Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nederlandse Kicked mijn achterste Tonight (Dutch Kicked My Rear Tonight)

I was very excited to get my Rosetta Stone Dutch tonight. So excited in fact, that I almost ran into the side of the garage looking for it on the front porch! Glad Jay wasn't home to see that. He already thinks I could improve my driving skills. That move would have only confirmed his suspicions.

I couldn't wait to get it loaded onto my computer. I came inside and started the process. All really very easy. You just pop in a cd and follow the prompts.

I was excited. I even bragged to my friend Amber that when I saw her in the morning I would know a few Dutch words. Now before we go any further, let me clarify that I was never a very gifted language student. I dabbled in Spanish (what student in Texas hasn't), and I took a couple semesters of American Sign Language in college. I was ok at both, but neither came naturally or easily to me.

Somehow, though, in my excitement to learn Dutch, these memories left me. Oh my goodness, how they came rushing back. For the record, Dutch is really hard... and nothing like English! Here is what I've found to be difficult so far.

1. Dutch letters don't make the same sounds they do in English (or even Spanish).

2. We don't even use some of the sounds in English that are used in Dutch...not even sort of.

3. It is hard to pronounce words correctly when you have a slight Texas Panhandle accent and are defaulting to Spanish pronunciation rules when in doubt. Really hard. Needless to say, I have a ways to go before the Rosetta Stone software will be accepting my pronunciations!

4. Some words look the same, but they aren't said anywhere close to the same way.

So, as I posted last night, I have grand intentions of learning some of the language, but wow...I was put in my place tonight! This is going to be quite a project.

The above post translated to Dutch...thanks to Google translator. Doesn't it just LOOK hard? Oh, and don't forget, it sounds NOTHING like it looks! I am truly amazed at people who are bilingual. Truly amazed.

Ik was erg opgewonden om mijn Rosetta Stone Nederlandse vanavond. Zo enthousiast in feite, dat ik bijna liep in de zijkant van de garage op zoek naar het op de front porch! Blij dat Jay was niet thuis om te zien dat. Hij denkt al dat ik kon verbeteren van mijn rijvaardigheid. Die bewegen zou slechts hebben bevestigd zijn vermoedens.

Ik kon niet wachten om het te krijgen geladen op mijn computer. Ik kwam binnen en begon het proces. Allemaal heel erg makkelijk. Je gewoon pop in een cd en volg de aanwijzingen.

Ik was opgewonden. Ik heb zelfs schepte met mijn vriend Amber, dat toen ik haar zag in de ochtend zou ik een paar Nederlandse woorden te leren kennen. Nu voordat we verder gaan, laat me duidelijk dat ik nog nooit was een zeer begaafd taal student. Ik geliefhebberd in het Spaans (wat studenten in Texas niet is), en ik een paar semesters in American Sign Language nam in het college. Ik was ok op beide, maar geen van beide kwam natuurlijk of gemakkelijk voor mij.

Een of andere manier, maar in mijn opwinding om Nederlands te leren, deze herinneringen me verlaten. Oh my goodness, hoe ze kwam haastig terug. Voor de record, Nederlands is echt moeilijk ... en niets als het Engels! Hier is wat ik heb gevonden om moeilijk tot nu toe.

1. Nederlandse brieven niet maken dezelfde geluiden die ze doen in het Engels (of zelfs Spaans).

2. Wij maken geen gebruik van een deel van de geluiden in het Engels die worden gebruikt in het Nederlands ... zelfs niet soort.

3. Het is moeilijk om woorden uit te spreken correct als u een lichte Texas Panhandle accent hebben en in gebreke gebleven aan de Spaanse uitspraakregels bij twijfel. Echt moeilijk. Onnodig te zeggen dat ik een manier te gaan voordat de Steen van Rosetta-software zal worden aanvaarden van mijn uitspraken hebben!

4. Sommige woorden zien er hetzelfde uit, maar ze zijn niet gezegd overal dicht bij de zelfde manier.

Dus, zoals ik gisteravond gepost, ik heb grootse plannen van het leren van een aantal van de taal, maar wow ... ik werd in mijn plaats vanavond! Dit gaat een heel project.

Tot ziens! (Learned I was saying that incorrectly tonight, too. It means good bye.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Week Back & A Clarification

It has now been a little over a week since I stepped foot back on home soil. It felt strangely good to be back in the States after being in The Netherlands, even if I was only gone a week. I was surprised how relaxed I felt as soon as the plane touched down in Boston. No longer would I have to feel self-conscious about not knowing the language! I hadn't even really realized how "tense" I was about that.

My solution?

I am eagerly awaiting its arrival! I am under no illusion of becoming a fluent speaker of the language, but I would at least like to be able to ask someone where a restroom is, how much an items costs, or if they speak English, IN DUTCH. I bought a phrase book while I was there which enabled me to recognize some words, but I have not a clue how to pronounce them. Jay and I laughed because I was trying to use my pronunciation rules from Senora Evans' Spanish class! Ha, somehow it just didn't sound right! 

Okay, for the clarification: Jay and I are NOT permanently moving to The Netherlands. We will be there until he finishes his degree, which will culminate at the end of September. At this point we are unsure where we'll be after that. We are keeping all options open, including coming back to Wyoming. This is one of the scary parts of this adventure, but we are trusting and continuing to pray that we will know where we should be.

Tot ziens!


I have read a lot about jet lag. I mean, in all of Danielle Steel's novels her heroine is jumping on a plane headed somewhere across the globe. In her stories, the lady would just check into the Ritz Hotel and sleep a few hours and then head off to her adventures in the big city. Going into this trip, I figured all I needed was a quick nap once I landed on either side of the pond.

Well...don't believe everything you read in Danielle Steel books! I had no idea what it could really do to you! Since I was only overseas for a week, I think my body was just starting to get used to that time zone when it was time to head back! It took several days to get back on track with the time difference, but after getting some extra sleep this weekend, I think I am caught up...

Just in time for Daylight Savings Time. With our time change this weekend, Jay and I are now seven hours apart instead of eight. The Netherlands does not participate in Daylight Savings Time...I guess that's neither here nor there, but now I have to adjust my mental math when I'm trying to figure out what time it is there. Just add seven hours. Needless to say, I'll be glad to get back on some sort of schedule with our calls!

Tot ziens!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Home Again, Home Again...Lessons Learned

I survived the long ordeal of getting back to Wyoming from The Netherlands. We woke up Saturday and left Jay's room at 7:30 a.m. (that's 11:30 p.m. Friday in Wyoming). We took the train to Amsterdam which is about a two hour ride. After the lines of checking in, customs, and security, my plane took off at 2:00 p.m. My flight "across the pond" took approximately seven and a half hours. I landed in Boston, caught a flight to Salt Lake City (another 5 hours!), and then rushed to my connection to Casper. Luckily that's only a 50 minute trek. By the time I picked up my luggage and got to the hotel in Casper, it was 11 p.m. (That's 7 a.m. in Enschede.) SO, almost 24 hours later, I'm back!

It was a fabulous trip. I was so excited to get to see Jay's new world. There's just so much you can't quite grasp through Skype. It was such an eye-opening experience, and I am so glad I got to meet some of the fabulous people he's become acquainted with.

There were a couple important lessons I learned from the trip.

1. Whenever possible, fly KLM. This is also known as Royal Dutch Airlines. They rock. They are so professional. They treat you like royalty even if you're only in economy class. Seriously, I can't say enough good about this airline!

2. No matter how different The Netherlands seems from America (and it is quite different), it was relatively easy to find some of our favorites at the grocery store. Oreos? Check. Doritos? Check...although they only had Nacho Cheese and Paprika? flavored. In our global society, it really is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between certain aspects of the cultures. The picture below is for an exercise class offered at Jay's school.

This cracked me up because I've done Zumba classes at my gym, and my cousin Britany is a huge fan!

3. Be wary of coffee shops in The Netherlands. I am not a big coffee fan {although I will say that the coffee the Omanis served (see post below) is the best I've had}, so I had no desire to venture into one of the many shops around town. But for those of you who enjoy your cup of joe and are wanting to visit Holland, beware! Apparantly, not all coffee shops there are created equally. Some serve coffee. They would be called cafes. Others serve up "stronger" stuff. If the coffee shop you're thinking of entering looks like the one posted below, sniff the air before you go in!

So, I guess it's back to life on the frontier for now. I'm excited to see everyone, especially my kiddos at school. I will continue to update here, so keep checking back. Jay promised to send me his pictures, so I can share his adventures as well.

Tot ziens!


I have no clue what kind of tree this is, but they are all over town in Enschede. Sometimes there is just one tree like in this picture, and sometimes there are two or three trees that look like they've grown together. I'm assuming they're pruned to grow this way, but I have no idea what kind it is. I have some researching to do. I'm very anxious to see what they look like in bloom!

Tot ziens!

Movie Night

On my last night in Enschede, a few of us decided to go see a movie. We rode the train to a different part of town where there is a theater (or cinema, as they say) that shows English movies with Dutch subtitles. Yes! We could understand something!

We went to see The Rite. It definitely was not my type of movie...too scary! I spent a good portion of it with my eyes closed and my ears plugged. Cornelius and Prince got a good laugh out of that.

There were two differences between watching a move "Dutch style" and the way you would in the States. First, there was an intermission. Exactly one hour into the show, a worker came in and pressed some buttons in a locked box on the wall. The movie paused and the lights came up. Everyone grabbed their purses and coats and headed out for a break. It lasted about fifteen minutes. The other thing that was different than our movie theaters is they have beer you can buy and take in with you. Grolsch is a beer brewed in Enschede, and boy are they proud of it! It's everywhere...even the movie theater!

Here are pictures of me waiting for the train, first with Jay then Prince.

Prince, Cornelius, and Jay pleased with their beverages before the show.

Tot ziens!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Church, A Synagogue, A Museum, and A Cemetery

On my wanderings around Enschede I have come across some very interesting sights. My favorites to photograph are the narrow streets with buildings looming directly over them. It's just too different from Canyon where we grew up! So, rather than bore you with the 354 pictures (ok, really not that many, but I do have lots of "street shots") of buildings standing closely together, I thought I would share some of the other sights around Enschede.

There are many beautiful churches around town. I posted a picture of one in an earlier post. This one, unlike the previous one, is still in use. It is just so large and magnificent! My camera was dying so I didn't get a chance to walk across the street to get the whole church, but here are the cast iron and wooden doors, standing up looking at the steeple from the front steps, and the sign.

I was lucky to stumble across this synagogue when I got lost the other day. Supposedly you can take tours of it, but I didn't see a sign saying that and Jay is much braver than I am about asking questions! So for now, I have pictures of the outside. Maybe this summer we'll go back and get a tour of the inside.

In Amsterdam there is a world-famous museum called Rijksmuseum. I haven't had the chance to see Amsterdam yet, but there is a local branch of the museum called Rijksmuseum Twenthe (Twenthe is like the state here). It was so affordable, only 7 euros, and has lots of art. They rotate pieces with the main museum in Amsterdam. I was a little disappointed they didn't have any works of Vermeer, but that gives me even more reason to make it to the main museum this summer. Some of it was very interesting like Bibles from the 1200s... some of it just not my thing...solid red canvases? Guess I should have taken an art appreciation course somewhere along the way!

I am fascinated with old cemeteries. Jay gets a kick out of it because anytime we run across one, I want to take pictures! I just think there's so much history there. I blame it on time I spent at the LaGrone Monument Company as a child, but whatever the reason, I think they are beautiful and reveal a lot about an area. I could probably do a whole post about this cemetery. It was amazing! From what I could decipher from the sign, it was in ruins until about 10 years ago when a local group decided to save it. It's very small, tucked away near the center of town.

I walked over to take a picture of this because I thought it had settled unevenly, but apparently they put the marker in at this angle. I wonder why?

Today is my last full day here. In the morning, we will board the train back to Amsterdam. I fly out in the afternoon and get back to Casper late late Saturday night. My trip has been wonderful, and I'm excited about everything I will see this summer!

Tot ziens!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Party in the U.S.A.!

That was the song played for us as we made our entrance into last night's "American Dinner". We were preparing American cuisine for some of Jay's classmates, and of course we were running late. When we finally got there the music was playing, and this was the song chosen for us to make our grand entrance. It made me smile.

In preparation for the dinner, we had a hard time choosing food that was dinstinctly "American." My favorite food is Mexican and since there's no Taco Villa around here, I couldn't treat them to a bean burrito or a meat burrito with green sauce. We bounced around several ideas, but most of them involved being baked in an oven (which we didn't have-stovetop only). We emailed our moms who both provided good ideas, but ultimately decided to do a shrimp boil. Problem solved. Right?

Well, sort of. One problem was we had to find corn...that took a visit to three grocery stores and a farmers' market to find the only eight ears of corn in Enschede. Very small chunks of corn in our boil!

We also needed some sort of seasoning mix. Believe it or not they don't sell Old Bay Seasoning here! We improvised by mixing our own. That involved finding a recipe online (easy enough), translating the ingredients into Dutch on the internet, and then finding them. We put them into a pocketed coffee filter, which worked so-so.

We also had to find a big stockpot...that one only took a trip to three different stores and way too many Euros. We now have our keepsake from our time here!

In spite of the challenges we had, the party was a success! Many of the students prepared a dish from their countries, so it ended up being a giant buffet where you could try a little of everything. It was all very good, and everyone wanted to make sure that I knew what they had made and where they were from. My favorite was this sweet rice from Sri Lanka. It tasted milky and coconut-y and just delicious!

Jay's favorite was a dish from Bhutan. It was good, but ohmygosh! it was like fire in your mouth. Here's a picture of me with the cook (notice I am sweating after my first bite of her dish)...

They also asked me to give a speech. I told them to be careful what they asked for because I was a teacher and could talk for hours on end. After that I was presented with gifts. The first was from Sammy, who is from Saudi Arabia. It is a candle burner/holder.

In true Hilleary-fashion, I dropped it as soon as he finished showing me what it was...thank goodness it's not breakable!

I also recieved a bracelet from Ethiopia.

Another very pleasant evening here in Enschede. We haven't experienced much of true Dutch culture yet, but we have been able to see a little bit of many other parts of the world. And what a treat that has been!

Tot ziens!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In My Country...

Growing up in the United States is one of the biggest blessings I feel I have in my life. We have it sooooo good here. Jay and I were talking last night about how we have it so good that not only do we take it for granted, it's hard for us to imagine anyone else feeling the same way about their own country. I mean, who would want to live anywhere else, right?

One of the unique parts of Jay's program is that ITC is completely an international school. It is a school for surveyors, mappers, photogrammetrists, urban planners and other such jobs that most of us never think about or consider, but that we need for our societies to function. Governments from all over the world send their employees here to acquire the skills needed to return to their countries and further develop infrastructures there.

Needless to say my husband, affectionately known in high school as Mayor Jay, has befriended some of the most amazing people from all corners of the globe....Tanzania, Bhutan, Nigeria, St. Vincent, Oman, China. It has been a pleasure getting to know them and their stories this week. I have met Prince Will from Nigeria, Cornelius from St. Vincent, Kalfon and Ali from Oman, and several others whose names I will not attempt to type because I would slaughter the spellings I'm sure....Each of them is so proud of his or her country. They love to share the customs and traditions of where they live. Many of those stories start with, "In my country..."

Last night we had the privilege of having dinner with the gentlemen from Oman. They quietly asked Jay yesterday if they could have a dinner in my honor. Now, I have to admit I was a little nervous about what might be served at such a dinner. I wasn't sure what the customs would be....I was nervous and even considered eating a little something beforehand in case I couldn't stomach what they cooked for us.

Imagine my delight when we showed up and were treated as if we were royal guests. They prepared a FEAST for us! We had soup, saffron rice, curried chicken stew, a cucumber and tomato salad, Lebanese bread, dates, and Omani coffee. The table was set beautifully with nice plates and glasses (we've been using plastic in Jay's room). They served us first and only filled their own plates after they had heaped ours to overflowing! It was delicious. Every part of it. Of course, Jay and I both did our best to finish, but there was just too much. The conversation was fabulous. It was so interesting to hear about what life is like in Oman. I definitely had some preconceived notions about life in the Middle East, and after dinner I would say my assumptions were both right on and completely off...if that makes any sense.

I left feeling like a whole new world had been opened up to me. I still love my country and am so proud to be an American, but there can be pride without I tell my kids at school ALL the time...just because something is different doesn't necessarily make it any better or worse than what you are used to. And that is what I take from my wonderful dinner last night.

Tot ziens!

The Visit

Obviously several weeks have passed between Jay leaving and now. There are many stories for later posts...too bad I didn't have jet lag sleeplessness to give me the idea for a blog before now! I promise to share later.

For now fast forward to the end of Februrary. I was able to go visit Jay in The Netherlands for a week over my spring break. It has been AMAZING. I had never been overseas before, and it has been everything I heard it would be. From the excruciatingly long flight, to feeling overwhelmed by not knowing the language (luckily most Dutch speak at least some English), to just being in awe of the different sights, sounds, and smells.

Here are a few pictures from my adventure so has been awesome!

The foggy streets of Enschede. I was excited to see sun one day, but I quickly learned that in the winter here, seeing the sun meant colder weather.

It is soooo wet here. Everything is green already (still?). I even saw some flowers starting to poke up out of the soil. This is moss growing in a brick border. Everything has the moss growing on it...buildings, benches, sidewalks, roofs. Everything.

City Center photos

I would tell you how old this church is, but I can't read Dutch! One of my frustrations with myself and goals for summer.

On Tuesdays and Saturdays the City Center becomes a giant market. They have anything and everything you want...from fruits, vegetables, scraves, purses, deoderant, and cooked snacks.

Bicycles are king of the road here. Everyone rides a bike, and Jay has it on his list of things to do before I come back this summer to find us some cheap bikes.

The rest are just a couple photos from the winding streets around the City Center. Doesn't it just look European?