Q1 review

We have officially made it six months in The Netherlands!  (One quarter of our time here already!)  The cover photo is our dinner from Friday night – a stuffed chicken breast and stuffing – improved from the burnt frozen pizza we consumed just six months ago!

We are definitely still learning new things about life here on a regular basis, but I thought it might be helpful to get a list going now while it’s fresh on our minds of lessons learned the hard way!  I’m hoping that there might be at least one American out there moving to Holland soon, who stumbles upon this list and finds it useful.  I did a lot of online searching for advice before our departure, so why not put something out there from my experience?!  And for all of you regular readers, you can just picture us making all these mistakes!! 🙂

Here we go…

*Carry an umbrella and reusable bag at all times.  Both come in handy unexpectedly.

*Translate food names before you go to the grocery store, bring a bag with you, if going to Albert Heijn – get the bonus kaart or you will not get sale prices, put the heavy stuff on the belt first (they aren’t afraid to squash your bread or crush your chips), and prepare for the madness that is quickly bagging your own groceries.

*Tips are not really expected (so the level of service you get is generally reflective of the prices) and also tax is included in the price you see on everything.  What you see is what you pay!

*When driving, stop before the stoplights, ALWAYS look right before going anywhere, people will honk at you regardless of your driving, and lastly, talking on your cell phone is NOT allowed while driving (that was a recent, very expensive lesson).

*Get an OV-chipkaart and take public transportation (buses, trams, trains, etc.)  But just accept that the convenience of these transportation means does come with some delays or confusion from time to time.  Also, get the 9292 app on your phone – English route information.

*Eating out is not quick – accept that in advance or stay in.  Also, many places have English menus, so it never hurts to ask.  For another alternative, check out thuisbezord.nl – they have a lot of delivery options!  (this was a huge discovery for us!)

*A lot of things here are smaller portions (in comparison with us crazy, super-sizing Americans). Prepare yourself for a small cup of coffee, but don’t worry – it’s stronger!

*Buy a museumkaart and explore all the random museums in the country.  Some of them aren’t as amazing as others, but they are a nice activity and a lot have English information.

*If you are shopping for a specific item, it will probably take you a little longer than you are used to in order to track it down.  Keep looking!  You will probably stumble upon it somewhere random.  (And find a Dutch friend that you can ask about these things…that’s really helpful!)

*Lastly, we have learned that we will always feel dumb, and we will always be learning here.  Just don’t be afraid to ask questions, the Dutch are quite helpful!  (and I think they expect us to ask dumb questions too.)  We have spent a lot of time wandering about getting no where on our own.

As many of you know, I have been taking some Dutch language lessons and some art classes over the past 5 months or so as well, so I thought I would give you a progress report.  Here are some things that I can say about myself to you in Dutch (although actually hearing me speak them would be more humorous):

Mijn naam is MK.  Ik kom uit Amerika.  Ik woon in Den Haag en ik werk niet.  Ik ben getrouwd en ik heb geen kinderen.  Ik woon in een kleine appartement met mijn man.  Ik spreek Engels en een beetje Nederlands.  Ik ga naar de markt voor brood, fruit, bloemen en drinken (en snoep!).  Op dinsdag en donderdag ga ik naar lessen.  Ik ben leren schilderen en Nederlands.  Ik denk dat Nederland is mooi.

Impressed? 🙂  I’m not sure how much of that is proper Dutch, but I feel pretty good about it.

Also, I have been doing some art (which I’m not super excited about sharing with you all since I have a long ways to go, but you’ve earned it through your devout reading).  First, some random doodles/messing around at home. 🙂

Doing some drawing at home.  BC made one too! :)

Doing some drawing at home. BC made one too! 🙂

A really funny sketch of my dad that I made one day.

A really funny sketch of my dad that I made one day.

Tee-hee...messing around at home.

Tee-hee…messing around at home.

Watercolor & Ink messing around at home.

Watercolor & Ink messing around at home.

Watercolor circle fun at home.

Watercolor circle fun at home.

Now the ones that I actually took my time with at class. 🙂

My continued practice of watercolor & ink at class.

My continued practice of watercolor & ink at class.

A pencil drawing that I did in class.

A pencil drawing that I did in class.

Watercolor & Ink - completed in class.

Watercolor & Ink – completed in class.

So there ya go – now you know how I spend my time!  Not completely wasted.  Also – shout out to my BFF for giving me some great books to read over Christmas – I’m actually enjoying reading now too!

Well, I think that is all I have to report in for now.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Until next time,