Six weeks and I’m settled in: I’ve slept on a real mattress for about a month. Today, I brought the last of my odds and ends of clothes home from under my desk, brought over from an earlier trip, so my co-workers don’t think I’m homeless. Most of my clothes are in my closet. My shopping list is down to non-essentials like picnic supplies, a third towel for visitors, a broom, and a mirror. I even have a train pass and a bank account with real euros floating around in there. I can’t understand the bank website, so I’m not sure if I’m moving hundreds of euros to savings or to some guy in Malaysia. I still don’t have a real mobile phone. Life’s hard when you’re stuck playing 3D snake on an old Nokia.
I’ve started to crave Dutch food – instant asparagus soup, fried sausages, frites, drinkable yogurt, and generic tasting Douwe Egberts coffee. I could consume a gallon of that asparagus soup in one sitting. I know the limited hours (including when it’s packed full) and my way around the local Albert Heijn grocery store. I keep the fridge stocked with glass bottles of the weekly beer special that comes in a returnable plastic crate (last week was Heineken 24/€9). I finally found hot sauce – several kinds. I even have a jar of peanut butter. Ms. Child would be proud of this pieced together pantry.
I take the train almost everyday and spend so much money on public transit that I might get a train station named after me. You can usually find me on track 14 getting on the 7:38 train or watching me miss it. No big deal – I’ll have time for a coffee and taking a stroll until the next train comes. I now have two bikes – one in the city where I work and one where I live.
I had my first work visit to a hospital. We were interviewing departments to find out how they operated and analyze how they would work electronically. The meetings were all in Dutch, except for one. I was confused, cold, and scared all day. If it wasn’t for my American colleague I was shadowing and the reliable courtesy of warm coffee religiously passed out at the commencement of every meeting, I could have disguised myself as a psych patient to sneak out. It was an extremely tough but very valuable experience.
…so maybe, just maybe… you can start calling me een beetje Nederlands (a little bit Dutch).
The weather has been the best 10 day streak I can remember in ages. It’s been sunny everyday, about 75 to 80 degrees and daylight until10:30pm. No one can stay away from going outside. I was invited to my first hausfeest on Friday. I spent Sunday at a beach (nice enough pond) in Den Bosch, followed by a BBQ at a colleague’s house, then we saw some saxophone at the Jazz in Duke Town festival. Much tamer than a show the night before, where one of the performers kicked a fan in the face and got arrested.
On Monday, we had a holiday on the same day as Memorial day, Witte Mandag. Three of us biked from Rotterdam to the Hook of Holland on the sea, about 20 miles mostly over land that was technically under sea level. We passed by a river that was above-ground; from a distance it looked like sail boats were floating above cattle. The weather continued to be gorgeous until about 2 miles from the sea, where turned dark like we walked into a closet. We still went to the beach, played frisbee, and yes, went swimming in the 45 degree North Sea. Feeling refreshed, we got some fried mussels and cod for a snack and headed home leaving a salty trail from our wet shorts on the train..