Monday, February 21, 2011

Round the world - op de fiets

This weekend, we had "Round the world - op de fiets."  Basically everyone who was interested picked a country and had food and drink from that country at their house.  Then when we were done at one house, we would bike to the next.  We only had four people turn out to do it, but it was still a good time.

First we had French at Jessica's house.  We had baguette, brie, foie gras, and champagne.

Next we had German at Alena's.  She made German potato salad and we had about three shots of J├Ągermeister (which did not make the picture.)  Alena...just so you know, Grolsch is not German, sorry...

After that, Matt was an overachiever and picked the whole continent of North America.  We had Ceviche and tequila.  The homemade ceviche was pretty good.  After about three shots we headed to the last country.

I picked Sweden and had salmon, cheese, flat bread, and Swedish cookie along with Swedish beer.  Ended up being not too bad, it was all from IKEA.  Next time we have this I hope to have time to actually cook something.

All together this was pretty cool (probably because I always like to eat.)  But hopefully we do this again every so often.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Livemocha


I love Livemocha!

I signed up for Livemocha a couple weeks ago and have been hooked for a long time.  Livemocha is an online community where you not only learn a language, but you help people learn the languages that you already know.  Here is how it works:
  • First, you get a lesson about something in the language that you want to learn.
  • Next you get a quiz on the things you just learned.
  • Now is when the cool part comes...You are given a task that you have to write about from what you just learned.  Usually the tasks are really simple, but I try to make them harder so I can get some good feedback.
    • You submit this task and then it is send to native Dutch (or whatever language you are learning) speakers to correct for you.
  • Next pops up a box where you correct someone who is learning English (or whatever language you speak)
  • After that, you are given a paragraph to read out loud and then that (which is recorded into the computer) is sent to a native person of that language.
  • Finally, you get one more thing to correct in your own language.
  • Then the process starts again with the next lesson.
I love it!  People on here are genuinely really nice and want to help you.  I've met a lot of people who have taken a lot of time to help me...it is unbelievable how much time they will take to help a stranger.  I even like checking the English ones and spend some time helping these people as well.

Some examples of how people have helped me are:
  • Correcting my grammar/spelling
    • I can use someone for that in English too, but I'm sure you already know that if you read this blog...
  • Recording audio to help me to get the sounds right or recording audio on an all text exercise just to show me what if should sound like.
  • I've had multiple people send me messages saying they would be willing to help me as well, just ask.
  • And just tonight I had a someone who teaches Dutch IM me and we typed in Dutch for a while.  He even offered to help me on Skype and have an actual conversation.
If anyone else out there is trying to learn a language, I would highly recommend this site.  It is just...awesome!

I should say though that the lessons themselves are pretty simple.  I get the most value from the interaction with the people on the site.  I apply the things I already know to the lessons, then get corrected, and learn a lot from the corrections.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dutch News...the Whole Way in....

Today Kris drove to work and decided to listen to the news on the radio.  The whole way into work, I just got more and more depressed.  I still can't understand the news.  It is so frustrating to have him there listening right next to me while I am sitting there trying and trying to figure out what is going on.  Then when a story comes on that he thinks I would find interesting, he has to translate it for me.  It is nice of him to do that for me, but...it really makes me feel like a little kid.  Man...I spend every night studying this fucking language and I still can't understand a fucking newscast.  It's not like it is some kind of scientific topic that is way over my head...

I really don't know what to do anymore.  I feel great when I am at home and practicing, I'm in a good mood, I feel like I am learning, and I enjoy it, (this is why I am doing it all the time.)  Then, it never fails, I get out into the real world and can't function.  I just don't know what to do.  The only other person who I know that is not Dutch and learned it is Kris.  I tried to ask him before a couple of times what he did to learn and he said he did not really do anything at home, just asked people at work questions.  This makes me feel extremely stupid.  Here I am spending hours every day, day in and day out on this and then there is Kris that didn't really study but can understand everything and communicate, not perfectly, but pretty damn well.

It almost makes me mad at him, but I'm not, it's just a feeling I start to get when I am thinking about this stuff.  It is not his fault that he is good at this and I suck.  I really wish I could be like him and just have it come to me without much effort, that would be so nice.  Now I'm starting to wonder if I will ever get there or if it is even worth it...this is putting me through so much stress and probably taking years away from my life.  The one and only thing that keeps me going is imagining how good it will feel one day to actually have accomplished this.  But, until then...haaaaaa....I just hope I make it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Well today is the day that my Dutch classes start.  In about 2 more hours I will finally be there.  I should be really excited, but I must say that all day I have been really nervous.  I have been wanting classes for so long, and now they are finally here.  I have literally tried everything else I can think of and now this is the last thing.  But, what if this doesn't work?  What if I take these classes and come out still not being able to converse with people?  I have these terrible visions in my head that all we are going to be learning is the stupid stuff like "Hi my name is Nick." or "How do I get to Amsterdam?"

Another thing that kinda topped things off today was that I found out from a Dutch woman who was correcting one of my exercises for livemocha told me that "ontmoeten" is only used when you are first meeting someone, not when you are meeting them next, for example "want to meet at 7?"  This is a word that I use all the time with a lot of people and I just can't believe that not one person could take 5 seconds to correct me...how embarrassing that I've been using this wrong word for so long.  I understand that people should not have to help me learn Dutch all the time, but man...come on...

I just hope these classes are good and they put me over the hump.  It is really nice to hear people telling me that they think I am doing good, and I do appreciate it when they do, but...usually they are telling me this in English...so how good can I possibly be?  I just wish there was a date or s time that I could look forward to and know that by this time, I may not be perfect, but I can be at a point where I am comfortable with myself.  This brings me to another point, I really need to have more confidence.  Not with just Dutch, but with life in general...my confidence level for pretty much everything is 0.  I never look at the list of good things in my life or the things that I already know...usually I just consider this to be trivial (and most of the time it is not.)  I really should be proud of myself for where I am at today both in life and with Dutch, but I just can't be.  Is there something wrong with me that I can't see the good that I've done and take pride in myself.  This is something I really need to work on but I'm not even sure where to begin with that, I would basically have to change my whole mindset.

Haaaa, and here we are at yet again another one of these posts that I know everyone hates to read.  Blaaaaah, I know.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that these lessons are really going to pay off.  Thank you so much for listening, even though I hardly ever get comments anymore, it's nice to know that people are listening...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Appartment



Been wanting to make this video for a while now, so without further ado, here is my apartment.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Energy Syrup

Yes, I bought energy syrup today. Mix on part with seven parts water
and...presto you have an energy drink!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

De Tandarts!


Some good news from yesterday.  As you saw from my last post, I was pretty upset about all of this Dutch crap, but I have some good news now at least.  I went to the dentist yesterday and did the whole thing from answering questions about what I've been doing to listening to what the hygienist said and making my next appointment helemaal in het Nederlands!  It was pretty crazy.  I walked in and the receptionist of course starting in Dutch so I responded...easy so far, no big deal.  Then the hygienist and started in Dutch...she new from last time that I was there I spoke English, but I thought...hmmm, let's go for it and see what happens.  After about 2-3 minutes, I was thinking wow, no English yet.  Then about 1/2 way though I was getting pretty psched and when it was almost over I was really hoping I would not have to switch to English since I did so good, and...I didn't have to!  I walked out of the office and literally said out loud "Oh my God..."

The song above is a funny Dutch song by the way it is called "Het is altijd Lente in de Ogen van de Tandarts Assistente."  It means It is always Springtime in the eye's of the dentist's assistant.  Haha

Some other things...

I got a good number of compliments at meetup last night by a woman who lived in the Netherlands for 30 years, a native Dutch woman (She even told me I did not sound American,) and an American dude who's Dutch was pretty good.  I was pretty happy  about that too.

Then today at work someone at work came up to me and said that HR was talking about me to him.  I was like WTF?  Why?  Well I sent HR and email a few weeks ago (in Dutch) and apparently they were impressed and are telling people about it now.  That was cool to hear, but at the same time, the guy told me all of this in English, so... I don't know

Finally a girl last night at meetup (who was only 3 weeks in Holland) told me about livemocha.com.  It is so cool and I am already addicted.  You can basically learn any language you want while helping people learn the language(s) you already know.  They teach you things, then test you on them.  After that you have a writing exercise that gets (almost immediately) review by real Dutch people.  Then you review someones English submission.  After that you speak a paragraph that they give you, and submit it, again almost instant feedback.  Then finally you review someone's English submission.  After that you can move on to the next lesson.  It is really great.

Also, I almost forgot, I got into the Dutch classes here in Haarlem.  I start already on Monday!  I was too late to take the intake test (they were last week) to see what group I should be in, but they said that the teacher should be able to figure it out of me next week.  I am looking forward to this but am going to be a bit reluctant to get too excited.  So far every time I get really excited about a new learning tool in Dutch, I expect magic and that never happens.  I am just going to go to the classes, hope for the best, and see what happens.  Wish me luck!