Monday, September 27, 2010

This week has been pretty amazing. I have officially been in the Netherlands 1 month. Of course there are good days and bad days, but so far I really haven't hit any really bad homesickness - hopefully it stays that way! The language is coming along slowly... Some days, I feel like I won't ever possibly understand what everyone is talking about, but other days I feel like when people speak slowly, I understand about 40% of what they say... I think it all depends on how fast my brain feels like working that day! I understand way more words when people talk to me than what I can speak if I am trying to respond.

Kids at school have been, for the most part, totally welcoming and very nice to me. My class has only 15 students in it, so they are all quite close with one another - it's cool to be able to see them all interact with eachother. They're really different people, but as far as I can tell they're not as worried about "cliques" as kids in Canadian highschools are. I've made a couple of really great friends already. The teachers are mostly nice to me too, especially my History teacher, who found me a book in english that covers what the class is doing now (it's so helpful when I'm trying to follow along in class!)

Last week, I went with my friend Liza to her old elementary school on what I think was something like "PTA" night, all the parents of kids who went there went on a tour of the school, and Liza and I tagged along too, so I could see what a dutch elementary school was like. It was pretty similar to a Canadian elementary school, but if I were back in 2nd grade, I would be so jealous of the kids who get to play on this playground! It was huge! And all the classrooms were decorated with art projects and stuff... very cool. Their gym was tiny, but they had a climbing apparatus and so many nice toys, it made me almost wish I was 7 again so I could play!

Then on friday night, Liza, a friend of hers, and I went to a horse show in Belgium together. The show was called "Zangershiede", and although I'm not really sure, I think it was kind of a big deal in the horse world. Liza knows lots about jumping, and there were some really famous jumpers there. There was even a Canadian competing.It was really cool to go to a big show like that! Totally different from a rodeo. :)

Saturday, my host mother took me on a trip to a park called "Drielandenpunt" which is where the borders of Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium all connect. I managed to stand in 3 countries at one time! We went up in a viewing tower, then we went on a really nice walk through the woods, where we found some of my host mom's favorite mushrooms. She really likes hunting for mushrooms, and we found almost a dosen of her favorites, so that day was a good one!

Sunday, my host grandparents came over, and we all had a yummy meal together. We were talking after dinner and somehow Saskatchewan came up, and I realised how funny Canadian place names are. I mean, really : Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Nunavut, Banff?

Makes city names here, like "Esloo", and "Heer" seem more normal

Speaking of "Heer"..... Today I decided to try biking to Maastricht all by myself for the first time. It was really amazing, being able to just walk around in the city and check stuff out by myself. It went really really well, I shopped a bit and was able to deal with all the cashiers in Dutch, and park my bike in the underground bike lot, and more importantly FIND my bike in the underground bike lot afterwards - I was feeling pretty good by the time I had to go home. Then, on the bike back, I took a wrong turn somewhere, and 15 minutes later I was in a little town I had never seen before. It took another 5 minutes of scouting around to determine that this strange town was "Heer". Now, at this point, I was thinking about maybe calling my host family for directions home, but as I thought of it, I pictured the conversation going like this:

Me : Hi, I think I'm lost, could I get directions home?

Host: Sure, where are you?

Me: Heer.

Host:.... well, yes of course you're there, but do you know where you are?

Me: I'm pretty sure I'm just in Heer?

Host: In where? Are you in a building or something?

... and so on ... silly place names!!

So I just decided to turn around, go back to the modern art museum in Maastricht, and then start biking home from there. The second time, I made it! And, I finally got around to writing a decent blog post! So all in all, today was a very successful day.

'till next time,



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Rotary Meeting!

Tonight I had my first rotary meeting with my host club.
This post is for anyone reading from my home rotary club :) Of course, if you're not from rotary, you're still allowed to read it!

We met in a castle! It was very cool.

Everyone was very friendly, and several people offered to take me with them on a trip or to their workplace. Yay for Rotarians! :) Tonight I was invited to : A trip to Brussels, to learn about the European Parliament, visit a small animal veterinary clinic, visit an institution for helping people with mental health problems, meet a rotarian's daughter, and have dinner with my host councillor. (I feel like I am forgetting something)

I exchanged banners with the president of the club, and told the story of why Medicine Hat is called "Medicine Hat". I also introduced myself to the club, and was able to speak with my host councillor. We're going to meet again on Saturday to get to know one another better.

The Esloo-Maaskant Rotary club has roughly 30 members, most of which are older men, but the club does also include women. It started around 1990. Tonight was a dinner meeting, and we all sat around tables that were pushed together to make one big rectangle. Everyone at the table had an opportunity to tell a story, or share some news at some point during the meeting. ( I think... It was hard to tell exactly what they were talking about )

I haven't made my Canada presentation yet, but I'll work out a time with the club to do that. Lots of people were interested in hearing more about Canada, so it'll be great to answer some of their questions!

In other news, some blog posts about school, friends, and more pictures are in the works! Sorry about the wait, it turns out I'm not a very motivated blogger.

'till next time,