Dutch, Story Time

One Year Immigrant Anniversary

Oh boy I’m writing my first blog after two months of incredibly hard work. I have so much I want to share and not all of it is related to the house for those who couldn’t care less about the renovations, fret not I have other content heading your way. We just need to build our office desk so I can just sit and pump out work left and right. That came out wrong. Did it? Am I just over sensitive because I have to relearn how I write blogs? But anyway you’ve seen the title so you know what this blog is about but let me do the introduction and build myself up to it. Seriously how did I write blogs before?

The second of June has been a special day to me these last few years. The man of my dreams, my husband, birthday is on that day. So back in May 2017, we received my VISA. After getting the acceptance letter we had to wait two weeks as my approval didn’t show up in the system and we couldn’t get the stamp in my passport before it finally showed up. My big goal was to arrive before Onno’s birthday as the perfect birthday present because let’s face it his future wife being there for his birthday without ever having to leave again is a pretty good present. Things managed to work out and I landed on his birthday last year. So it’s safe to say that on Saturday we had a lot to celebrate. Added to the list of things to celebrate we had our first week in the house which still feels unreal. I worked incredibly hard this last week to unpack almost everything so the house could feel more like the home by Saturday.

We woke up bright and early to Speculoos running into the bedroom and jumping on the bed with his packet of treats. Treats he jumped up on the bookcase to get to. Treats that if he eats to much of he gets the runs. Hence why I put it in high places I thought he wouldn’t be able to reach. After Onno chased Speculoos down the stairs to get his treats, while he was downstairs he made me cup of tea because he is just that great. I do need to add I sang happy birthday to him six times. I’m incredibly tone deaf so it borderlines on torture. While we had our breakfast in bed my dad called and sang happy birthday in the same tone deaf brilliance that I inherited from him.  After the phone call Onno and I went downstairs to bake the milktart (a South African delight that Onno loves) before attempting to work on some small things around the house. After about an hour a nap was in order to restore the balance in the universe. A few hours later we resurfaced to get back to work. I once again sang to Onno till he left the bedroom to escape my brilliance. We very slowly got to work on the small things left to do in the house, mainly putting up a storage space on top of the washing machine and putting up the last bit of handles in the kitchen (a hole needed to be drilled in before we could put the handles on). While I started preparing the pork roast Onno finished the mini bookcase in the office. We stopped there for the day well it’s his birthday we can’t work the entire day. It was a nice day. We got some work done around the house, we relaxed and watched our favorite series together on the couch like the good old times and then enjoyed an incredibly delicious pork roast meal followed by dessert. We ended our night with a bubble bath, boy oh boy our bath in the new house is magical.

Honestly it still blows my mind that I’m living in the Netherlands now permanently. I’ve never been here for one year straight without going back to South Africa. Onno and I never had one uninterrupted year together. This last year was a crazy whirlwind of emotions, 2018 being the roughest emotional roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on, but I’m so incredibly happy to be with him. I’ve said incredibly a lot in this blog post. No idea where that is coming from. But anyway back to the blog; a year ago I never would’ve imagined where we are today and I’m just so excited to see what the next year will bring us. I have no idea where I’m going with this. I’m mainly just so happy, overwhelmed, emotionally unstable, tired, blessed and so much more.

A quick little side note before I end the blog (I really need to get back to work. We’re building our office desk today.) I failed the speaking part of my Dutch as a second language test AGAIN. It’s so incredibly frustrating. This time I failed with 9 points. Come on man throw a girl a bone! Anyway I will attempt another round later this year as well as starting to prepare for my immigration test (I have another two years to do that but who knows how easy that will go down). I’m also going to start the process of getting my driver’s license. Unfortunately my South African drivers license doesn’t mean shit here so I have to redo the entire process (yes I’m still butt hurt about this fact). We really needed me being allowed to drive when we moved and now that we live in a smaller ‘city’ further away from everything, we really need a car. Onno is going to do most of the driving but who knows, I might want to use it every now and again. I haven’t looked into it too much but hopefully I can scratch it of the list this year.

Alright that’s it for the blog. I’m sorry that I’m all over the place. I wish there was more I could say about my one year as an immigrant anniversary (boy that’s an uncomfortable mouthful) but honestly we just ate, slept and worked on the house all day. Nothing special. I’m sorry for being absent so long, I really tried my utmost best to avoid it from happening but the renovations was full of surprises and I just couldn’t keep up with everything. It also didn’t help that throughout these last two months I’ve had some big dentist appointments (read actual torture) but I have three more appointments to go before I’m almost done for the year. And by almost done I mean I have to get two teeth implanted and that’s going to take another few months before the gums are healed enough. Hopefully it will go into next year because honey I’m so drained. So much pain. So tired. Anyway I’m going of track. I will be back to my regular updates moving forward with a lot of exciting things coming up. I will start sharing some house related DIY projects soon, but other than that…I’M BACK!

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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PS. For those who is reading The Girl Writing In The Train, a new chapter will only be up near the end of June or beginning of July. I want to catch up with my blogs before I return to my creative writing. I can’t get into the flow of things when I feel like I’m behind on the blog aspect of my website if that even makes sense. I hope you will understand.

Dutch, 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’!

 

Dutch, Story Time

I Spoke Dutch For A Week | Third Language

I decided to attempt a full week in my third language as that last little boost before my language test. It was quite an interesting learning experience and definitely helped to improve my skills in the language. Here is how it went.

Monday, Day 1

When I woke up I completely forget about my Dutch language promise and did the usual good morning’s with my husband. He didn’t have time to reply before my ah ha moment came and I repeated what I said in Dutch.

Goede morgen schatje. Heb je goed geslapen? | Good morning baby. Did you sleep well?

As Onno works all day I had the entire day to myself and it’s not like I talk to myself, well I do but inside my head most of the time so my Dutch really came out to play when Onno came home. I also received some disappointing news on Monday and I forced myself to tell everything that happened in Dutch instead of just throwing in the towel and switching over to English. The rest of the evening went well.

Tuesday, Day 2

It went smoothly. I remembered to speak Dutch from the get go and did just that. I made a few slip ups but you could follow me and understand what I’m trying to say. It was getting there.

Wednesday, Day 3

I started getting the hang of it, but at the same time it started getting harder to keep my concentration. I can’t really say if it’s because of all the Dutch and the level of concentration I need to speak proper Dutch, or if it was my family worries. Basically I would start speaking Dutch without any thought about it but it didn’t always end up well because my full concentration wasn’t on it.

Thursday, Day 4

Around this time I was getting a little sick and tired of it if I’m honest. It was annoying to have to concentrate and rethink every single word before you say it. Although I really can’t tell if my family worries played any factor in this. I still spoke Dutch although I was tempted to throw in the towel. Yeah. It was okay. It was difficult to keep going and try to actually speak proper Dutch and not just throw some words together.

Ate apple – Dutch when I don’t concentrate

I ate an apple – Proper Dutch when I concentrate

So you can see why I need to concentrate when I speak Dutch.

Friday, Day 5

It was a really suck-ey day and I barely spoke but the little I did speak was in Dutch so yay?

Saturday, Day 6

My normal Dutch without much concentration was improving and although my emotional state was still on the low side I was getting there. I kept to my promise by only speaking Dutch so I did have my pride to push me through my last few days.

I ate apple – Dutch when I don’t concentrate

I ate an apple – Proper Dutch when I concentrate

Sunday, Day 7

I was emotional, frustrated and just over it. I was tired of having to struggle through my sentences and conversations but I pushed through. I didn’t speak a hell of a lot but I still staid Dutch.

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This entire week would’ve gone a hell of a lot better if my mental state was better that is clear but at the same time I still stayed true to my promise and spoke Dutch 95% of the time. 5% was when I slipped up with Onno (I would repeat myself in Dutch when I noticed) and when I spoke to family members. To explain a little, my father heard he had to go under the knife and since I’m so far away…well it’s really nerve wracking. It feels horrible to be so hopeless. I tried to stay positive but it was difficult because I knew my father needed me, I could hear it in his voice but I couldn’t physically go to him and help him. It hurts and it will never stop hurting. You always want to support and help your parents. Onno and I did step in and tried to help where we can but yeah there is only so much you can do when you’re on the other side of the world. I’m still proud of my progress I made this week. I started picking up on my most frequent mistakes and now that I know them I can try to nip it in the bud. It still slips out and it grind my gears but I almost always pick it up and fix my mistake.

For all my Dutch readers this one is for you. So my most frequent mistake that basically slips out every two minutes is “reg”. Now in Afrikaans this word can mean many things; right (you’re right) and ready. But in Dutch you won’t ever use the word in that context and that’s when I run into a wall. It’s GOED en KLAAR. I’m repeating this for myself for a little extra reminder. It’s only “reg” when it’s “regs” for turn right or when you’re talking about the law. It’s honestly the finer details that always gets me.

I’m learning slowly but I’m definitely getting there. I won’t rate myself as being fluent in Dutch but if I have to score myself then I would give myself 8,5 out of 10. My biggest hurdle I need to surpass is my confidence when speaking Dutch with complete strangers. If someone puts me on a spot I get nervous and my Dutch comes out all poop-ey and if a stranger does this it just gets ten times worse. I even struggled to speak Dutch to my mother in law the first time. I just get so embarrassed. It’s something I’m sure will pass and I’m sure once I get my results it will give me a big boost of confidence. That and when I start my job I will just have to get used to it. I’m more nervous about getting a job and speaking understandable Dutch the entire day with so many strangers than my big language test. All well. I just have to put my head in the game and get it done.

 

Story Time

The Airplane Flight Straight From My Nightmares

I can’t be the only one that despises anything related to the oh so famous metal bird. The idea of flying sends a little chill down my spine and not for the reason you might think. I’m perfectly okay with the actual flying part and in these last two years I’ve racked up quite a large amount of hours in the air. If only my experience in the machine was pleasant.

I was 19 years old when I flew for the very first time. The experience was new and aside from the fact that the gentleman seated in front of me took a bunch of pills which set a panic throughout the flight attendants. I must say it sure beat the entertainment system, I mean someone was being slapped through the face by a bunch of people. This was also the time I learned the hard way that taking the window seat doesn’t go well.

My fourth flight is the one that takes the candle as my worst airplane flight to date. It was my flight back to South Africa (from the Netherlands) after my tourist VISA (90 days) expired. I was emotional about leaving so that didn’t help. Two connecting flights. The first one took an entire hour to leave the damn airport. The air felt so stuffy. I was trying my best to stay patient and ignore the frustrating co-flyers but my patience level dropped steadily. Not enough to take it out on poor mothers and fathers trying their utmost best to entertain their children but enough to grow a fierce headache. All good so far right? A hour delay? That’s nothing. Oh I’m getting to the good part.

I’ve already mentioned the hour delay so I will jump right to the part that makes my teeth clench from actual physical pain. There was two hours in between my flights and not a lot of time to spare. If you’re a frequent flyer the chance that you’ve been to this airport is very high. Doha. Dubai. If you have yet to experience the luxury that is this airport to break it down its massive. Think of the biggest shopping mall or theme park you’ve ever seen and then triple that size. My two flights were literally at the opposite ends. I was so close to my boarding gate when it happened. Sorry I got to add some mystery here and really build the entire thing up. It’s a big deal to me.

Someone called: “Cassandra!” Cassandra being my name and the chance that there was another Cassandra in the airport, in the exact location I was at 2am in the morning is so small I responded to my name in a panic. Now you got to know I was mid run (trying to find and get to my gate in time) and carrying a shit ton of weight on my one side. The beloved laptop that I’m using to write this very blog. With all my important documents in the mix my laptop bag weights over 10kg. The weight is not that important but just the action I took when I heard my name. I turned to the voice so quick, I got whiplash. Whiplash alone is nothing pleasant but the weight threw things off even more. A horrible snap sound followed and a blaring pain shot through my entire body. The pain so intense I nearly screamed like a little girl and dropped my laptop. The searing pain made it unbearable to even lift my arms or move a inch. The last thing I wanted to do was fly for 9 hours.

Believe it or not, it gets worse. I got the middle seat. It doesn’t sound so bad right? I was in between two very large men that filled up my seat two and because I honestly didn’t want to share my personal space with these two strangers I tried my very best to make myself a thin as possible. This might come across as rude, but I want you to know I don’t mean it like that. I’ve been seated next to a little girl that barely filled her seat but was constantly in my seat with her toys. I also didn’t enjoy that experience. Okay now that we got that behind us let’s get to the part that actually made my entire trip worse.

These two men fell asleep on me. This could happen to the best of us I’m sure but it didn’t make my flight better to put it nicely. I tensed up which didn’t do my shoulder and neck any wonders after the injury. I had to fight the urge to cry from the pain shooting through my system. Oh but wait. It gets worse. Like seriously, how could it get worse? I mean just how much can a girl take before she cracks? I will answer that question at the end.

So I’ve mentioned the two men next to me and their complete disregard of my personal bubble. They also felt the great desire to strike up a conversation. Something I’m surprisingly not okay with. I love meeting new people but please don’t try to share your entire life story while I’m fighting the urge to throw up. My mother didn’t raise a twat so I friendly replied but kept the conversation brief. Again, these men disregarded my wishes. Before I could stop them, they whipped out their phones and proceeded to take pictures of me without my permission. At this point, I nearly lost it.

I can’t tell you why I never complained. To be honest I didn’t think I could. It was my fourth flight. I genuinely didn’t want to step on any toes. The flight however did manage to come to an end. Now, to answer the question: How much can a girl take before she cracks? It was landing. It dawned on me that it will be months before I see my loved one. It just made everything oh so much worse.

Story Time

My First Month (Back) In The Netherlands

I shouldn’t be feeling like this. I mean I’ve been in the Netherlands before. I love my husband more than anything in this world. I knew about the move when it became clear just how serious our relationship is. So why was it so difficult?

There isn’t an answer to that question to be honest. A part of me felt lost, confused and so unsure. I was emotional and overwhelmed. Something that came as a surprise to me. I always knew what I wanted in life but the big move threw things off for me. I suddenly started to doubt a few things. Some things didn’t go according to plan and others completely changed directions. It was something I had to come to terms with. Once I could accept that some things are out of my control and it’s okay not to immediately have my shit together; I relaxed. It was a breath of fresh air. I adjusted to the life here again. I found my feet and before I knew it a month has passed.

I spend my time discovering new and exciting things here in the Netherlands. We started bicycling here and there. We explored the city and then some. We got our precious boy, Speculoos. It was a great month. A great start in my new chapter of life.

I’m going to end this blog with a poem that I sucked out of my thumb. Prepare yourself.

New Beginnings

I’m writing this poem because I need more words for my blog.

I know this isn’t even a poem but that is because I’m not a poet.

I’m just going to make things up as I go and hope for the best.

I’m sorry it’s bad but it could be oh so much worse.

At least I can spell with the help of my computer of course.

 I will post an update about my life here in the Netherlands once I hit the three months mark. I will probably have a lot more to say. It’s on the 2nd of September in case you were wondering.

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Story Time

The Big Move: Immigrating From South Africa To The Netherlands

This blog was interestingly enough difficult to write. There is only so much I can say about the move and why I did it. I can go into detail that I left my home country to be with my beloved in his country. I can go into detail about the absolutely horror that happens in my home country as we speak. I can do all that, but yet it doesn’t feel like the reason why I left. Yes, it contributed to my decision but it’s so much more than that.

I fell in love with the Netherlands not long after I came here the first time around. One day I took my bicycle and just went for a ride through the country and it stole my heart. I loved everything about it. I loved how safe I felt. I loved the culture. I grew to love the language. I believe that everyone has a place that is home. South Africa just wasn’t that for me. And then I met Onno and it was just a cherry on top. I knew he was my future husband. I also knew that we will choose to live our life together in the Netherlands.

We discussed our options. Onno could move to South Africa. We could both immigrate to New Zealand or Australia. It wasn’t completely impossible for a South African. Onno is Dutch and with his degree he will have options all over the world. We had options. We really did. It just didn’t feel right. I just hated the idea of leaving the Netherlands behind. The country where I found myself.

The process leading up to the move was difficult. It was incredibly long and frustrating. We had to prove our relationship. We had to promise our intentions were pure. We had to endure months apart as we waited. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. There really isn’t much to say. I love living here in the Netherlands. It was a bit difficult to adjust and I was overwhelmed a few times. I miss my family and friends. I miss my culture and language. I miss a lot of things but I don’t regret my decision and I never will. This is my home now.

I wrote this the day I left as a little memoir.

2 June 2017

(Fun fact: I landed on Onno’s birthday! He truly received the best present he could’ve asked for!)

english letter***

afrikaans letter

Thank you for reading!

xoxo