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June 2012

Dutch for Dummies: Or How I am Going to Bump My Dutch Up a Level or Two This Summer

My Inburgering classes break for the Summer starting on July 7th, and I have recently learned that despite of being as honest as possible about my intentions to surrender my free time starting in September to be able to take both my degree program classes and inburgering classes, and was told that switching to evening classes would be as easy as saying that I want to switch, I was once again misinformed. Turns out, there is only one evening class offered, and whilst it does move at a much slower pace than my morning class, it is at a completely different level than I am at with my Nederlands. I was told however, that since I would have so many classes between now and then I might maybe be able to switch into it. Ummm, with the summer break I have exactly 7 classes left, two of which are computer labs, they don't count. So basically, because bureaucracies don't talk to each other, I am on my own.

Now, instead of doing my typical American thing of screaming about how UNFAIR it all is, (okay, I did do that for a few hours the day I found this out, let's be honest) I am devising a plan to learn on my own. I am posting it here because I figure the more people who know about it and are there to hold me accountable, the more likely I am to do it. Also, sorry for all the language posts, but it has kind of taken over my life. I promise this is the last one for a week!

So the plan! 

  • I'm going to keep up the class schedule I have right now, plus add Mondays. So from 9 to 12 every weekday will be hitting the books hard. Then another two hours later in the day for additional homework.
  • Complete immersion, besides my Sunday night tv schedule, if I do watch tv, it is going to be in Dutch. This is going to be hard to do, as Dutchies don't dub, and at night it is mostly English programs. So, maybe if The Verlo-and I do watch something I will make a major effort to read the Nederlands subtitles.
  • Find a partner to speak Nederlands to, other than my partner, because we go for about 5 minutes before switching back to our old habits and talking English. 

Jamie Oliver telling all about the dangers of non-free ranged eggs, subtitled in Nederlands.

In all seriousness though, I have probably looked through 50 different books to try and learn Dutch, and Dutch for Dummies is the best for beginners. 

Do you have any tips for going up a level? Also, please, please, please ask me how it is going this summer. I won't lie to my readers and it will help keep me on track. 

 

 

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The New (Not Really) Blog Title Plus This Week in Instagram Vol 8

So, you may have noticed a little redesign including a title change here at the blog. Instead of being A Georgia Peach in Utrecht, it is now A Georgia Peach Abroad. The change happened for two reasons, the first is that everything else was already branded A Georgia Peach Abroad, and the other is that while I love living in Utrecht, for the next four years I will be enrolled in an International Tourism Management program at a Hogeschool that requires me to go to Amsterdam at least 4 days a week. During this program, I will also be required to spend one quarter studying abroad outside of The Netherlands. Plus a bunch of travel, so the name change felt appropriate.

But, now on to the photos! I can't believe how many I took this week!

Up first we have the houseboats or woonboten that I pass when walking home from inburgering. I think that woonboten are really fascinating. Maybe it is because I have a huge phobia of boats. Which I know is ridiculous when you live in The Netherlands. Trust me, I am doing my best to slowly get over it.

I feel like I have been seeing a ton of flowering vines over doorways lately. I love these pink roses at this art studio. The studio also offers classes which I will take, one day...

I'm obsessed with birds, but especially baby ducks! So, here are 3 pictures!

And here is a picture of a heron, you just have to look really close!

During the longest day of the year, The Netherlands was experiencing a mega storm. I know surprise, surprise. But there were some pretty awesome clouds!

My two main guys love to cuddle. Yep, they are pretty cute!

Here are my good friends just before and while they went for a nighttime canoe ride in Utrecht, I didn't join them, because again this fear of boats. But I did play photographer. If only I remembered that my iPhone has a flash! What makes me uber sad is that Amanda is moving back to the States tomorrow! Her husband is joining her at the end of July after he wraps some stuff up here. I'm going to miss her so much! 

Last but not least, I passed this sign in a window on the Oudegracht. For me it has two meanings, sometimes it has hard to believe that I'm not just visiting here, this is now my real life. On the other hand, since I have been here for 3/4 of a year, it is frustrating to be thought of as a tourist, when I ask a question in Nederlands and I am answered in English.

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Happy 1st Birthday Little Blog!

I wrote my first post for this blog one year ago, I feel like time has really flown by! So much has happened since that very first post: I moved to The Netherlands, got my residence permit, applied and got rejected for a ton of jobs, decided to go back and get my bachelors' degree, started my inburgering lessons, and most importantly, I made some great friends. I couldn't be happier with my decision to leave everything I knew behind and live with the Verlo- here in Utrecht. 

I thought in honor of the blog's verjaardag (birthday, for those non-Nederlands speakers) I would revisit my very first post and see what has changed. So here is Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How Redux.

 

The WhoMy name is Kaitlin, I am in my mid twenties and newly engaged. I rock at jeopardy and I love beautiful things. I also have quite a snarky sense of humor, so you know if you are easily offended or you just don't like snark, this might not be the place for you. Well, my name is in fact, Kaitlin, I am still in my mid-twenties and I have been engaged for over a year, please don't ask when I am getting married, you will know when I know! I haven't played Jeopardy since October, but I do still like beautiful things. I am still full of snark. I am about to be an International Tourism Management student at Inholland University of Applied Sciences.  I am an avid reader and budding polyglot. Right now, I am learning Nederlands and my degree program requires me to take Spanish. 

The What: This blog chronicles my journey; both preparing to move to Europe and the adjustments I will make after I am there. It is a way to keep my friends and family up to date on my life. As well as, a chance to make new friends. Drop me a line I would love to hear from you. I have moved to Europe! So, mostly this blog chronicles my adventures making my way in this crazy country. Blogging has been a great way to both keep up with people and make new friends. Seriously though, nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers

The Where: Right now, I am based out of Atlanta, this fall I will be moving to Utrecht, Netherlands. Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands. It has a beautiful city center, and most importantly, it is where my love is. WOOHOO! I made it to Utrecht! More specifically, I live in Leidsche Rijn, an upandcoming suburb. I do in fact live here with my love, and our cute kitty Atticus. 

The When: A month that ends in a -ber, that is all you are getting for now. I moved on October 5th. 

The Why: People have been asking why it is that I am moving there and he is not moving to the States. That's simple here are the reasons: Emigration to the States is tough for people in love. The Euro is stronger than the dollar. Loek can't drive a car and I don't particularly like it. I was an Art History Major in College so where is better than Europe. I am obsessed with travel; as is Loek and most of where we want to explore is in Eurasia. So why is it called a Georgia Peach Abroad with the title being called Georgia Peach in Utrecht? Well, I was raised in Georgia and though I may not always like to admit it, I am a Southern Lady. I went a little crazy with this explanation. I am really bad about re-reading my posts to make sure they make sense. These reasons are valid for why I moved. So, instead I'll talk about why I blog. I blog because I love interacting with people and having a place to share my stories and hear the stories of others. I also blog because I have questions about my new life all the time, sometimes there doesn't seem to be an answer on the internet, so I blog my experiences and answers so that transitioning abroad/ living in The Netherlands might be easier for those who come after me.

The How: Loek built this blog for me so that is how you are getting content. As far as the whole how am I getting to move to Europe thing? You will just have to wait and read! I like to think that I have done a decent job of describing the how of moving abroad. Now, the blog is all about how I am living my life here.

Also, here is a look back at the 10 most read posts of this year.

Last, but not least, I wish to share my gratitude and appreciation for you dear readers! Thank you so much for all your encouragement and interactions! I am at a loss as to how to describe just how much I love you all! 

 

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7 Habits Adult Language Learners Can Learn from Bilingual Children

Here in The Netherlands, I pick up the occasional tutoring gig for young children who are bilingual, and who are too young to learn English in school. These are normally the children of Nederlanders who moved to English speaking countries and have since moved back here. Since I have started becoming serious about learning Nederlands, I can´t help but compare the relative ease of being bilingual in my charges, to the struggles I face everyday as an adult. I have pinpointed 7 habits that I see in my young bilingual students that I think will help me, and other adult language learners in their strife to become bilingual.

  1. Brush off mistakes/embarrassment: I am not quite sure when in our lives it becomes embarrassing to make a mistake, but it is really a terrible habit we develop. With my kids, if they make a mistake with their grammar or pronunciation, it doesn't phase them at all, they just keep going. In reverse, when my inburgering teacher calls upon people to read the text out loud, I don't think I could make myself smaller in my seat. The don't call on me because there is this word I am unsure of how to pronounce mentality is a real antagonist to my ability to learn. What I and other adults need to realize is that no one is perfect 100% of the time, if we were there would be no reason to be in a class because we would already be fluent. Be proud of your mistakes, they mean you are actually learning. 
  2. Set apart time to learn: While I think that you should be open to learning your new language whenever it presents itself, having a set time that you know is dedicated to learning is really helpful. For example, my students know that when they see me, we will be speaking in English. We try to make it at the same time each week, that way the kids are already in the mindset that on Thursdays at noon, they can not play with their friends, they have their lessons. Conversely, I know when I have my inburgering lessons each week, but when I get to my homework is anyone's guess. I think that next week, I will have set study times for my homework, that way all of it will actually get done.
  3. Have a  designated place to learn: Each time I see my kids, we go to the same spot in their house to have our lessons, this is the same place they do their homework. Most of the time it is a dining room table. When I was in high school, my space was on the floor of my best friend Christy's bedroom. In college it was a local coffee shop. I do not do well at home, too many distractions. Here in Utrecht, I think I will try the beautiful Utrecht Centraal Library, since I have a love affair with the building anyway. My point is, find a place free of distractions to make it easier to learn. 
  4. Just do it: Children have teachers and parents to hold them accountable for their learning. As adults, we are accountable to ourselves, but sometimes having a partner in our learning can help.If that is not possible, then you are going to have to just grin and do it. No excuses, you have already set apart this time to learn. But at the same time...
  5. Know when you have hit a wall: With my students it is easy to tell when they have hit a wall. It is when they suddenly lose all interest in what we are doing. If you have read the same page four times and still are not comprehending it, it is time to try a new tactic.
  6. Try something else: When we are learning our first language, we watch movies, we sing songs, we read stories. Why do we not utilize the tools when trying to learn our second? When you have hit a wall with your grammar books, try doing something fun with the language. Watch a movie in the language, listen to local artists, it is good to remind yourself why you wanted to learn it.
  7. Don't get discouraged: This goes along with the mistakes thing, think about how long it took you to become really proficient in your language. Now compare that to how long you have been trying to learn your second. See, you are doing better than you thought. Keep it up!

Do you have any language learning tips?

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This Week In Instagram Vol.7

This is my first week of dealing with school/work/life balance, since moving to The Netherlands. It was a challenge as my Nederlands classes are very fast paced and intensive. They require a lot of self study. Which is something I will need to keep in mind, especially in September when I add going to my Tourism Program fulltime as well.  It is really interesting because I only have 3 more weeks of class before we break for a month and a half. When I start my lessons back, I will be in a new class, because I have to switch to nighttime lessons. I did however, take some cool pictures. 

I am lucky enough to get to go to the beautiful village of Oudekerk aan de Amstel (Old church on the Amstel) twice a week. It is located on the Amstel River, in case you couldn't guess, just south of Amsterdam. This is one of the two churches in the town, but I believe this one is the Oudekerk. 

I pass a lot of swans out in the Dutch Countryside. I still think they are majestic, because they are not something you see in the wild where I am from. Hence, I snap lots of photos.

On my walk home from my inburgering classes, I sometimes get to pass by this building. It is actually the Dutch National Mint of Utrecht and has been around since 1567! 

Did I mention that weather this week has for the most part been dark and foreboding? This was especially true on Wednesday, when our football team lost to Germany. This was a bar in Bilthoven that was in the spirit before the game. Was the weather foreshadowing the results of the game?

In addition to be tourist season here, it is also baby bird season! Here are some swanlings that I have been watching grow for the last few weeks.

Speaking of cute babies, here is another unusual place Atti found to sleep.

I didn't blog a lot this week. This week I promise to do better! What did your week look like?

 

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Mijn Eerst Nederlands Les

This week has severely kicked my butt! This is the first week since I moved to The Netherlands that I have had something that I've had to do everyday of the week. On Tuesday, I finally began my Nederlands courses. You will remember that I had a minor freak out about these the week before. (Okay, let's be honest, huge freak out). I am happy to say that the first week was not as bad as it could have been. Yes, I am slightly far behind the class. But, not embarrassingly so. I must say that three classes a week, plus one mandatory computer lab day, all for 3 hours and 15 minutes, plus an additional two hours of homework before each class is a bit much. 

The way my class is organized, there is a lot of working together with a partner. This is okay, I have been partnered up with a very sweet guy from Turkey most of the week, but I can't help but feel that maybe learning our pronunciations of the words from other students is helping no one when communicating with actual Nederlanders. In fact, when I come home and tell The Verlo- what I have learned each day, he says he hasn't a clue what I am even trying to say. Another thing that I don't particularly like is the once a week computer labs. We have to sign in so it counts towards our 80% attendance.( Or else you have to pay 260 euros) However, there is nothing that we do that we in there that we don't have access to at home, and my computer is a whole lot faster! But, oh well. This also means that before we break for a month and a half in July, I will have significant less classes then I originally thought.

There is still no word about what will happen in September when I need to switch to evening classes in order to attend my Hogeschool. I've decided that I worry too much about things I can not control, things will work out one way or another. 

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This Week In Instagram Vol.6

This week has been a whirlwind of emotions. I am happy to report that I have them now mostly in check. Sometimes, a girl has just got to vent! Especially when she is an obsessive life planner who calls and checks on things at least twice before making her decisions, only to have been told the wrong information. But I digress. I also didn't take that many photos with my phone this week. That is because we got my phone bill and it was 35 Euros over what it was supposed to be. I thought maybe that had to do with my data usage. I have no sense of direction and last month there was a lot of traveling to new places for interviews and to meet up with new friends, so I thought maybe my incessant use of Google Maps and GPS was taking its toll. But no, apparently the problem is I talk too much! This should come as no surprise to people who know me in real life. Probably a few readers could have also guessed that I am very loquacious. My plan for the next phone bill ends in 3 days and I am already 13.50 over. So, the moral dear friends is expect a lot more texts from me to coordinate plans. But, the good news is my data usage is hardly anything. So more pictures! 

As I mentioned in the happier of my two posts this week, on Sunday the Verlo- and I stumbled upon Zumba at the Domplein. Here are some more shoots I took with my phone. As you can see, the weather was yucky, but dancing sure was fun!

Then I caught Mr. Atticus looking adorbs. Seriously, I might be partial, but you would be hard pressed to find a cuter cat. Just look at those furry toes!

I don't know if you know, but the European Championships for Football (Soccer) are happening right now. Voetbal is huge here in The Netherlands. Stores have been stock piling oranje gear for weeks! Holland is in what is know as the Group of Death, with Germany, Denmark, and Portugal. Our first game was last night against Denmark. I went all out with my adorable lion mane that we got for buying a lot of Holland Edition MM's. Too bad we lost! Even though we had possession of the ball I'm guessing 95% of the game. We just had a bit of trouble with too much heat on the ball, as our shoots kept flying over the goal post. Oh and Denmark's goal was absolute shite. Seriously, luck was not on our side. Next up we get to play Germany who beat Portugal last night.

Next week I promise to be in a better mood! I am excited for my inburgering classes to finally begin on Tuesday, but the shy kid I was in high school is starting to sneak back in. I am convinced that I will have to introduce myself in Nederlands before the class that already knows each other, so I have been rehearsing what to say about myself all week! Yep, I'm nerd. Also, this was my first full week of giving up soda, and I have been exponentially more tired. Next week, I'll be consuming more coffee.

What did your week look like?

 

 

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Zumba in Front of the Dom

Sometimes, you stumbled upon marvelous things in Utrecht. One Sunday a month, the city hosts Culturele Zondag, (Cultural Sunday). Most of them have theme's, I missed the last two months, but I wrote about March's. This month's theme had to do with Dance. There were different stages of set up all over the city for different dance troops to perform, the only problem is that it was freezing and raining here on Sunday. We are talking in the 50's!

The Verlo- and I did venture out for a bit, where we came across a Zumba lesson going on right in the Domplein.

This is the instructor who worked really hard to get the crowd into it!

The crowd really got into it! Including me, although there is no evidence of that.

On Saturday, Utrecht celebrated its 890th birthday. Although, the city is much older than that. This booth was set up to have people make flags in honor of the city. They are to be hanged all over. 

Despite the freak out Monday and Tuesday, I can't imagine myself happier in any other place.

 

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Inburgering Orientation, Or When Culture Shock Finally Hit Me and I Burst into Tears.

This has been a rough week and it is only Tuesday! Yesterday, I had my Inburgering Orientation. I was going to write this post then, but thought that maybe things would seem better in the morning. They haven't. Let's start at the very beginning.

You might recall from my last post about Inburgering that I was waiting for the letter telling me at what time and where my Inburgering Update would be. I finally got that letter last week. My orientation was to be from 1pm-3pm. The location, is really hard to get to by public transportation. Already not ideal. I went to look on Saturday so I would make sure I didn't get lost on the way to the school. It took me 45 minutes by bus. 

Now to the actual orientation. This was fine, the lady was really nice, but people were very disappointed because they only offer 3 classes in the morning, a really slow class, an A1-A2 class, and a B2 class. I know this probably doesn't mean much to you, but these are the different levels they have for learning Nederlands. I was put into an afternoon class for 0-A1, even though when I tested I was between A1 and A2. When people asked about the evening class, they were told there was only one and it was really advanced. Shit, I need to switch to evening classes in September because, I am going to school. Freak out moment number 1. To be fair, my contact did tell me to call her when I am ready to switch, so I am hoping at a different location, they will have an evening class that fits me. I also switched to the A1-A2 morning class, because I looked through the other book and I knew it all.

One of the weirdest things I think about Inburgering is that you join a class already in session. My afternoon class is already on chapter 5, and my morning on chapter 3. Doesn't language build on itself? Doesn't it seem like you are already setting up people to fail? Wouldn't you want to make sure people have the basics down if you are paying the 5,000 Euros I read somewhere that the inburgering process costs per person?

Also, I start classes next week, but the school is on vacation from July 7th until August 27th. So, I will be in class for four weeks and then out for a month an a half. I'm going to forget everything! So, basically, I was so frustrated with the worry that I might have to teach myself an entire level of dutch to be able to take the evening class, that I came home and cried my eyes out. Because, here is the thing, I want to be a part of society here. I want to get a job, I want to attend school and better myself so that I can be a contributing member of society. Why does it have to be so hard?

To compound my frustration, I also found out that I might not be entitled to as much financial aid for my HBO program as I was originally told. Don't get me wrong, I am appreciative that I get any. But when you were told to expect 509 Euros a month, but you might actually only get around 250, that is kind of a big difference. This on top of the sorry you don't speak Dutch email I just got from the student employment agency in Utrecht. I guess I will try the one at my Hogeschool which I was told help International Students. But all this together makes someone even with my resolve that this is where I am supposed to be, curl up into fetal position and wonder if I can even afford to stay here with the love of my life. 

Don't worry, I am a fighter, I'll make it through, but why's it got to be so hard? 

Words of encourgment greatly appreciated! 

 

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This Week In Instagram Vol.6

Welcome to the first This Week in Instagram of June! I traveled a lot this week. I might as well get used to it, come September, I'll be going to Amsterdam for school at least four days a week! I continued one tutoring job and started another. I also attended a Trial Study Day for my Tourism Program and it got me even more pumped to be back in school! Here is how my week looked in pictures! 

Light is so different here than in Georgia! This is the beginnings of a sunset, at 10:22pm! Don't worry, it starts coming up again around 6am!

There is a street in Utrecht where the lamp posts all have sayings or ads. This is my favorite, it says "Evening Time is Reading Time". I wholeheartedly agree. 

One of the families I tutor live in the most beautiful countryside. I get to see all kinds of animals I miss by living in the burb's. This week, I was greeted by close encounters of the swan kind. 

Just a little but closer.

Then I came upon these cuties. 

Last week, I took a photo on some unknown flower. I found out that these are actually poppies! They are everywhere this week!

Some more poppies!

Next week, I finally have my orientation at my Inburgering School. Look for that post Monday afternoon!

What did your week look like? I would love to hear! 

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