General Life Tips, Story Time

I Got A Present From My Mommy Dearest | NT2 Update

My Thursday morning started with going online and fighting the internet because for some reason it couldn’t open the website or it will shut down once I click on the ‘see results’ tab. I should explain a little. So remember five weeks ago I wrote my NT2 or Dutch as a second language test. It was finally time to see the results and boy could I hardly breathe while waiting for the internet to finally get its shit together. So I clicked enter after putting in my details, closed my eyes and blocked the screen with a piece of paper. After a few minutes I grew a pair and finally checked. Boy did I get a sucker punch. Please give me a few minutes while I rant. Just skip it but also feel free to read because it’s probably entertaining.

What the actual fuck man. I mean I failed the one test (writing) with 8 points. 8 points. Throw a bitch a bone man. I mean 8 points. Now I have to redo the test just to make an extra 8 points. Like come on! 8 points. 492. That’s a lot of points. The worst part is I have no idea where I went wrong. It wasn’t a test I was that worried about afterwards. The only part that made me second guess the success of the test was the two long questions at the end. They asked for 180 words and I gave them 350 easy. It could go two ways. First they only mark the first 180 words and then leave out the rest or mark everything as is. I suspect they only marked the first 180 words. That’s the only way I could lose so many points and fail. I really can’t think of how else I lost those 8 points. It was just really disappointing if I’m upfront with you. I worked really hard and studied my ass off and now I have to redo it again. What a sucker punch.

I failed the speaking test too. It wasn’t a super close call like the writing test but 37 points from passing is still pretty frustrating if you catch my drift. The speaking test is the one that made me panic and I honestly thought I would be lucky if I get half of the stuff correct but then again it still feels pretty disappointed that I failed. I don’t want to fail. I also really don’t want to retake this test. It was fucking horrible. I hated that test so much and now I have to do it again. It just really was a blow and I know it’s not that big and all but it does change my future plans a little bit. I think the worst part outside retaking the test is just how frustrating it. I just really wanted that part of my life behind me but now I have to wait weeks before I can retake the test and then wait weeks for my results. The positive thing is I know exactly what to expect and can properly prepare myself.

The one thing that really worried me was how this could affect my studies. I’ve been trying to start my studies a few years now. I’ve been ready but there is always something that needs to be done that takes months. My studies start in March and hopefully I can still start even though I won’t have all four certificates by the time I start. Oh that’s a messy sentence. All in all. It would have been wonderful if I passed all four tests but there is nothing I can do about it now. I just need to stand up, dust myself off and make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself either. The test isn’t known to be easy and at that point I was probably actively studying Dutch for four  months. I mean this test is for people who are fluent in the language. I was close, 80% fluent so it really just adds to the frustration. But anyway there is nothing I can do about it and after sulking for a few hours I’ve moved on. I will probably make the appointment for the next test this weekend. It takes six weeks so I have time to prepare.

Now let’s move on to the good stuff. So I mentioned my sulking and pity part already but the results couldn’t have came on a better day because today I was expecting a package from my mommy dearest. I went out in the cold and picked up my package, basically sprinted home, died a little carrying the package up four flight of stairs before switching on Facebook Live and digging in. Boy I was like a little kid on a Christmas morning. My mom went all out with this package. All my favorites treats. Three packets of my favorite soft candy in the world. Two bar of chocolates that’s literally heaven. Six packets of rice chips in a flavor that is home and so much more. Speculoos even got some toys and the husband is just as obsessed with his present. It was truly just what I needed to end my day and got me out of my pity party and into a yay I can’t wait to stuff my face party.

I will be honest. Its hard sometimes to be so far away from family and the country that was your home and all you knew for nearly two decades and it will probably always be hard but festive season just takes it up a notch. I get homesick and I wish I can have my family by my side as I celebrate this season but I signed up for this when I made the big move. I will find a way to deal with the homesickness I’m sure but for now I’m just going to feel what I feel and enjoy my time here with my two favorite boys. (Okay I have three but my dad doesn’t even count. I mean he is my dad. He is included.)

Here is the picture of my big present. Quite impressive isn’t it? I’m so happy right now. I already made quite a big dent in it as I’m writing this and you bet your sweet little booty by the time this blog goes online there will be another big dent in it. I can’t wait. I’m going to stuff my face.

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General Life Tips

5 Things That Never Leaves My Handbag

I’ve learned the hard way that going out in the public eye unprepared can make life unnecessarily difficult and thus over time I have started to assemble five things that makes life easier in general. I never leave the house without it.

  1. Medicine Bag

This is my top one. I suffer from hay fever and toothache so I never leave the house without hay fever tablets, eye drops, pain pills and band aids because I’m clumsy.

  1. Gluten Free Snacks

As someone who has celiac it can become quite difficult to get a snack on the go when hunger strikes. I can’t exactly run in any shop and expect to find something to eat. So I always keep something small in my handbag to snack on; cookies or pretzels. Although I do have to add that in the Netherlands every AH (supermarket), which is basically everywhere, has snack fruit and vegetables that I can eat if I don’t have any gluten free snacks to put in my bag. I will put a plastic spoon in my bag if I plan to buy fruit or vegetables but otherwise nuts is a good last minute snack. All in all, I always have some type of snack or food in my handbag.

  1. Hand Sanitizer

This one is critical for me. If I can’t wash my hands when I touched something gross this one really comes in and save the day. I also use it when I go to a public bathroom to disinfect the toilet seat before I sit down. I’m very aware how dirty and gross a public bathroom can be.

  1. Tissues

This one kind of goes hand in hand with the medicine bag and hay fever problem of mine. That and it’s nearing winter here and I catch a cold by just looking at the cold and gloomy weather outside. I started carrying tissues all year around in my handbag after I went to a public bathroom and there was no toilet paper. Now it just serves as a good safety net.

  1. Hand Cream and Lip Balm

My hands go dry and rough in the winter so I never leave the house without hand cream. Otherwise I pick at the dry skin and just makes things worse. I have dry lips all year around and I constantly loose lip balm so days will go by without any moisturizing. I have a horrible habit to play with the loose skin and will often chew on my lip till it bleeds. Dry skin drives me insane. I learned if I have a separate lip balm that never leaves my handbag it’s always there to save the day.

Bonus: Feminine Products

Hey it’s better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes there can be a little surprise outside your shark week so you can never be to safe. I always carry an extra panty with me in case the little surprise ruins my day.

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This blog post was a little out of the blue if you ask me. I was just cleaning out my handbag the other day when it popped into my head. Take what you will from this post. I’m a clean and most likely control freak or as I always say; I’m always very well prepared. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Basically somewhere in my life came a time where I wished I had one of these things in my handbag but I didn’t and it was a bitch to deal with. It really doesn’t take any extra effort to put these things in my bag before I leave (I never take it out of my bag either) and it has saved the day since then.

General Life Tips

Dutch As Your Second Language | NT2

This post is for everyone who wants to take the test to officially make Dutch your second language. As some of you might know, if you want to live and make a life inside of the Netherlands eventually you will have to get that certificate. I need it for my future studies and job.

I wrote all four tests on the 1St of November and the 2nd of November 2017 and there is a few things I wished I knew before I went in.

Writing

The thing I found the most difficult with this test was the subjects. There is two parts, each part has six questions. You will get different emails or short letters you will have to finish. They will give you guidelines as in write about this and that. You don’t get a spell check but you do get access to a dictionary (your own). I just found it difficult to fill in the blanks as the subjects are so random. They definitely test to see how quick you’re on your feet. It’s not that horrible, just keep an open mind. They do say it can be fantasy so it’s not the end of the world. I’m just a writer so I want everything to be a certain way and flow so that’s why I found the test difficult and frustrating. They also give you a word limit. That is hell to me. How can I possibly limit myself to 150 words? I can write 200 words in five minutes.

Speaking

The entire test was pure panic. I freeze up when someone puts me on the spot and that’s basically what the test did. They give you a few seconds to think about the question and then BEEP Speak as quickly as you can to say everything you have to say and don’t forget proper Dutch and pronunciation! Oh and don’t forget that grammar! BEEP Oh I really hope you said everything you had to? Oh you didn’t? Well that’s too bad. It was just pure panic for me. I would freeze up and to be honest I’m not sure what language I was speaking in the end but I somehow got through it. It was hell. I will be honest. What was so funny was before the test I was most worried about being able to speak with 30 other students in the classroom. How funny. I guess a way to prepare for this test is to test yourself in a similar setting. Get random questions or subjects where you have to give your own opinion on it. Then time yourself with reading the question, processing the question and thinking of your response and finally time your response. Record your response so you can hear it back and see where you went wrong.

Reading

This test was the easiest one for me. You basically get different articles with a few questions on them. You then have to choose between A, B, C, D. There is no tricks to it. You have all the test time to complete it so there is no pressure or rush.

Listening

Oh, the boredom. Honestly this one made me want to bang my head against the table. Basically you listen to a few people speaking while being interviewed. The interviewer ask questions and then you have to hear the answer that fits with your A, B, C, D choice. They give you more than enough time between every questions. Unfortunately if you know your answer in the first five seconds after listening to the interview you have to wait a minute if not more before you can move on to the next question. This drove me up against a wall. Honestly a sea turtle could be born, live 100 years and then die and you would still be waiting for the next question.

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If you study hard enough and your Dutch is at a high level than all of these tests would be a breeze in the park.

Good luck and ‘Succes’!

 

General Life Tips

How To Learn A New Language

There is four parts to the process of becoming relatively fluent in a language. There is writing, speaking, reading and listening. As some of you might know for the last few months I’ve been actively studying the Dutch language. I would rate myself an 8 out of ten in all of those 4 parts meaning I know my stuff when it comes to learning a language. Before I share this knowledge with you I do want to state very clearly that learning a new language isn’t easy and will take some time. It will also come with quite a few frustrations but give it time. You will get there.

The perfect place to start is listening. Listen to the radio and watch movies where the language is the only language. I would recommend kid movies with English subtitles to start off with. The more you hear the language the better. Some words will start to stick in your brain and the language will stop sounding so strange and different as you familiarize yourself with it on a daily basis.

Speaking is the next up on line. Now that you’ve heard the language and have familiarized yourself with the basics you can start speaking it. The best possible thing would be for you to speak out loud with people of that native language so they can correct and help you with your pronunciation but otherwise just follow along with movies. The more you speak in this language and the more you practice your pronunciation the better it would be. Don’t worry about grammar and all that jazz. You will pick that up with time and the reading and writing part will help a lot.

Reading pretty much can go in hand with speaking and writing. I read kid novels out loud with someone of the native language where I concentrated on pronouncing the words correctly and also learning new words as I go. Thus not only did I widen my knowledge inside the language I also practiced the speaking part. It’s a win, win.

Writing is the last part. I started off by rewriting a kids novel. This taught me to recognize the grammar more and get used to writing the language. Also by writing the words down, reading those words before you write it just hammers down the language even more. Once I felt my level was high enough where I could write on my own I found 101 conversation starters online and would answer these questions in Dutch. You can do this by answering this question out loud as if talking to someone or writing it down as being interviewed. This was a brilliant practice that really took my Dutch to another level.

All in all you really just need to give yourself time to learn the language. You won’t be fluent and perfect overnight. Just take on day at a time and keep trying. Best of luck!

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PS I want to be fluent in five languages and I’m currently on number three. The most difficult language I want to learn is Japanese. I think the next language is a tossup between French, Spanish or Italian. I can’t choose yet. I’m definitely going to give myself more time before I jump in with another language. Learning a new language can be quite exhausting. Best of luck!!

PS. For all of my fellow friends that want to ace the Dutch as a second language test; I wrote a blog just for you! Here is the link: https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/11/10/dutch-as-your-second-language-nt2/

General Life Tips, Story Time

What To Expect When Getting A Kitten

We can all come to an agreement that kittens are the reason why the sun comes up every morning. Kittens are wonderful little ball of furs and if your thinking about getting one then please do. There is a few things you should know but finer details. I’m just kidding. Here is my finer details.

Speculoos (Speculoos is a ginger spread here in the Netherlands. It’s like gingerbread and fudge had a lovechild. Its heaven) has been a part of our family for nearly two months now and although I’ve enjoyed every last second of it. You also need to know of the ugly that happens behind the scenes.

  1. Cat Claws

Any cat and I mean any cat will scratch. It’s a thing. It’s not going anywhere so if you want a cat just know claw marks is your new best friend.

  1. Bite The Human

Oh and they love to bite. They’re teeth is razor sharp so sign yourself up for some bite marks. Don’t worry, the scratch marks will always be the winner.

  1. Litter Box What?

This one is probably my least favorite one. When they’re in a new surrounding they don’t usually know straight of the bat where they’re litter box is. Read: Pee and poop everywhere.

  1. Cat Hair Everywhere

This one like with any animal you keep inside the house is to be expected really. Cat hair will get everywhere but simply groom your fur baby with a brush every day. I just bought a baby hair brush. It really doesn’t need to be fancy. Your cat will groom itself on the most part. Just get those loose hairs that causes those hairballs.

Trick: To remove cat hair from furniture and clothes take normal tape, wrapped it around your hand sticky side up and just dab dab dab. Your kitten will see this as a fun game and help.

  1. Sleepless Nights

Cats are night creatures. Get used to this idea because I can promise you now your little fur baby won’t see your foot hanging out from the side of your bed as a sign to leave you alone your sleeping but instead of something to chew on. I’m saying this as Speculoos is biting my toe.

  1. Whiny Husband Because He Isn’t Getting Enough Attention Anymore
  2. People Don’t Come To Visit You. It’s All For The Kitten

Honestly it’s amazing and I love my boy so much. It melts my heart when he starts to purr when I pet him and never leaves my side. He even grooms me at every chance he gets. He sleeps in my neck and licks my ears. He is my sweetheart. If you want a bucket load of cat pictures of my fur baby head on over to his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speculoos_the_cat/?hl=en

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General Life Tips

Think Before You Ink: Tattoo Advice

(1) A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes and pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattoos fall into three broad categories: purely decorative (with no specific meaning); symbolic (with a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer); pictorial (a depiction of a specific person or item).* That’s as technical as I’m going to get with the subject.

If your thinking of getting your first tattoo there is a few things I want you to do, but first let me tell you where I’m coming from with this wisdom. I was 17 when I got my first tattoo, a tramp stamp, a term I learned after I got the butterfly permanently inked on my body. I went to the first tattoo shop I could find, paged through the book for not even ten minutes, put two designs together and that was it. The next minute I was hunching over experiencing the pain of over a thousand needle pricks. I’ve had this tattoo for nearly five years now and I don’t regret it…completely. What I do regret is not spending more time on the design and choosing the right artist for me. I still love the piece because of what it stands for. Plus it’s on my back so it’s not like I see it every day.

My second, third and fourth tattoo was just as impulsive as the first one. They were done by a tattoo artist that really shouldn’t tattoo people. They’re doing more harm than good. I have one botched up tattoo to prove it. Pro tip: It hurts more if the artist doesn’t know what they’re doing. When my fifth tattoo rolled around I’ve managed to learn from my mistakes. I spend two weeks thinking and rethinking my design, creating my own original and custom piece. I then did my research and found the right tattoo artist for the job. Ribs are a tricky place. The result is a tattoo that I love and cherish not only because of the meaning behind it but how great it looks! The trend so far has continued with my latest tattoos.

If you haven’t been able to conclude what I’ve been trying to teach you during my little recap of tattoo fails I will bullet point it for you down below.

  • Tweak and re-tweak your design
  • Do your research: tattoo artist and shop

Also as a side note, you have to be prepared of what people might say and do. As annoying as this next sentence will sound; strangers, acquaintances, friends, family, co-workers, your pet…might have their own two cents to say about your tattoo. It’s frustrating and none of their business but unfortunately even though the times has changed – not everyone agrees with the art of tattoo. AND it’s completely okay. Everyone is different. That’s the great thing about mankind. We are all our own unique blend of cookie dough.

Source(s):

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo

Get inked or die naked…

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General Life Tips

So You Want To Au Pair Abroad? This Is What You Need To Know…

Leaving home isn’t always easy. So going abroad for a set amount of time and taking on the big responsibility of being an Au pair isn’t for everyone. BUT it’s an experience like no other and something I’m so happy and grateful for being able to have done. It’s life changing and eye opening. If it’s something you’re interested in then don’t let fear stop you. I was an Au pair in the Netherlands for one year with two kids. I can honestly say that it has changed me as person like no other experience could’ve.

  1. Kiddie Love

This probably sounds funny and obvious but I really can’t express it enough. You really need to love children and I mean all the different parts of it. The good and the bad. Children aren’t always easy. They’re going to test your limits and really see just how patient you can be. There will be days when you honestly don’t want to deal with the same nonsense and there will be days you love your host kids so much that the idea of leaving them physically hurts.

  1. Country Love

If you’re going to au pair in another country it really needs to be a country YOU are interested in. It’s going to be your new home for a year so it really needs to be a place you feel like you can fit in, experience new things and really embrace and learn from the culture.

  1. Host Parents

Please take your time with choosing a host family/parents. Don’t just choose a family because they chose you and your scared you won’t find a family. No. Kick this idea right out of your head. These people are not only going to be your family and basically the baseline in this strange and new country but they’re also going to be your boss. You have to have similar views and interest or it won’t always be a breeze in the park.

  1. Au Pair Friends

Having Au pair friends is really a blessing in disguise. They’re experiencing the exact same thing than you are: the frustrations that can come with looking after kids, the home sickness, the struggles with the new culture and language and overall they’re your support in this new environment. They’re your comedian relief. They’re someone to have fun, unwind and most importantly to grow with.

  1. Wise Company Choices

Choose your company wisely. They’re going to effect the entire experience in ways you won’t imagine. You can get absolutely wonderful companies that truly carries your best interest to heart, but then you get horror companies that basically…to put it nicely screw you over. Do your research on the company, specially Google their names with words like scandal, horrible company etc. If someone didn’t have a great experience with them it will be somewhere on the internet. Go to their Facebook page, try to contact other au pairs that went through them and not just that, go with your instinct. If you feel good about the company then that’s all you need to know. I recommend House-o-Orange for my South African Au Pairs: https://www.house-o-orange.nl/

Take the leap and Au pair. At least once.

child-594519PS: It’s not always going to be fun and games but again, it’s a great experience. You really ‘grow up’ while you Au pair. If you’re interested, go for it!

 

General Life Tips

How To Make A Long Distance Relationship Work

Relationships aren’t always easy. Its filled with great memories and pointless arguments. The other day my husband and I was arguing if the pasta in the container was gluten free or not. We went into great detail with references and we still couldn’t come to a conclusion. Onno still stands by the fact that it was gluten free pasta. He’s dead wrong in case you were wondering. We’ve been together for two years now and more than half of that time we spend apart with 10 000km between us. We weren’t even in the same country. Onno is born and bred in the Netherlands and I came out of a little hole in South Africa. After my VISA came to an end and I had no other choice but to go back home. There I  stayed for a year. Long distance relationships are ten times harder and you need to work double as hard. Doubts that you would never have in a normal relationship starts to pop up. Trust will go a long way.

  1. Stay in touch

This one probably sounds silly but you really need to stay in touch. Every morning send that lovely good morning message, update them throughout your day and then obviously never go to bed without a goodnight message. Include them in your day, tell them about the cat you saw or that weird person you saw on the train. You really need to put in the effort every day even if you both work 8 hours per day and nothing exciting happened..

     2.  Video call as much as possible

Really make it a habit to video call as much as possible. Seeing you loved one’s face can really make all the worlds of differences.

  1. Go on Dates

This probably sounds absolutely ridiculous considering I just mentioned there was 10 000km between us but hear me out. Oh the power of technology. We watched movies together which means we basically watch the exact same movie while Skype is on. We mute it and when we want to say something about the movie we signal the other one to pause. We did this at least twenty times. We also played games together (not as much though) which is basically the same concept as the movie date. You play the game and see who has the better score and etc. If I went to the beach with my family I would record a video. There was a lot of videos in general.

  1. Stay patient and talk about your feelings

As in any relationship you need to stay patient and open. Understand that there will be frustrations and the struggle will be real sometimes. Be completely open with your partner. Tell them when you’re having a bad day because you miss them more than anything in this world.

  1. Have that end goal

Having a date on when you will see each other again will make a massive difference. It’s something to look forward to and something that will make the distance feel a tiny bit smaller. Make it fun, plan what you’re going to do when you see each other again (after the welcome back cuddles obviously) and get that countdown going. The longest countdown we had in between seeing each other was 6 months.

It’s difficult but not impossible. If your love is true than it will work.

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General Life Tips

I’m 21 And I Have A Bucket List

When you think about someone with a bucket list, my best bet is that a healthy twenty one year old women doesn’t come to mind. It’s for the sick and dying. It’s for the dreamers. It’s for the paranoid humans that believe the world is ending. I don’t know…it’s a bunch of bullshit if you ask me. Why wait till it’s too late to start living your life? So I bought a book and started to write.

What do I want in life?

What memories do I want to make?

Some was quite plausible and expected: get married, buy a house, get my degree, move abroad, have children and etc. Now there is also a few things on the list that’s a bit crazy but something I will do mark my words.

Here is a few of my favorite Randoms:

Get a trust tattoo (I’m really okay with this one. My husband will choose the design and I’m really looking forward to it.)

Swim in the sea at midnight (Fun fact: I’m terrified of swimming in the sea. I get full blown panic attacks when in neck depth water in broad daylight. Yeah. Fun.)

Set of fireworks (Last time I was close to fireworks things went bad so this should be interesting)

Learn how to ballet dance (I’m not expecting miracles. I’m going to count a five year old routine as a success.)

Hold a spider for five minutes (Oh hell to the no. Sorry that was reflex.)

I firmly believe that you can’t live your life without ever stepping outside your comfort zone. I strive to challenge myself in every aspect of my life without going to stupid and dangerous means. So I made a list and every time something silly I want to do just for the sake that I’m alive and healthy and can do it I add it to my list. Every now and again I open my little book and see what I want to do. Life is short. I would hate to die without ever have lived.

So yeah, make that list and get out there and live.

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