Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Monumentus Year in Amsterdam: Part 2

In August I went to Budapest and to a few smaller towns/villages/cities, near the Hungarian-Croatian border–one of them being the European 2010 Capital of Culture: PécsHungary is spectacular and certainly an interesting mix of many European cultures. After Hungary, about three weeks later, I also went to the USA. I went with my Dutch man–and showed him my country. It was lovely to be there again after not visiting for some time. We went to: New York City, New Haven, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Nashville. Upon registering at the gementee (sort of the main office of the city, or your neighborhood, depending on the situation) you get a card that says 'Je bent écht Amsterdammer'. And I am: Ik ben een echte Amsterdammer (I am a real Amsterdammer). I've even been taking to my Dutch lessons as of late–quite rigorously. The other day I told myself, well actually wrote myself: 'Hello there mister, You have no excuse not to know Dutch by now.' And then I proceeded to list all the reason why I don't know Dutch by now (which were none except lack of effort), and realized then and there that it's time to get down with my Dutch. I'm taking Dutch Lesson, and I have the Dutch Rosetta Stone (thanks Andy), and lastly, I live with my Dutch boyfriend–so I do get enough practice. This learning Dutch thing shouldn't be too hard. 
And it isn't. Two weeks ago I had dinner at Het Molenpad on Prinsengracht, and spoke Dutch over dinner for about three hours. I was proud of myself and it's not as difficult as I tend to think. I'm learning that speaking another language is about going with it, and admitting to yourself that you will make mistakes. These days I just say my thoughts as they come–edited in the mind first, of course–and most often Dutchies help me out if my word order is off, or so. I enjoy the fact that I am learning Dutch–it's the key the Netherlands. You can live here and speak only English–but if you did–you would miss half the fun. Kind of the same way I could imagine that moving to Moscow would be much less fun if you lived there for years and never learned Russian–you'd definitely miss out on something. I've deduced that this distinctly-Dutch culture is: funny, humorously humble, tolerant, diverse(ifying), direct, penny-pinching (it's true), modern, and (they say) the most egalitarian as they come, these days. And I sort of like that. And then at other times, I don't.