Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Netherlands Adventures: Day 11-16

This last week has been one of my favorites since I have been here. Call me a nerd but I was excited to spend a lot of our class time asking questions and learning about cultural differences. We had a panel where we could ask experts on questions of our choice. Given the fact that they were mostly business men and historians we gave them a run for their money with our sex and family life questions. 

Wednesday of this week we travelled to Belgium and spent the night in Brussels. I have a thing for old pretty buildings so my hatred of walking in the rain was over run by the abundance of pretty buildings. Along with sight seeing and shopping, I got to check 'eating Belgian waffles in Belgium' off my bucket list which will forever be in my top ten moments of the trip. 

One of my favorite parts of the trip to Brussels was seeing the doors of the French Embassy, just days after the attack in Paris, filled with flowers passing on condolences. There is something about being in the place as history is happening and hearing more than just the medias take on it that strikes a chord in me. 

I also got to see the outside of US embassy, however I was NOT allowed to take a picture. A fact I learned the hard way, after a professor told us to snap a picture I thought 'great idea' and pulled out my phone. I was immediately scolded by a guard. He went as far as checking my phone to assure I did not get a picture and joked that he would have to call the police. My friend and I went back the next day to ask if our U.S. Passport would allow us a look around. Not surprisingly, we were turned away. 

On Thursday we had to pair up and ask perfect strangers a question about European culture. I automatically became an introvert and was absolutely terrified to initiate conversation. Most of the day was spent saying "should we ask them?" We got through it but it was definitely a new experience feeling shy!   

Friday and today I have been staying at my hosts home with two other roommates and her family. She said she was nervous that I would not like it but it has been a really great time. We watched movies and ate entirely too much food, so it was a typical weekend for me. We spent yesterday baking. Well mostly they baked, I took pictures and ate the cookies. They made me try 'typical Dutch' things such as Bitter Bal (a weird meet ball thing), Drop (salty licorice), and Kruukpleatjes (cookies you make on a skillet). 

We came to the conclusion that our communication has been like a game of charades. They say "how do you call this in English" and give clues until I figure it out and then we all celebrate. We also have a lot of fun laughing at each other when they try to explain what they mean. My favorite was "spider house" to describe "spider web". The language barrier can be frustrating but google translate and a good sense of humor always helps. 

Today my hosts whole family came over and we all had lunch. I was unable to win over her adorable nieces since I do not speak Dutch- I think that may be the first time a child did not like me! We finished off the meal by them filming me trying to learn Dutch words. I'm just gonna say, I don't think Dutch is going to become my second language anytime soon. I put up with the teasing though because they have been speaking English for me all month!

We went to church this evening, which was interesting. I had to wear a hat, a skirt and sit still the whole time. They spoke Dutch, so I couldn't tell you what the sermon was about if I tried- it was most certainly a new experience!

Tomorrow starts our last week here. I am without a doubt having the time of my life but I am beginning to get a bit of homesickness. I will be excited to touch down in PA but I am excited to see what this next week brings. My hosts and I are not looking forward to saying goodbye to each other so that will not be fun at all. This experience has been so great and my heart has grown so much with so many new relationships. I cannot believe it's going so fast!

I am sure I am missing something in here but we have a 7:30 am train to catch back to school in the morning so this will have to do! 


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