Ho. Lee. Crap.
I cannot believe it has been over TWO months since I last updated or wrote anything. I can’t even say that it’s because I’ve been so incredibly busy. Those of you that I talk to on a regular basis know that isn’t true. I have quite a bit of free time on my hands, due to the fact that I don’t have a work permit yet. I just kind of forgot about updating the site. Sorry!
I’m halfway through an intensive Dutch course, and I feel like I’m no closer to being able to speak Dutch than when I started. Marcel says this isn’t true, but I seriously freeze up when I try to speak it and end up just reverting back to English. I have my “midterm” on Thursday and Friday, and I don’t quite know how I feel about it. I’m not terrible with the grammar, but Dutch has so many weird little rules it’s hard to keep track. Not to mention all the weird little teeny tiny words whose meaning I can never quite grasp. Like nog, or wat, or nou, or er (seriously, I hate er). They’re stuck in between the weirdest places, and every time it means something different. Bah!
Aside from attempting to learn an incredibly difficult language, I’ve mostly been spending my days walking around the city, visiting different museums, reading, or watching tv. And watching tv here is kind of annoying because every English program has Dutch subtitles. And regardless of whether or not I can understand the language my eyes always shift to the subtitles. Oh! And I discovered something that’s really frustrating. Last Friday, Marcel and I went to the movies to watch “X-Men: Apocalypse” and early in the movie I realized, “Hold up, they’re not speaking English, I think it’s German? Where are the subti… Oh. They’re all in Dutch. Damnit.” So every time a character speaks a language other than English, the Dutch subtitles just replace what would normally be English subtitles for an American audience. Yeah I guess it makes sense or whatever, but I don’t know what anyone is saying! German language with Dutch subtitles?! *insert crying face emoji here* They also do this on tv shows. Marcel and I have started watching “Game of Thrones”, and last night we were watching an episode where there are several scenes spoken in the fictional Dothraki language… with only Dutch subtitles. Completely fictional made up language with Dutch subtitles?! *insert skull emoji here* It’s like a double whammy of incomprehension. And I can’t expect Marcel to translate rapid speech, as it’s being said, from just the subtitles, in a movie theatre. So it becomes an epic game of filling in the gaps based off the teeny tiny number of Dutch words I recognize, the context of the scene, and the subject matter. Like I said, super frustrating.
Other than that, I’ve just been prepping for my visa application. I have my appointment with the immigration department tomorrow at 10am! We have this huge packet of forms and documents and pictures and tickets and all that jazz to take with us tomorrow. Even though Marcel assures me it’ll be a walk in the park, I’m super nervous about it all. What if I get rejected, or deported??? Eek.
Oh man, this post is turning into a novel! I guess that’s what I get for having two months’ worth of stories to tell. Though I haven’t really told any stories, mostly just ranted on about random stuff. But I suppose that’s true to form, since my conversations tend to veer off course constantly. I should probably include some photos so that it’s not just a super boring wall of text, but I’ve hardly taken photos of anything. I haven’t taken a single photo with Marcel since DECEMBER! We’re just not picture people. I did go to some pretty neat places where I took some photos though.
Marcel’s parents took me to a really beautiful castle called Kasteel de Haar. It’s this ridiculously ornate Neo-Gothic castle that was renovated/rebuilt in the late 19th century. The original building dates back to the 14th century, but the building as it stands now was constructed beginning in 1892. This was never a royal castle, it belonged to a line of barons. Fun fact: if you visit any extravagant castle-like structure in the Netherlands, odds are it isn’t royal at all. The Dutch royals tend to be more moderate. I’ve been to two “castles”, both belonging to either (rather pompous, in my opinion) nobility or really rich Dutchies. I’ve also been to two royal palaces, which are still clearly made for, well, royals, but are more modest in their architecture and stylings. All four of them are beautiful and fascinating, but it’s interesting seeing the clear difference between those who know they’re rich and in charge, and those who want to look like they’re rich and in charge. It reminds me of the comparison in the States of say Hearst Castle versus the White House. Yes, the White House clearly looks like someone important resides there, but Hearst Castle is crazy elaborate and decorated so garishly that you almost want to give William Randolph Hearst a lollipop and say, “There there Willie. No of course people think you’re important. Yes you have a lot of money darling. Now go play with your newspaper.”
These are the two best shots I got of Kasteel de Haar.
This was taken at the botanic gardens of Utrecht University.
‘Til next time! Doei!