My Background with the Dutch Language

Last time I lived in Holland, I took a Dutch class in hopes of poking a hole or two in that guttural wall of noise otherwise known as the Dutch language. I signed up with the British Language Training Center for a rather expensive 12 week course and met many well to do English speaking Expats, several of which have remained friends. Although I only learned enough Dutch at the time to confidently order a cup of tea, or express a few niceties, it gave me a foundation that helped over the following seven years to understand soundbites of what my husband was saying to his Dutch family and friends on the telephone.

When our son was born in 2007, my husband spoke the mysterious Dutch babble to our son, and it became perfectly clear that I needed to decipher this babble before the two of them had a secret code language. “Let’s go outside and throw dirt clods at birds.” Just think what that might sound like in Dutch. I certainly had no idea.

I broke out the Dutch books and in fits and starts, started plodding my way through the lessons. Eventually, in 2009, I decided to take another Dutch class in California, and after trying out a beginner’s course, somehow managed my way into a conversational Dutch class with a banker and a real estate agent as classmates.

That next year, after being laid off, the idea that we might relocate to Holland started to percolate through our conversations, and I became even more motivated to learn. Yet, our class was so informal, and the sun so vibrant in our beautiful digs of Santa Barbara, California, that I rarely got around to opening my books.

Little did I imagine that I would soon experience total immersion into the Dutch culture and language, thrown to the wolves. We decided just before Thanksgiving (late November 2010) to move to Holland the following month. There’s no time to study when you’re packing up your whole life, parcing out to friends the things you like but can’t store or bare to give to strangers, making bags for the goodwill, closing accounts, not to mention saying goodbye to friends and family.

On New Year’s Eve 2010, we got off the plane in Schiphol airport and were warmly embraced by the Van der Bom clan, who helped take us and our eight suitcases to Den Haag. Hence the beginning of my true life as an Expat who must REALLY learn the Dutch language, not play around with it like a cute little hobby.

Coming up next: cultures within the culture and my shock in my new Nederlands course

Kristin in Holland!

Good morning friends,

Most of you have messy hair right now, your face in a state of oneness with your pillow. Here, in the cold, lowland country, it is just a few degrees above that sacred zero and the sky is a misty gray outside. I wanted a much more clever name for my blog, but really, when it comes down to it, sometimes a practical, straightforward normal title like this one is all that’s needed. Honestly, as my friend Karna Hughes pointed out, if I waited for a visit frm the WBN Muse*, I might still be waiting and not writing.

When I lived in Holland before, I was a semi-wild creature. I left a respectable job in the U.S. for a hot Dutch man, and moved to Amsterdam to live with him in a spacious,  upstairs flat on Da Kostakade, along a canal. Our lives consisted of outings to jazz clubs and cafes in Amsterdam, romantic bicycle rides through the countryside, an occasional trip to France, Belgium, Spain or Italy, and most importantly, long, leisurely Lennon and Yoko Oko style meetings in bed. Some days, when it was particularly cold and rainy and we had nowhere to be, we would stay in bed for half the day. It felt so decadent.

Had we only known that in just a few years we would be married, create a child and become responsible members of society, we would have stayed in bed even longer, just to claim that fleeting moment.

Our return to Holland is of a different nature. We still spend most of our time indoors (we moved here in the height of winter!), but it is filled with entertaining our little boy, cooking and cleaning, looking for work, and adjusting to life in The Hague, or Den Haag, as the Dutch say it.

This blog is intended to be an informative account of our lives here–perhaps with some insights peppered among the little details of every day living, and on occasion,  flowery descriptions of a red balloon trapped in the ice covered canal, steam rising from the Bosje (little forest) and other snapshots along the way. I was an English major for God’s sake. It is my duty to use adjectives and adverbs as I paint a picture with words.

Until next time,

Kristin in Holland

*WBN Muse: Witty Blog Name Muse