Friday, May 11, 2012

Language Class Update and Q & A

          A part of me doesn't feel like blogging about this but due to receiving several e-mails, I decided to. I get e-mails from a wide variety of people. I hear from those who are also expats living either here or somewhere else in the world. We chat freely about the struggles,the funny things,what we miss, and how happy they were to come across a recipe I have made from scratch that they themselves could make aswell. I get e-mails from people who want to swap goodie boxes with me and how excited they are to experience something to eat from another country that they more than likely will never be able to see in person. I also hear from Dutch people and they want to know certain things and why I don't talk about this or that or show this type of photo or why I haven't visited this place yet. So here is me answering  some of those questions and giving updates on things and hopefully then it will satisfy those who feel like I'm not doing my part.

1. Language Class Update: Oh how I would love to show  you the wonderful books I'm studying from and all the great people I am coming in contact with and how much I'm enjoying the language. If I talked about it like that then I would be lieing to you..and I'm not going to. I also don't feel like I need to constantly talk about the struggles I face because that gets old aswell. I will for sure and do updates as to how I am doing..but this blog was never about me working my way through the Dutch culture. My language class isn't going well right now and I kind of expected that. What I didn't expect was to be the reason an entire class was shut down for the night. I am the type of person who prefers to go through this world as quietly as possible and when I am thrust to the front of it..well it pretty much leaves me in the bathroom with the trots and not being able to eat or sleep. I am facing 3 types of people in my class right now. We will call them Group 1,Group 2 and Group 3.

Group 1 hates me. Group 1 doesn't even want to deal with me. Why? because I am an American. That alone is enough for them to hate me the instant they hear me speak. There is no reasoning with Group 1 because they won't have it and they won't listen to it. I always knew about Group 1 because I deal with them alot..not in person but in passing by. Group 1 gives me dirty looks and addresses me as "The American" and nothing else.

Group 2 can go either way. They stay away from me but are also curious. Group 2 likes getting in my face and having me repeat sentences and refusing to leave until I do it. Group 2 can be helpful but not always in a nice way. Group 2 has a point to make and they will make it..because I'm "The American".

Group 3 is the best of them all. Group 3 is chatty and helpful and more of how I pictured the language class to be. I expected a group of people who come together to learn the language together..without drama. A group of people who were willing to help one another and not carrying one bit about where each one came from. 

Group 1 staged a walk out on wednesday evening due to the special treatment of "The American". It wasn't a quiet walk out either. There was yelling and crying and pointing and holding back and shouting and then the final storm off. I did not receive any special treatment of any kind. Infact if I'm totally honest, Group 1 doesn't even need to be there due to a new law they passed here. I have to be there. I just sat there in stunned silence because it was such a voilent outburst that noone expected. For 15 mins the teacher and other students were shouting at Group 1 and the more shouting occured the more looks I received from them and from the other students. I was given the type of look that let me know that I personally was the reason their perfectly quiet class was thrown into turmoil. We all left in silence and as I drove away with my husband I glanced over to see both Group 1 and 2 still shouting at eachother outside. 

The class situations don't make sense either. They are loud,chaotic and disorganised. The books I'm supposed to get I haven't got and I plan on purchasing them myself because they give us nothing to bring home to work with. They shuffle you in like cattle and put you in places that are more advanced and nothing makes sense. So thats where I'm at with that. I can't wait til next week!

2. Why don't I talk more about my life here? Well not to state the obvious, but this is a cooking blog..not how an American works her way through the Dutch culture. I have zero desire to take this country by the horns and make it my own..Zero.Zilch. Nada. If you want to see expats talk more about their life here,they can be found all over the place. My blog is how I personally make my life work in a foreign country. How I get all 3 meals on the dinner table everday. How I enjoy cooking and baking and sharing the recipes with others so that they can enjoy them aswell. How I learn how to create the foods we loved in a country that doesn't altogether enjoy cooking and baking like the rest of the world does. Now thats not to say that all Dutch people are like that..of course not..but it doesn't take a genius to see that their idea of cooking and baking differs greatly to everyone else. This blog was created because I needed an outlet when dealing with living here. It was my form of therapy and getting back to what I had let go of for awhile..and that was cooking and baking.

 The one thing that alot of us expats hold onto is the food we left behind. We all have memories of the wonderful things we ate,how our moms would make that one special meal every year, the sparkle in our eyes when christmas would come because it ment cookies,cakes,pies,candy and everything else you could think of. Those are the things we don't want to lose..and it's very easy to let that happen when you don't live in your own country anymore. I decided to fight that and to create the meals we all loved so much. I have always said and will continue to say that I may live in a Dutch society, but I keep an American home. It's what works for us. My house is my safe zone. It's where I can kick my shoes off,put my hair up and head into the kitchen and whip up a batch of snickerdoodles or ice cream or bread or whatever it is that I or my family is feeling like at that moment. Will I ever share Dutch recipes? maybe. Once the language starts falling into place more I could see myself purchasing a Dutch cookbook and sharing some of the recipes.

3. Why I have stopped sharing photos. Here's the deal folks. I go through periods where I love taking photos and then I go through periods where I barely pick up my camera. I am not a professional photographer and I've always enjoyed nature and food photos over everyday life photos. This summer there will be alot more photos because then I will have the chance to show photos with a blue sky and sun..not the everyday Dutch grey that never seems to want to leave. The fairytale of living here is long gone. When you visit a country it always seems way better and you could totally see yourself living there. I've had that tons of times..infact up until a few weeks ago I fully expected to be telling you that I was packing up and moving one final time to either the U.K. or New Zealand. However due to economy issues in both countries we made the final choice to stay put. This country on paper totally rocks. I have never said otherwise. We have more security here than we ever did back in the U.S. However I don't love it here and I don't know if I ever will. The Netherlands is a beautiful place filled with wonderful people and cheese and chocolate :) It's no different from anyone else who goes through periods where they love where they live and then wish they could drop kick it and move on.

So that's it. That is my life right now and hoping that I finally answered the questions. I am an American woman. A wife,mother,daughter,best friend and over all best muffin baker ever ( the kids gave me that title). Here I am known as the "American Cupcake Mom" and now "The American". I am not ashamed of who I am and where I come from. I look forward to when someone addresses me as just Sonya with nothing else behind it. No Sonya,The American...just Sonya.