Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hanging Out in The Netherlands

Yesterday and today have been extremely cold. Snow is still on the ground because the temperature is so low. The good news is that the sun has been shining brightly for two days! I usually walk to the Rewe (grocery store) but today, admittedly, I drove. I was completely bundled up, just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. Despite all of my layers, my hands felt as if they were going to fall off and my face was almost frozen by the time I made it back to my car. I am definitely unaccustomed to frigid weather.

We have been spending a lot of time in Maastricht and I think I might actually be picking up some Dutch. We were given a Dutch phrasebook as a Christmas gift and it's very useful to consult for translations regarding food and numbers. To my untrained ear, Dutch is a humorous language. It sounds a little Dr. Suess-ish. I've learned how to say thank you by listening to others. It's very cheerful and sounds something like this: donkey-veil. Blanche, my GPS, is always funny when she pronounces the names of roads. In her breathy, Southern drawl she says things like, "Turn left on Boom-boo-key-vegg."

In my experience so far, I've found most Dutch would rather speak English to me rather than me attempting to speak Dutch to them. I've heard so many people here switch from Dutch to German to English. It's mind-blowing. I feel lucky because English is my first language but I also wish I had several languages on the tip of my tongue.

I've seen two movies here and the theater is very nice! I was surprised to find that popcorn and drinks are reasonably-priced. This is a welcome difference from a night at the movies in the U.S., where you might as well skip dinner beforehand since snacks at the theater cost nearly as much as a nice meal at a restaurant. Another fun difference is the selection of beer and wine! There is also an intermission, no matter the length of the movie. I was confused by this the first time it happened. When the lights brightened and the movie stopped, I thought something was wrong with the film reel.

We watched Mission Impossible III (not my choice) a couple weekends ago and encountered an interesting dilemma. The movie was filmed in English, of course, and there were Dutch subtitles. Everything was fine until characters began speaking Russian. We missed some crucial parts of the plot because all we heard was Russian and all we read was Dutch. That's a strange problem to have. But then something really great happened. The movie setting shifted to Prague and I thought, "Wow, it would be great to actually go there." Then I remembered I'm living in Europe and one day soon I will be able to visit Prague!

I'm getting very excited about Karneval! We've received some great suggestions about the best cities to go to and the most entertaining parades to see. Karneval was one of the first things I investigated when I found out we were moving here so I've been looking forward to it for a long time. I'm sure it will live up to everything I've imagined.

Until then, I'll be braving the cold and brushing up on my Dutch! Donkey-veil!

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