Sunday, August 28, 2011

Many Meetings

Hello all,

As might be expected for a first week abroad, so much has happened that there's no way I'll be able to summarize all of it. I'll try, however, to capture at least some of it in words. So here's my week, compressed, shrink-wrapped, and ready to read at your convenience.

Every year, all of the small villages in the Netherlands, or at least this region, have what are called kermis-pronounced kairamiss, which is a party-festival for the entire village (which are super, super tiny, as in a single street sometimes). One of the villages surrounding the town I'm in had there´s this weekend, and on Friday night everyone plays a card game called Klaverjassen. My host brother Thomas invited me, so I spent a good portion of the week learning how to play, with Truus and Piet, and also with Thomas' friends. Friday night we went to the kermis, and managed to not get last place.

Cards aside, I did a lot of running around, seeing new things and such- Thomas and Peter both gave me tours of different parts of the town, on Tuesday Truus and I went to the beach where Siemon works, and on Thursday Thomas and I went to Amsterdam to get papers filed, then walked around the touristy part which was fun. Friday was the kermis, and then yesterday night Siemon's friends came over, so I met them. Everyone's been really welcoming and helpful, despite the fact that I can´t actually remember their names. Or pronounce them.

I've been continuing to attack my Dutch, with both my giant book thing from AFS (which is annoyingly formulated but still helpful), and of course just by listening. Peter has also been helping me learn the names of household objects- I've got most of the kitchen stuff and utensils down now, except the articles are impossible to remember- unlike french there is no rule..

That's about all, I've also been doing a good deal of math so that if they ask me to do anything at school I won't have forgotten it all, plus I can't get Calculus here (probably). I've also been playing violin, as per usual. I'm trying out two different violin teachers in a few weeks, one in town, and another that's a ways by train, so hopefully one of them will work out.

Friday I have a meeting at the school, I'm in a subject track that isn't geared for math people, so hopefully I can worm my way into the mathy-sciency one. They have all had 3 years of what they call chemistry here already, so the school says I can't, but I have a feeling I might have actually already done a lot of it- my host brother gave me some example problems and it was no issue. Of course there's the language barrier, but that will go away as the year progresses. We'll see, it's all up in the air right now.

Anyways, I´ll keep you all posted on what´s happening.

I´m doing well, hope you all are too.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Concerning Comments

Hi everyone,

Just a quick post concerning commenting, which I think people have been having issues with.

You do need either a google account or a livejournal, wordpress, typepad, or some others. If you have one of these, click on that one on the scroll down bar by the comment as' part. It will ask you to log in, then it will post your comment. If you do not have one of these, by no means are you required to get one, but if you want, I'd recommend getting a google account, since they are useful. Simply go to, click on the 'create an account' button, and fill in the required information, then you should be good to go!

I hope this helps. While I don't have time to individually respond to everyone, I appreciate your comments, and am having a good time over here. I'll have an actual post up this weekend.

And unfortunately I was a tad hasty in saying I can do silks, there are some time conflicts and such, so we'll see. I'm crossing my fingers, but worst comes to worst I'll just have to do lots and lots of conditioning at home.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Out the Door

Hello all,

I'm using a strange keyboard (meaning it's shaped weird, but the keys aren't in different spots), so you're going to have to excuse any eminent typos. I do proof, but I'm also time-limited.

So! What to say.

I left on the 16th, almost a week ago, but have only been in the Netherlands since Friday afternoon due to an orientation in NY that was more waiting than orienting, but was really fun because I got to meet everyone going to Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. There were eight of us going to the Netherlands, two more are coming later because they haven't been placed in families yet. Norway had a ton of people, but Iceland only two, they limit the number of people who can apply. But it was fun, and the flight long, especially because it was delayed. But now I'm hear, and it's amazing. 

AFS describes exchanges as roller coasters in one of their many many metaphors, so right now I would be at the very top of one. I'm hoping my ride is one of those nice kiddy ones (the non-rickety type, mind you), and so far, that's what it seems like. My host family is awesome, and very helpful. Yesterday my host brother Peter showed me around the town; how to get to school and also around the centrum, or town center. It's a beautiful, beautiful city. He also showed me the best ice cream shop, which is either a very good thing or a very bad thing. I have a giant packet of Dutch from AFS, and my host mom Truus has been working on it with me every day, which is very kind of her. Also, today, her and I biked around town and the out skirting villages, which was incredible. It is in every way European, with more bikes than cars, and I saw a bunch of swans in the canal by the road.  And a couple of foals and horses, munching on grass. It was very warm today, but in other parts of the Netherlands there are thunderstorms, so we're lucky.

As you may have surmised from above, I now have a bike. There was a drawing based on your zip code for bikes here, and my bike is a result of said drawing, so I didn't have to pay for it. It doesn't have hand brakes, just the back-pedaling sort, so that will take time to get used to.

Some other good news is that I will maybe be able to do silks while here- my host family found a town somewhat close to us that has classes, so I'll try it out, maybe next week.

Other than that, I don't have much to say except I'm having a great time, and my Dutch is progressing, if slowly.

Love to all,


Monday, August 15, 2011

Almost there!


It's the night before I leave, and I am almost finished packing- meaning I have another load of laundry drying downstairs, and all of my toiletries, and maybe to say 'almost finished' is stretching it a bit. "Will be finished by tomorrow" is a better way to put it, I suppose. Good news though: so far I'm under the abysmal weight limit, hopefully it will remain that way after I put in my winter coat. Knocks on wood.

I have had a fantastic last weekend in the US, as I was able to a good portion of the people I wanted to see before I left on Saturday. My virtual twin Mackenzie returned from her six-week sojourn in England on Sunday, so we've spent most of our waking hours together, and surprisingly haven't broken anything or maimed anyone on accident.

All in all, my stomach butterflies/elephants aside, I'm ready to leave tomorrow, and I fly in to the Netherlands in a few days after a national orientation and a good deal of waiting around that I'd rather not think about.

Tot ziens,


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Preparations and Anticipations

Hoi iedereen,

If you've ever done aerial acrobatics, especially rope or silks, you would know the pre-falling sensation before a drop that's somewhere between "Why am I doing this again?," and the realization that you're capable of doing this without dying and why wouldn't you be up fifteen feet in the air, hanging by your ankles? Add in about a gallon of excitement and anticipatory stomach butterflies, and that's about what I'm feeling right now as I prepare to leave. 

Granted, this is a terrible metaphor as (most) of my friends and family have never done aerial acrobatics, and I don't actually know of any drops that start out with you hanging by your ankles. Oh well, at least I haven't quoted Tolkien yet. 

Today being the 7th of August, I leave in approximately 9 days. My suitcase is somewhat packed, and I have some weight left- hopefully enough that I won't have to wear my heavy winter coat on the plane. I'm not all the way ready, but it's starting to feel more and more like it.  

Last week I got back from an excellent visit to my family in California, where I had a great time, though the train ride back got mixed reviews, as I was placed next to a man who reeked of cigarettes for the second half. But I survived to live the tale, so no worries!

I also said goodbye to my amazing cousin Zane (he's ten), who was going down to California directly after me to visit said relatives. I'm not sure who said that the packing is the hardest part of leaving, but I say that goodbyes are worse. I'm going to miss him a lot, but there's always email, and we spent an excellent evening running around shooting each other with imaginary guns before he left. 

Next week is, among other things, my last week of circus class before I leave, which will also be hard. But for all of the things I'm already anticipating I'll miss and will loose by being away, there's going to be so much more that I'm going to gain, I think, and that's what's really important. 

Also, my host family has a bike for me when I get there, which means I don't have to buy one. Hooray for money saved!

I hope to see many of you who are reading this in the following week, thank you to all (well, all three of you) for the comments! 

And on that note; Nitwit, Blubber, Oddment, Tweak. For those of you who don't know what I mean, I suggest reading Harry Potter approximately eight times. Or twelve if you feel like it. :-)