Ik ben Melissa. Ik woon in Amersfoort. I ben going mental!

13 01 2009

Well… I started my Inburgeringcurses yesterday… and…. and…ya.  I’m doing the type where you sit there with headphones on and go through the lessons on an individual basis (Talenpracticum).  I’m also apparently taking a bit harder exam then the normal one given, don’t ask, I don’t know, all I know it’s called the “staatsexam”.  I have to finish these courses and take my test with in the three and a half year mark of living in the Netherlands other wise I can be fined.  I have to “work with them” on this, yes that was in the letter they gave us, well me actually not Frank since HE doesn’t HAVE to do this! (Jealously showing).  

I’ve been given two books to follow along on the tapes and also for homework purposes.  Great no problem… so yesterday I head off to my course, which is on the other end of the city basically and it would take longer by bus then by bike,  and I get there 10 minutes early.  Being the good pupil.  Well that was a waste of time since you can’t even talk the secretary until your allotted time.  PERFECT since I needed to ask questions.  So I waited and watched people come and go, and waited, and watched more people come and go…. finally the teacher came and got me.  I felt so special… or rather singled out since she flat out announced this was my first day and I had to sit at the front of the class…. great considering there were already two other people there and I had to sit in between them.  To give you an idea of how much space you have, try fitting the large eggs into the carton that is marked small.  Hmmmm yes… comfortable.   So then she starts to speak Dutch to me,  I’m sure the blank gaze I gave her was the dead give away that I didn’t understand.  Ok.. I did understand but I wasn’t going to make my head hurt by making sure I was translating it properly in my head.   I was then given Lesson 2 or for you smart ass already know Dutch people Les 2.   HEY!! WHAT HAPPENED TO LESSON 1??  I guess since I did SO well on the pre-tests for someone who has no clue with the language I can skip lesson 1.   When I say well, I mean I actually got some answers right on all 3 tests that I had to do. 

Now I’m settled in my seat and I have my two pretty red books in front of me,  she sets me up on Lesson 2 and  shows me the earphones I’m supposed to use.  I don’t think she was amused that I took out a kleenex with a dab of antibacterial cleaner on it to wipe them down.   And I settle in for my first lesson!  WHOOHOOO!!  Here’s your example of what I listened too, and repeated for an hour…

Ik woon in Amsterdam.

Ben u student?

Ja, ik ben student.

Ik studeer Engels.

Hè, dat is mijn taal.

Now… here’s the thing… luckily I understand what I was reading and repeating, but nowhere was there a translation or the teacher offering a translation.  I pretty much could have been repeating Greek and not having a clue what it meant.   Now this is pretty basic and most people can get the just of it, but at the end of this I had to listen to some sentences and write them down…. ok…. um…. That wouldn’t be a problem if it was what we just studied, but it wasn’t… needless to say I guessed on most and got nearly all wrong.  Not impressed by that.  I did however do the listen for  “i” sound as in pit and the “e” sound as in pet part perfectly.  Trust me it was harder then you think. 

Once I got home I had about 6 pages of homework to do.  I had to take the word given and write the plural.  No problem, except again I didn’t know what I was reading and I want to know the English word so next time I’ll remember.  My homework that should have only have taken 30 minutes took and hour because of all the translating I did on top of the original work.   Oh and I’m still not done, I still have 2 more pages to do.  *sigh*  Well it’s a matter of “suck it up buttercup” because I don’t have a choice but to do these courses.  So I might as well just get it done and over with now.

Oh and for anyone questioning why I took the classes this way and not in a regular class setting, I’m on the job hunt.  So if I get a job I can easily switch these classes to the night and not worry about losing out on lessons.  Plus these classes are fairly flexible so I can change times even for the day if I can’t make my normal time.  That’s the only reason why I did it this way, otherwise I would have opted for a normal class room setting.

I have classes now every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for only 2 hours a day.  I’m not too sure what’s going to happen when I leave in March to go back to Canada for a visit.  Maybe I can double up on the lessons so I don’t fall behind.   The bike ride is about 15-20 minutes depending on the wind.  Oh that reminds me I need to get a rain cape, I have a jacket but it doesn’t cover my legs and it’s so bloody annoying having wet pants!

Other then that, New Years was an experience I don’t think I’d like to repeat.  At least not when I have Stoney still around.  The fireworks were great but they left the poor dog shaking for a week and unable to go outside and go to the bathroom properly.  I had to drug him the night of the fireworks and even then it really didn’t help too much.  The Dutch LOVE their fireworks, and well our neighbours obviously do too since it was 4 am by the time they put out the lovely bonfire in the middle of the parking lot and stopped setting them off.   The thing with the fireworks is that hey started in November and continued right through until the 3 day in January.  After nearly two months of it you just get tired of listening to them.  The fun of watching them is gone.  

I think next year I’ll find out what my aunt in Italy is doing and go visit her with Stoney!!  I know she loves him since the last time she was in Canada she gave him a bath…. and I heard about it until she left to go back to Italy…God love her 😀



9 responses

13 01 2009

Hey, congrats on starting Dutch lessons! Too bad you’re not doing the classroom version, for my money that’s the best way to go — but I understand what you mean about being on the job hunt. I was fortunate enough to have my days free when I was doing the lessons.

Are you guys using the Code books? Don’t worry too much about there being a lack of English in the lessons (after all, most people going through inburgering don’t have English as a first language, so the courses have be language-neutral). Just keep your trusty dictionary close by for translating and after a while you’ll notice you’re using it less and less. Bonus for you as you get to speak Dutch at home so that’s why you’re already skipping ahead on lessons. The learning curve has its ebbs and flows, some weeks you seem to jump a whole bunch, other weeks it’s a struggle.

You’ll have no problem passing the basic staatsexamen in a few months as long as you stick with it (the easy one they require you to do). In fact, you should be able to get through the more difficult level 2 one after about a year (which is university-entry/higher-job level). If you want to see what some of the staatsexamen questions are like, check out this site, http://www.expertisecentrumnt2.nl/staat/staat2008/ (“Voorbeeldexamens”on the left-side menu).

Anyway, one last thing — download this little free desktop dictionary for your computer, it’s super handy: http://www.p1.com/P1VertaalWoordenboekPage.htm Best for translating from Dutch-English than vice versa, but it’s a great little tool all around.

Fireworks in Holland… don’t even get me started on that completely asinine local custom. You’d think a country that in recent history had complete cities levelled by enemy bombs would be recoiling from explosions… but alas no. It’s the one time per year they get to actually let loose, the rest of the time they have to be their normal straight-laced rule-following Dutch selves, so I suppose that’s why New Year’s is so insane in Holland! 🙂

15 01 2009

I agree about the fireworks. Hands down! But I wanted to say great for you for beginning those lessons! I am finding out I hadn’t completed everything!!! :S I found out through another expat from North America… I was so bummed by this! Here I thought I had it all under control after I finished my NT2 and did the exams, but sure enough it wasn’t over. I thought it was strange how simple it was to get it over with as fast as I did. But here’s the kicker: Nobody’s contacted me about anything, and it was this way in the beginning for me as well. I had to find it out on my own. So… At least I had planned on working on more Dutch language this year.

By the way, we still have fireworks going off in my neighborhood. Nightly at about 8 PM, someone is letting off those kaboomers.

17 01 2009
Canucky Woman

First a note to Isabella: A lot of people are being told that they aren’t “finished”, including me, but the system right now is a mess, and the bureaucrats have no clue. They have a quota to fill with students, they don’t have enough, and they’re trying to make people go for more classes and take more tests who don’t have to. As far as I’m concerned, you did the NT2, you are under no obligation to do more…You can learn for yourself now.

Oh Melissa…I wish you luck. You are so bringing back memories…of teachers who think they have a right to tell full-grown adults where to sit…of “one size fits all” classes that couldn’t give a rat’s patootie what’s best for you…sigh…You won’t be able to rely on your school to teach you unfortunately…It’s going to have to be up to you because they just aren’t equipped to provide individual attention.

I wouldn’t compare your progress with others’ however… Ignore the timelines of others — it’s not a competition or a race — and the learning will happen much easier at your speed. The goal is to learn, not just to pass a test, isn’t it?

That being said, I was under the impression that you have FIVE years to pass the test though…what’s this three and a half year crap?

I also have my fingers crossed that you don’t have a problem with going on vacation. A few weeks into my course, some administrative dweeb visited our BEGINNERS classroom of to lecture the class (in Dutch) about how they were not ALLOWED to go on vacation except during official school breaks. The only reason I sussed on was because our teacher (one of the rare sweethearts, who, of course, was laid off at the end of term) was totally irate at the interruption and for talking down to us that way, and told me so.

But, under the old system, we had to attend 80% of classes…and yes, absence for illness was still an absence…

I’d do your research because they won’t just voluntarily tell you these things (in English anyways). You have to ask.

And fireworks?Oy…don’t get me started…

17 01 2009

Maryka – Thanks for the info! I downloaded that dictionary as soon as I saw it.

Isabella – Now that I know about the “glitches” I’ll be sure to double check and ask all the proper questions! The last thing I want is to have to do this again.

CW – I pretty much told the teacher and the school that I’m leaving. They put up a fuss for a few moments but I said, “I’m working with you on coming to class and being here on time, you can work with me” I told them that I dont have a problem doubling up on my classes to make up lost time. I’m not in the class room setting so maybe that made a difference. As for the time, they changed it from 5 years to 3.5 for anyone that arrived after 2007.. GOOD TIMING MELISSA! I’m going to chug through this and then hopefully once I get a job I’ll pay for a tutor or take classes at the University.

19 01 2009

How odd I came after 2007 and I dont have to officially pass my test until 2013. I think every town has different rules..I hear things from other people that I havevt heard here. I told them I wasnt going to any class and they gave me the option of going to the college. We are moving over the border into germany before 2013 so I actually dont need to worry about the classes anymore..lol Best of luck to you!!!

20 01 2009
Jayne Aych

Congratulations on learning Dutch! I have a dear friend who has Dutch parents and I used to love to hear her speak Dutch. Stick with it and it will get easier!

27 01 2009

Hoi Melissa,

Succes met het Nederlands leren, en vooral succes met de taaie procedures hier… Plaatsvervangende schaamte kleurt mijn wangen rood… In other words, I’m terribly sorry to represent such a monster of bureaucracy. (I’m sure that’s spelt totally wrong).

Als je hulp wilt met de taal; e-mail gerust!

Groeten, en veel geluk!

9 02 2009

I found the book “Concise Dutch Grammar” to be pretty good at explaining things grammar wise, and if I recall correctly it has a really good section on how to make plurals! *L*

23 03 2009
Lydia Lindemann

You want to learn Dutch in Amersfoort?
You want to have fun while doing so?
Have a look at my website and contact me if you like.


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