Monday, November 29, 2010

100 days

8,640,000 seconds.144,000 minutes, 2400 hours, 14 weeks, 3 months and a bit

I've been in the netherlands for 100 days now!
It's been one crazy rollercoaster, but I'm so thankful that I've had the chance to experience it- and there's so much left to come! I can't believe how far away August 22nd seems now - was it really only three months ago? So much has happened since then. Lots of new people are in my life, I've made some truly amazing friends, and my most frequent thought has gone from "umm what did you just say?" to "I totally understand that!"

I figured today would be a good day to tell you all what my november has been like. I'm at home from school today because I have a really bad cold - thank goodness for my mom sending me Advil cold&sinus to combat the misery!

Earlier this month there was a weekend in Den Haag where all the exchange students got together. Those weekends are always so much fun! We had a Sinterklaas celebration where we all drew names and then found a 5e gift for that person, and Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet came to visit us in the evening and hand out the gifts. I got Cindy, my friend from the USA, and we went shopping together, which was tricky and wound up with some really funny attepmts to distract her while I stealthily bought her gifts. Later in the weekend we all went to a bunch of museums, including the one where "The girl with the pearl earring" is. It was really cool to see that painting in real life! I kind of thought it would be bigger though, considering what a big deal people make of it. That museum had some other paintings that I thought were amazing, like a life size one of a cow. During the whole Den Haag weekend we (4 canadians, 2 americans) stayed with a wonderful host family. They had 8 year old twins, but they also had twin guinea pigs and twin cats! The kids (the parents too, actually) were tons of fun, and at the end of the weekend one of the twins drew a picture of everyone who stayed there.
This is her picture of me! I like it :) at the top, it says From Dieuwke ( her name) and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna keep it forever. When we all were leaving, the parents invited us to come back anytime we wanted to come see more of Den Haag. I think I'll take them up on that offer !

Ok, random story time! So November 11th, I am biking down to Maastricht to go buy something for school,minding my own buisness. la la la , bike bike bike... Then I stopped at a light (bike lanes have their own traffic lights!) and someone pulls up beside me and says "hi!" I look over - it's a dude in a tiger costume! hahah full face paint, tail and everything. I just said "um. hi!" back, and then kept biking.. but when I got to the city, there were people everywhere in costumes! Elves, cheerleaders, lots of tigers, I saw a koolaid man, and everyone had a beer (or 4) and a cigarette. It was crazy! I guess it was the opening of the carnival season, and so the whole downtown area was a big street party. There was a marching band, and lots of buskers in the streets, and so many amazing people in their bizarre costumes! I really wish I had brought my camera, but here's a pic to give you an idea of what it was like. You can see a person in a lion costume in the bottom left corner - the tiger costume was similar, but more stripey. Hahaha at first I thought, oh my goodness, someone please tell me this is not the way the dutch do rememberance day! But it is not, so no worries! Crazy crowded! but SO MUCH FUN! I'm lucky that I accidentally went on the right day. There is a full blown carnival in january or febuary I guess, this was just a warmup.
Another weekend in november I went to go visit Cindy. She actually lives within walking distance of my host councellor's house (where I will be living after January!) which is really cool. She also is next door to a castle. I'm not sure which of those two things is more awesome. But long story short, we had tons of fun together. When I move, we'll be going to the same school, which will be great!

Last week, I moved in with my current host family, who are really wonderful. They live in a great big house that's super close to my current school. The first weekend, I went on a 3 hour hike with Aggie ( my host mother ) and some of her friends, and then we all went out for dinner together afterwards. It was really fun! I learned that my Dutch is going better than I previously thought - I was able to understand almost all of what people were saying to me! YAY! Breakthrough! I still don't understand any of the local dialect though, which what most people speak when they are being informal.
Friday, I went with Aggie to go see my host councellor and meet the superintendant (or dutch equivalent, I didn't understand his title) of my new school. He explained my classes and gave me a tour of the school (it's huge!) and then we surprised Cindy in her class! She was helping out with the younger student's english class, which is something I'll get to do when I go to her school. Because Cindy and I both speak english as a first language and it's important to learn dutch, he made it clear that we are not to speak english to eachother when we are at school. I predict a lot of signlanguage and giggling. I am so excited to change schools! I really like my current school because I have lots of friends there, but I do think the administration have no idea what to do with an exchange student. My classes still change on a weekly basis and the security people (yeah... my school has security people) are consistantly bewildered by me when I try to get through the doors. Me: "Uitwisseling! Exchange student?Ik ben Morgan!! I'm the Canadian! yes I DO go here". and so forth... hahaha.
This new school already has a clear idea of what I'm there for, and they already has opportunities set up for me to help out with teaching younger kids conversational english! yay! And, my new host mom used to teach dutch to foreigners when she worked, so twice a week she is going to give me free dutch lessons. Fantastic!
Friday I went to a sleepover party of a girl in my class. It was really great! there were about 15 people there and we stayed up all night. First we watched Earth, and then we watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies.... alll of them. I fell asleep through some though. :)
Saturday, I went into Maastricht with Aggie and Inge (my host sister, she lives in Amsterdam though, so she is only home on the weekends) and finished up my Christmas shopping. Mom, Dad, Jake, prepare yourselves! You get excellent gifts this year, even if they are a bit late.
Saturday was also the first time it snowed. Yay, dutch snow!!
I have a presentation I should be translating into dutch, so i'll blog more later!
Cya! Tot zo,