Learning Dutch: Een Woord Per Dag

 Goededag friends 🙂

Week two of classes have begun and I am seeing far less of this beautiful country than I intended to. Nevertheless, I am doing my best to experience what I can in between classes, group projects, exams and my second home, de bibliotheek. This includes learning Dutch. As everyone knows, the best way to learn a language is to live in the country that speak it but this proves difficult when practically everybody in the Netherlands speaks Engels and learning Dutch is not a necessity for survival.  And so started the ‘word a day’ challenge!

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I have discovered that hek is the word for fence thanks to a taxi driver who deciphered a badly drawn map for us. A man in a bag shop taught me that counting above twenty is really easy (and it is, once you know how!!). Thanks to him I now know that bon is a receipt and rugzak is backpack. A Dutch friend taught me the alphabet, de getallen (numbers), days of the week and the months & seasons. Welke dag is het vandaag? Vandaag is het woensdag 🙂 It took me a while, but there IS a difference between the letters V and W and I am slowly mastering the pronunciation of the letter G. Note: you are all saying Gouda wrong!!

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The beautiful (but highly irritating) street organs that appear out of nowhere actually have a name.. they’re called DraaiorgelsA waitress explained that even though alstublieft means please, it will be used when a cashier hands you a receipt or when a waiter places your food on the table as a polite form of ‘here you go’ – this explains so much! My new favourite cashier in my local Albert Heijn is now only speaking to me in Dutch.. Nog een prettige dag (Have a nice day!) was yesterday’s lesson, to which I gave her the English word for bonuskaart. My coffee addiction has taught me important words like slagroom (whipped cream) and ijsblokjes (icecubes). My biggest challenge to date is pronouncing the vowels. There is a massive difference between boom (tree) and bom (bomb), I just have to remember what that difference is…

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But there’s more to Dutch culture than de taal. I love mijn fiets. I am completely obsessed with cycling everywhere. I understand the rules of the road, who has right of way and how to indicate right. Indicating left is a different story. I don’t know why but my left hand is afraid to leave the handlebars! According to one of my friends, I treat cycling like Mario Kart.. it’s not my fault I have gears and tend to speed off ahead of them! Let’s not forget Dutch cuisine and beer. We went to the Big Lebowski on Friday night for drinks, right next to the Dom Tower, which is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands with 465 steps – another challenge that is calling my name! The atmosphere was only wonderful – and I loved being able to cycle home afterwards! We also have a regular ‘Turkish place’, the owner does the best salads and according to him, the only homemade & handmade falafel in Utrecht.

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By the end of this week, as well as finishing an assignment and (hopefully) passing the PRINCE2 exam, I hope to have mastered the complicated process of turning left on a bicycle and know the verbs zijn (to be) and habben (to have). The goal is to be able to have a conversation in Dutch with my grandmother rather than our usual English or French. I have three months…

Ik ben nederlands aan het leren… 🙂

Tot ziens,

Charlene

xoxo

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