Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vacations, Violin, and Rubik's Cubes

Hi everyone, 

As strange as it seems to say, I have a week of vacation right now. Apparently after six weeks of school, Dutch people need a week off. Not that I'm complaining, because vacation is always nice and I've been somewhat under the weather lately, so extra sleep will be nice. 

Overall, the last few weeks have been pretty boring to be honest, so this probably won't be that interesting of a post. I finished up with one of the orchestras I had been doing last week, which was fun. We got to play with Birthe Blom, who is a well known violinist here. Most of the concert was played by a regional amateur orchestra, I only played in the accompaniment, so listened to the others for the rest of the time. The second concert I ended up practicing violin/ playing random music with another girl who was only playing in the accompaniment, which was a lot more fun than listening to the concert again (the orchestra was JO level, which isn't to say bad, but not amazing either). 

Apart from that, nothing particularly dramatic has happened. I'm still happy with my host-family, though it's strange to think that I've now been with them the same amount of time I was with my old one. I'm happy though, and honestly no drama, albeit less interesting, is preferable, I'd much rather stay happy thanks! 

So, there's been no drama. I don't do much that's that interesting really; I baked white chocolate oatmeal cookies yesterday, which were tasty but I'm not sure if I would make them again either. I finally read Sense and Sensibility last weekend, so now have at least read (and enjoyed!) one Jane Austin book. 

Last weekend (I think it was last weekend?) I figured out how to solve my host-sisters 4x4 Rubiks cube, without directions! Now I'm working on her 5x5; I have all the middles and all but three of the side edges/wings. Assuming I can get the last three I can solve it the same as a 3x3 I think (with maybe a few extra steps). So this is the hardest step. It was a pain with the 4x4 too, then I did something and it fixed itself- problem is I can't figure out what, and Lida has the cube so I can't check and then use the similar move on the 5x5. Hopefully it'll work out though. 

I realize that last paragraph probably holds absolutely no meaning for anyone who can't solve Rubik's cubes. As far as I can figure out, the technique for solving bigger than 3x3 cubes is to make them look like 3x3's. So you solve the centers, then the outside edges, so then you just have a strangely proportioned mixed up 3x3, then you can solve that like you would a normal cube. Savy? 

It's actually kind of funny about the cubes- I brought my 3x3 and somehow it came up in a conversation and I ended up teaching my host sister Lida (who's the oldest of my host-sisters) how to solve it. Her boyfriend (who is from Limburg so has a hilarious accent) got her one for Christmas, and then a 4x4 and a 5x5 for Valentine's, and she brought them home to work on last weekend, and left the 5x5 with me to figure out until she gets back. Anyways, it's fun. I think at least half the family thinks we're crazy, but my youngest host sister's learning how to solve the 3x3 now.. I woke up this morning, and first thing had to explain the next step to her (something that was difficult given my being half asleep still).

Tomorrow I'm going to another foreign exchange student's house and we're going to go to an international market, which means I get to buy real baking soda! And who knows what other yummy food! I'm excited. Monday we're going shopping in Amsterdam as well, which should be fun. 

That's about it really. The computer tried to delete this blog post earlier, which would have been very annoying, except then the computer unfroze and it didn't delete! But apart from computer almost-fails, my day has been uneventful apart from writing this, and folding lots of paper stars (I located an empty canning sort of jar that had peanut butter in it, and decided to store pens in it, but thought I would fill it with paper stars as well, so as to be pretty.I'm terrible at making them though, so there have been lots of squished rejects). 

I should probably get back to that then! 

Missing you all!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Skating

It would appear that the significant prodding from my mother I referred to in my last entry has not let up with another month gone by in which I haven't seen her. Apparently I haven't been updating my blog enough, which granted would be an accurate statement if I was sure people actually read this.

For those who are, if you're out there, I hope it wasn't overly distressing not to hear from me, as I probably would have posted something along the lines of "Today I went to school. Then I practiced violin. Then I did homework. Then I drank a cup of tea. Then I went to bed, and then I got up at the ungodly early hour of 8 (haha IHS early-starters) then I....). 

Fallen asleep yet? I thought so.

That said, my life is at least sort of interesting, though not particularly dramatic. I'm very happy, crazy as ever, but enjoying my time in the Netherlands. My host family is insane (jij ook Lida) but awesome. 

It's been really cold here lately; last Friday it snowed, and it's stuck for the last four days. It hasn't been over freezing either, so the canals are frozen enough to go skating on. Sunday I went ice-skating for the first time in years, and I have to say, skating on a canal, with sheep watching you in a field nearby, and snow everywhere is a thousand times more fun than skating in a rink and listening to really bad music. I've completely lost any skill I had at one point, and struggle to turn corners (I can't cross over at speeds over 1 mile per hour), but it's amazing. And I still haven't fallen, which is pretty impressive considering. 

The only downside of the weather is that the train schedule's been completely ruined- tonight I should have gone to Amsterdam to circus, but the trains had too many issues, and Amsterdam's not somewhere you want to be stuck in at 11 pm, beautiful city or not. 

Life's pretty normal otherwise, school's school, violin's violin. I took a large Dutch test a few weeks ago, which was required by AFS. Friday I got my results, and am in the top 3- originally I was told I was first, but at least one girl (Sarah, who's awesome) got a higher score than me. I'm not particularly distressed though, because I still did very well, and AFS will pay for the IB Dutch test for me, assuming I can take it being 15.

That's pretty much it. My writing skills today are minimal, as you can probably tell, but I figured I'd write something before I forget to.