Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dutch Depression #1 Learning Dutch and making friends!

Today is a big day in my Dutch Fairy Tale! I start my Dutch lessons today. Apparently, even though everyone here in Holland prefers to speak English and the language is considered difficult and not worth learning (as quoted from various Dutch people when I have informed them about my Dutch class), those close to me here in Holland (the damn family I married into) feel it is important for me to do. They told me they think it will make it easier for me to get a job, it will show I respect Holland and they think I am lonely and need friends

Well, first off I never even thought about getting a job that I had to speak Dutch. I am so American I just assumed I could speak English wherever I worked. I have become so concerned that I have been looking to see if MTV Holland has any openings. They HAVE to speak English, right? Or I know there is McDonald's at least. Second of all it is not a pleasant experience to be sitting in a roomful of Dutch people of all ages from 10-70 discussing your skills and where you should work and doing it in Dutch so you are not quite sure what they are saying about your future! I am 38 years old for God sakes! But I just smile and pretend to listen and generally think about American TV shows I will be able to find on YouTube when I get home.

As for making friends it is true I need them. At the moment the only person I socialize with is my neighbor Corri who is an elderly women and lonely like me. The major problem is she does not speak English at all (well very little, words like cigarette and drink, gin) I think she might have a slight drinking problem but she is very sweet. The other issue is she has a tracheotomy. So it is very difficult for me to understand her no matter what language she is trying to speak. Also since she has to hold her microphone thingy pantomime is out of the picture. I rely heavily on pantomime to communicate here in Holland. I credit my skillful pantomime communication ability to my MFA in Theater Arts. Of course none of these obstacles seem to phase Corri as she electronically tells me all sorts of things and I just stare at her nodding and shaking my head, which ever my impulse tells me is the correct thing to do. One time she showed up at my door slightly crying and depressed. I could smell the alcohol as I gave her a hug. I tried to listen but I had no idea what was upsetting her so I gave her a cookie. I became paranoid that was not a good thing to do. I am so unfamiliar with the life of a tracheotomy. Can she choke on a cookie? I want to be neighborly (and American) and bake her something but I am not sure if she can eat?

I have been meaning to google about that.

Anyway she is very sweet but I will admit every time I leave a conversation with Corri I find myself laying on my bed (sometimes in the fetal position) thinking about all my friends back in the States. I wonder what they are doing?

They are sleeping Ken it is 9 hours behind Dutch time, they are sleeping!

So I generally I end up watching Wie is de Chef? My favorite Dutch reality show. I have no idea what they are saying but they cook for each other and one of the four is a real chef. I like to look at the pretty food and guess who I think the chef is!

So ALL RIGHT, maybe I do need friends. Maybe they will be made in the class. I am preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. I will keep you posted. Maybe I will have a new friend tonight!


  1. Sweetie, I don't know whether laugh or cry. Does that neighbor of yours really exist? I never thought about how people with tracheotomies eat. Your next blog ought to be a follow up to that.

    Have you considered turning this blog into a book? That can help you pass the time.

    Seriously, my heart goes out to you out there. I couldn't imagine moving to a country where I didn't know at least a little bit of the language and then tryto learn it, even though I hate it (Dutch sounds so horrible!!).

    Good luck finding a job. Try bars until you can get something that you really want. They always seem to be hiring.

    Good luck, sweetie!

  2. You know, you really are going to be the next Augusten Burroughs. Seriously, you should be turning all of your stories into a book -- the Manny Tales, life in New York, and now this.

    As for spotting the real chef -- if they're Dutch, they'll use mayonaisse. For anything. Doesn't matter if it's entree, main course or dessert. It has mayo.

  3. Hopefully your Dutch teacher will be super cool like Harold Ramis in Stripes and teach you how to sing Da Do Run Run in Dutch your first day of class. Success! (Good Luck in Dutch)

  4. Hey Ken, good luck with Dutch class. I think working in a bar is a great idea, you should look into one in Amsterdam!
    Btw, have you tried using www.hulu.com for TV episodes? It's great.
    Miss you too..

  5. You could also teach Spanish, get a job at your new language school, just a thought.

    Love your blog though even if the title is een beetje sad.

  6. Ken, now that one of your friends mentioned that the real Dutch chef is the one using mayo, is that reality show even worth watching anymore? I know the feeling you are going through. I went through it when I lived in Luxembourg. All I could understand was "Texas," "Ronald Reagan," and if you even think Dutch sounds bad, take a trip to Luxembourg and listen to that language! Although, the Luxembourgish food is terrific!

  7. I watch my American shows via downloade from tvfreeload.com. We have a rapidshare account and just download links that are uploaded there and then combine with WINRAR. It's so simple and I don't have to miss anything! If you check it out and need help, let me know! laurasnow@home.nl

  8. wdialan.. hulu only works if you are located in the USA sadly!