This summer I am staying with a pastor's family in The Hague. The pastor, Peter, and his wife, Ina, have four daughters ranging from 23 to 15. Anke (ank-a), Lisette (Lee-zet-a), Gerjanne (hari-ana where the "g" makes a really hard "h" sound, almost like clearing your throat, I guess. We don't have the sound in English), and Henrieke (henri-ka). Honestly, I'm not sure if the pronounciation helps are entirely accurate, but they're closer than what it sounds like when you read it as an English-speaker. The older three are in college so if they come home, it's only on the weekends. I only have brothers, so suddenly having one to four girls running around is fun. My brothers usually spend their times with music or video games. It's so different to come downstairs and they're all sitting and talking.
They've all been very sweet. They make an effort to switch to English whenever I'm around, which is harder for some of them than for others. I'm kind of interested in learning Dutch, but I wonder how much I could learn in three months. I am, however, doing my best to experience being Dutch. I've tried different foods. I told the family that I have resolved that when I travel, I will at least try any food offered me. Now they know that if they put anything in front of me and say "It's very Dutch," I'll try it. I've tried a candy that tastes kind of like black licorice and my new favorite snack: hagel slaag, which is basically chocolate sprinkles. You butter bread and sprinkle it on top. America has Dutch influences... How did this not become a thing???! Yesterday, Gerjanne showed me around Amsterdam, and I had a very Dutch thing: raw herring with onions and pickles and a bun. (Yep, my breath was awesome after that). It was good. Salty, but good. I was considering taking pictures of my meals, but the whole instragram-ing your food thing seems like it's being done enough.
The other very Dutch thing to do is bike. As I mentioned in my last post, I haven't biked in over a decade. But everyone has a bike here, and it's how the family gets anywhere. Since at least one of the daughters usually isn't home, I've been given the use of one of their bikes. Problem: I have short legs. Once I'm on the bike, I'm fine...as long as I don't let go of the handles for any reason whatsoever (signaling is currently less important than falling on my face). However, I still have trouble getting on and off...which I have to do every time I stop. I tend to hurt my tailbone or my ankle or keep nearly falling over. I haven't fallen yet, and apparently watching me try is highly entertaining.
We like discussing traditions and customs in our two countries. I'm still not sure we've figured out each other's school systems, but we're getting there. I enjoy learning about our differences. For instance, when I come home for the day, I change into something more comfortable, usually my pajamas. I've noticed that they've frowned in confusion a couple times at me, but I never asked why. They're in comfortable looking clothes, and I don't want to wear my business casual clothes longer than I have to. Today they actually asked and said that it was very wierd that I change into my pajamas. I then got my favorite quote of the trip so far: "When you do strange things, we just say you are American, and Americans are weird." Haha...I think I'll close on that note.
I'm keeping a Facebook album of my pictures. I will include the link in the blog if I've added any more.