check for me on Monday, and I hope this time he really dose.

He and so many other people keep telling me that I should not worry and that I am learning fast, but that is not the point, it could be a lot faster and cause me a lot less heartache if I had organized lessons.  Like just last week I met a woman who has only lived in Holland for six months and her Dutch was way better than mine because she had classes.  Now I know I can take the classes on my own and not worry about having PPG arrange it, I was actually going to do that this January but did not because I thought I was going to be able to do inburgering.  The other thing is that Dutch people just don't understand.  They all say the same thing, "you don't need Dutch, English is just fine."  And it is true if you wanted to have a very unfulfilling life and live each day just by getting by and understanding nothing around you then yes, you do not need Dutch, but it you want more, Dutch is a must!  Now that I can handle some things in Dutch, I can certainly notice that people treat you way better than they do if you were to be speaking English.  Not that Dutch people are rude to English people, I would just say they are passive towards them.

Last night, Sammy mentioned that Volksuniversiteit did not start classes until 7 Feb. and that I could probably do the intake test next week.  I do plan on checking it out next week, but I've already been to their website and they only mention taking the intake exam last September!  So I don't really even know if this is going to work out either.

So we now get to the subject, will you teach me?, of this blog entry.  I am desperate at this point.  If anyone is willing to sit and help me, I would be very grateful, I would even pay you if you wanted.  I need help and there is only so much that I can learn on my own.  I don't care what you want to teach me, I will sit listen and learn everything that you will tell me.  I am getting to the end of my rope, if I don't find some way to start seriously learning faster and in a more organized way, as much as I would rather not at this point, I might start looking for another job back in Pittsburgh.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Summer Plans

I'm getting excited for summer.  I know it's still a long way off but I'm ready.  I was just looking over my bucket list...anyone want to help me fulfil anything on it?  Take a look here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Glasses

Finally bought European sized glasses. Here is a comparison to my
American ones.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dutchieness

If you've noticed, I haven't been posting as much on here anymore because I felt like everyone is getting tired about hearing about me learning Dutch all the time, but the face is, that I spend a lot of my time on this right now and I think I want to continue to write about it.  I really don't have many people to talk to about this, and writing about it on my blog (even if no one reads it or cares) still makes me feel better.  So, here we go...

First of all, I just want to say that even though learning Dutch takes up a lot of my free time, I would never skip out on things that come up just so I can study Dutch, I only study when I'm not doing anything else.  The reason that I moved to Europe was not to learn Dutch, but to enjoy myself and explore, and that is what I do when the opportunity presents itself.

So, let's see, where to start?  Coming back to NL after being in the US for two weeks made me a bit nervous about remembering what I  had already learned.  Turns out, I was worried for nothing, I ended up pretty much remembering everything, and maybe even somewhat better since I had a break!  I'm not sure if I mentioned this on here yet or not, but I made speaking Dutch more often at work and with Dutch people that I know, my New Years resolution.  I use it always at the store and with people I don't know, but with those that I do know, I always felt too embarrassed.  It was hard at first, but I'm starting to use it more and more now at work and with friends sometimes.  Almost all of my emails to Dutch people in general are now all in Dutch, that is much easier though since I have much more time to think that when I'm speaking.

Some cool things that have happened recently are:
  • I wrote a letter to my auto insurance company totally in Dutch and because of the letter, (and an attached letter from my old US insurer) they lowered my rates.  It was so cool to have something substantial take place and I did not even have to use English.
  • The other day I got a letter from  Gemeente Haarlem about a bezoekersparkeervergunning (visitors parking permit).  I told Kris it was nice that I could read the whole letter because that usually does not happen with official things like that because the language they use is a bit harder to understand.  He then told me no way man, it is because your Dutch is getting better.  And I of course said no way!  Take for example things from the IND (branch of government that deals with immigration here in Holland) those things I do not understand at all!  Then a couple days later I was thinking about that and what Kris had said so I went and got out some of my old letters from the IND.  Guess what!  I could read them and pretty much understand what they were talking about!!  I could not believe it for one that Kris was right and for two that I could read it!  It was pretty exciting.
  • Last week I called Gemeente Haarlem and was asking about the inburgeringcursus which I mentioned in this post.  What I did not say was that when I called I only spoke in Dutch to the woman on the phone.  I kept thinking when am I going to have to switch to English?  At one point, I did not understand something that she asked me so I said (in Dutch) that I did not understand and instead of her asking me in English, she asked another way in Dutch, I understood and answered her and we continued on!  When I hung up the phone I just sat there and was like "Wow, what just happened?"  I could not believe that I actually arranged something like that on the phone with no English.
  • I made reservations at a restaurant last week and it went totally sooth.  The last time I did it, it was also totally in Dutch, but there were some awkward moments, this time, I had none.
  • Yesterday, I had a meeting with my boss, his boss, and an external company.  I was looking at the meeting invite and was like "oh no, I am the only English speaker here."  I hate that because then everyone has to change to English just for me.  When we got to the meeting, my boss's boss (who knows that I am learning Dutch) asked if I would like him to do the meeting in Dutch!  He said that it would also be perfectly fine to to in English.  But I said no, I want to try Dutch and I will let you know if I get totally lost.  One and a half hours later, I was totally exhausted because of how closely I had to pay attention, but you know what, I made it through that whole damn meeting!!  I generally understood everything (excluding the details) and answered every question that I was asked.  I  was pretty psyched after that.  Now my boss will actually come up to me and ask me things in Dutch which he never really did unless I was the one who started in Dutch, so that is also kinda cool.
  • Last night, I met a Dutch woman at meetup and she told me that she was very impressed with me for having no lessons and only living here for 9 months.  We talked for a little while and even though I struggled through a lot of things, it was cool to have a conversation with an actual Dutch person at the meetup.
  • Last weekend I went out with Kris and Eric and they both told me that I was going good.  This met a lot coming from them because complements in Holland don't really come along like the do all the time in the US, people here only say things if they really mean it.  We had a bit of a chat about it at the end of the night and it was really nice to actually talk about this with real people for once than just on this blog.
  • I worked through an entire issue with my boss over IM in Dutch and was able to take care of the problem.
I can't wait for my classes to start.  I really hope that they are good and that I can actually communicate well when I am done.

After saying all of these things, I can finally see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I have no idea how I am going to get to the end of the tunnel (no at all) but I am pretty sure that I am getting closer and closer every day.  I still cannot imagine myself having a Dutch conversation without struggling, I thing that is still a long way off, but we'll see, only time will tell.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Den Haag


Yesterday Alena and I went to Den Haag.  The above in a picture of "Plein."  The coolest thing that we saw was this:
This is a glass dome at the top of a store.

We just walked around the whole day and had a few beers.  It ended up being a really cool place so I will probably go back.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back in Holland

First of all, sorry I haven't written in a while.  I guess I just haven't felt like blogging lately.  I've been back in NL for about two weeks now, and I was actually glad to be back.  I really feel at home here now (sorry mom.)  This is not to say that I am going to live here forever, who knows what the future holds for me, I'm just saying that I am happy right here, right now.  Things are really starting to fall into place for me here now.  I already have more friends here that I did in Pittsburgh (a lot of people moved away since college)  and there is always something going on.  I guess too I kinda like the challenge of living life in a place that is different from home.  The challenge is becoming easier and easier every day and that makes me so happy.

Now, this post would not be complete without a Dutch update, so here it is.  Dutch is...getting better...yes I said it, I can finally see that I am improving.  I hardly ever have to use English anymore when I am out shopping which is pretty cool.  I can even deal with some wrong numbers on the phone now (which I get often.)  Also, as more and more people at work start to realize that I really am trying to learn Dutch, they are becoming a lot more interested in me, which is cool.  Just today a co-worker (who I thought didn't like me at all) told me that he thought it was really cool I was learning Dutch and that I am probably better at this point in my learning than another co-worker was back when they first moved here.  That made me pretty happy hearing it from this person.  It felt like a real complement.

Another thing I found out was that I am allowed to take inburgeringscursus (integration classes) to help me learn things useful to know while living in Holland and...TEACH ME DUTCH!!  I was so happy to find this out but so mad at the same time because I've been asking about this and no one really knew.  I feel like I kinda wasted nine months on just trying to figure things out on my own.  I WILL be starting these classes soon for sure!  The best part is, if you pass an inburgeringsexamen (integration exam) the government pretty much pays for most of the money the classes cost!

That's about all for now.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My First Trip Home!


I finally made it back the the US for a visit with some friends and family and it was really nice.  It was crazy being back.  When I was flying over Downtown Pittsburgh I just a huge smile on my face and just could not wait to land.  My dad picked me up at the airport and I was so excited to see him.  On our way home, it was strange, as we were driving I looked at him and said I felt like I never left, everything just looked so familiar.  When we got home, I gave my mom a big hug.  She made dinner that night and it was good to have some of her food again.  Not much else happened after that, I was dead tired.

The first two days I was working in GO but I did not mind.  It was really good to see all of the old people that I used to work with.  We went out for GOOD coffee and Mexican both days.

My first weekend home, some of my friends and I got a hotel room in the city and stayed there the whole weekend just hanging out and going out.  We went out in Oakland the first night and Southside the second night.  I was so happy to eat some Mad Mex!!

The rest of the time I home I spent mostly visiting with family and friends.  The one night my parents took my brother and I to a Pen's game, that is us above.  And the next night, Mike took me to a Steeler's game.  I thought I was going to hate it at first because it was so cold (and it was COLD) but I ended up enjoying the time with him, it was fun.

Christmas was good, I got a kindle!  I didn't even ask for one, but it was a nice surprise, I can't believe how real the text looks...WOW!

All and all it was a good trip home.  I may be back again already in February for a business trip.  Hopefully I get lots of visitors this year in Holland.

Thanks everyone for making my trip home really awesome.  I really missed you all.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Voor mijn Nederlands Sprekende Vrienden

Hallo  en beste wensen in 2011.  Nu is de tijd voor resoluties en ik heb één van mijn eigen.  Dit zal een moeilijk resolutie te houden worden omdat ik maak het zo voor mijzelf...
Mijn nieuwe jaar resolutie is:

Spreek meer Nederlands in het bijzonder op het werk.

Ik spreek Nederlands overal maar op het werk of met mijn Nederlandse sprekende vrienden.  Ik wil graag met ze in het Nederlands spreken maar ik ben bang.  Ik weet niet waarom, maar het is zo.  Misschien het is omdat ik ze goed ken en wil niet om dom te kijken.  Misschien het is omdat ik heel langzaam ben en ze niet.  Misschien het is omdat ik niet genoeg Nederlands ken.  Maar het moet stoppen!  Ik moet met ze in het Nederlands spreken als ik een goede Nederlands spreker wil zijn.

Als je dit leest, kun je me helpen?  Praat met me (langzaam) in het Nederlands wanneer je een conversatie met me begin.  Ik zal heel blij zijn en zal in het Nederlands antwoorden.  Ik heb veel oefen met email, IMen, en SMSen in het Nederlands maar nu moet ik mijn mond openen en spreek in het Nederlands!

Ik had vandaag op het kantoor gefaald en sprak ik geen Nederlands.  :-(  Ik hoop morgen zal beter zijn.  Ik zal het proberen.