Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fran├žais!? Whaaaat???

So, the other night right after I got back from France, I decided that I wanted to learn French!  I am going to be there a lot over the next few months and would like to at least be able to communicate a little bit in French.  And...I already started learning it!  I know, I know, "But Nick, you're learning Dutch now, I thought you didn't want to learn two languages at once, and what about Italian?"

Yes these are all true points, but still none the less, let me address those:
  1. Yes I am still learning Dutch and I said that I don't want to learn two languages at once, but, if you keep putting things off, you are never going to do them.  And besides, I can communicate pretty okay in Dutch now.  It is by no means perfect, but some days, I am actually satisfied with myself now...some days! ;)
  2. Italian, yes, I think it is a really cool language and would love to learn it, but right now, French is more important and useful to me at the moment.  I will not say that I don't want to learn Italian, I'm just saying I will put it off for a bit.  But even with that said, I'm going to Italy now in September so it would be nice/polite to learn a bit before going.
But ya, French is crazy so far, there are so many strange things that can happen to words like how they combine with another or have silent letters and all this other stuff, but you know what?  That's okay I'll figure it out.  And, unlike Dutch, I really don't care to really good at French.  I don't live in France so this will be something that I am going to do when I have time and when I feel like it, no pressure!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crazy Two Weeks

The past two weeks was a big project in Amsterdam and Paris to get new equipment installed in the data centers.  There were three guys who came over from the US and I was pretty much the only person from Europe who helped for the most part.

First we started in Amsterdam.  The first day was crazy.  There was a ton to do at the site and a bunch of other issues to manage that was going in with AT&T in Paris.  By the end of the day, my phone was totally dead and I had had it with Global Switch and AT&T, they were really pissing me off.
The rest of the week we remained in Amsterdam trying to get everything worked out which luckily we did.  I will spare you all the details but trust me they were long days.

Last weekend was the PPG Tennis tournament.  It is a tennis tournament held every year for people who work for PPG in Holland.  Basically you pick a skill level for yourself and you get put into four random games with people you may or may not know.  It is a great way to get to meet people.  One person is your partner and the other two are your opponents.  The whole day there are free drinks and a BBQ lunch.  I ended up winning one game (against Kris! :-) ) loosing two games, and tying the last.  It was a nice time.

The next day I hopped the train to Paris, it was going to be another week of getting things setup there like we just did in Amsterdam.  I met the guys when I got there and took them into Paris.  They did not like it all that much so we did not stay for very long, after that, we never went back into the city (while they were there)
My favorite part every time about going to France is eating.  This time, I found a great little bakery not for from the data center that had fresh sandwiches and pastries.  I went there almost every day for lunch...great!
We ended up getting done a bit early so the guys changed their flight and went home early, none of them really seamed to be big fans of Europe.  Me, I stayed because I did not want to change my ticket and I like France.

Wednesday I took the train and worked in the not far off PPG office in Rueil-Malmaison, France.  After that went back to my hotel and was getting ready to go into Paris.  I though why not just check to see if the Louvre would be opened.  And guess what?  It was!  Wednesday is the only evening that it is open and it was Wednesday!  Cool!  I got there not long after and bought my ticket, the place was beautiful and huge.  There was all kinds of famous paintings, but the coolest of all was seeing the Mona Lisa!  Wow!

The next day it was back to the data center to finish up then catch my train back to Amsterdam.  On the train.  It was a very busy two weeks, but it was nice to be busy for a change, things have been moving so slowly at work and this was a nice change of pace.  After I got back, I was glad to hear people speaking in Dutch again so I could understand what was going on around me...I still don't know any French, but I think I'm really going to have to learn with having to go there so much.  One other strange thing is when I hear people speaking in French, my brain automatically starts thinking in Dutch!  Is that weird?  Then I would think to myself, these people are not going to understand Dutch!

Looks like I will probably be in Paris again in two weeks, then again in August, and probably again in October.  I don't mind though because Paris is pretty cool.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's not all fun and games

A couple of things have been on my mind lately.  So, why not talk about them here.

First of all, I haven't talked about Dutch on here for a while, so I thought I'd give an update.  I had my test from my class on Monday and Wednesday this past week.  I did not think it was too bad, and my teacher then asked me if I wanted to go to B1 or B2 in September.  (I am in A2 now and B1 would be the next class in order.)  Since I thought that A2 was pretty easy, I told him that I wanted to try B2.  He checked my scores and I was okay in reading, but was 1 point under the cutoff in both writing and listening. He said that he thought it would be okay anyway so he is going to recommend me to go to B2.  That was cool news but at the same time, I wish that I actually made the cutoff myself.
Secondly, I am starting to feel a bit more confident in using Dutch and people are starting to notice that I can use it which is exciting, but at the same time frustrating.  There is still so much farther to go.  Everyone tells me that I am learning fast, but in my mind I feel like I will never be comfortable with myself.  I want to be to the point where I can be comfortable with myself in all situations and not have to plan things out in my head or be nervous in any way.
Overall I can see that it is coming along, and I am happy about that but I really could use some motivation and direction in this area.

So far, this summer is not really turning out to be like last summer.  Last summer there was non-stop fun every day.  The whole time was planned with things to do or if there was no plans, impromptu nights out and crazy times that were not expected.  This year is different.  I've had some good times, don't get me wrong, but they are further spaced out.  Last year I had only a few days where I had nothing going on and this year the number is rising.  I know it's on me to make the best out of things, but all of a sudden I feel like I've lost two of my best friends here.  It's kinda been bumming me out and I guess I just need to look past this and make the best of things.  I still have a separate group of friends here that I can always count on for a good time.  And who knows, maybe this is a good opportunity to meet some new people as well.

Work is going okay.  It has been really slow so far this year, but I'm looking forward to things this month.  There is going to be a lot of activity in the European data centers and I will be involved with it all.  I really wish my work could be a bit more spread out, ether I have a ton of stuff to do all at once or I have nothing to do at all.  For me, I like to be busy all the time.  At least I know that for the next month (and probably a little beyond) I will be very busy, and that is a good thing.  I don't like sitting around at work and I don't like sitting around at home, I am always happy when I have something to do and something going on.

Other than this, not much new going on.  Hope to have some more exciting news soon.