Thursday, October 25, 2012

What's Different & Funnies (Cont'd)

What’s Different (Continued)…


My diet has not changed much. I am still cooking all my typical college meals with a few additional tweet-able works of art on the side. So far my most cooked meals have been:
  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs with peppers, ham, cheese (sometimes in Benson breakfast burrito format), toast with Nutella & peanut butter and Vruchtenhagel (Dutch sprinkles), and some yogurt or fruit. The Dutch don’t do breakfast as big as us Americans do!
  • LunchMostly sandwiches with some of my new favorite drink…SISI (better than Fanta in my opinion!)

  • Dinnerusually some chicken or beef with rice or pasta with a side salad or other vegetables. This seemingly bland combination of food is made much better with my #1 favorite sauce or topping: Sweet Chili Sauce!! Awwww yea!! (Pauly D Voice)

What is very cool about the Dutch and many other Western European countries is the fact that nearly everyone knows more than their native language and English. I will admit that it is difficult to learn a language in any environment when you are not forced to speak it each and every day and when you don’t grow up with it. However, in Holland, everyone speaks English very well even from a young age which I find impressive and equally annoying as I am not forced to practice my Dutch! Don’t worry mom, I’m still trying…

An example of this multi-lingual culture is exemplified by our coach Jean-Marc Jaumin who is from Belgium and he speaks…wait for it…wait for it...5 languages fluently: English, French, Dutch, Flemish, and Serbian. It is funny to see this as in the U.S. many of us have 2 or 3 languages on our resume but can really only speak and can carry on a conversation in one…English. I can attest that while my Dutch and French comprehension on paper or in a classroom style environment is still resume adequate material, I can’t say that I can consistently carry on a conversation like my teammates or coach can in their arsenal of languages. Of course part of the reason why my coach and teammates speak so many languages is due to the fact that their job has taken them to different countries for years at a time. Max (my teammate and housemate) spent 3 years playing basketball in Spain when he was younger and picked up Spanish very easily. In addition many of the European languages transcend boarders for a variety of reasons.

One of the reasons for this is due to the nature of the EU and its immigration laws established under the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 which so happens to be one of Holland's oldest cities and the place I was baptized. Specifically, these immigration laws enable anyone that holds citizenship in one of the 27 member countries to live, travel, and work in any EU country of their choosing. Despite this treaty, it is still somewhat difficult to attain citizenship in many of the EU countries as each country has varying nationality laws. For example, I am a Dutch/U.S. dual citizen because my dad is American and my mom is Dutch. However, I was born in Saint Germain, France (basically Paris) and was not able to attain French citizenship using common methods because French nationality law requires you (like most industrialized countries except the U.S.) to have either a parent of French nationality, or attain citizenship through naturalization aka be 18 or older and have been living in France long enough to know that the phrase “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” is not a 5 star pick-up line! Although I’m sure the legendary Barney Stinson might have 2 words in mind in response to that last sentence...

In the end, it has been fun to see and hear a lot of languages over the last few months and hopefully I can get my Dutch speaking prowess to my mom’s level!

[A.D.D. SIDE NOTE: The comparison I often contemplate regarding the EU and its’ languages and cultures is imagining if each state or region in the U.S. spoke a different language! The interesting thing is if you throw away the Louisiana Purchase and a few other historic moments, you might have had a more proportional “America” existing today consisting of English, French, and Spanish speaking populations.]

Dutch Culture: Friendliness

In the 2 months I have been here in Den Helder, I have run several examples of what a nice and friendly community it is. I am sure that this is a combination of the city’s size and also the Dutch culture in general, but I continue to run into examples of both teammates and people who are willing to help you out. For example, on several of the bus rides, a number of my teammates Jasper, Quincy and Jeroen (a few I've seen) are always willing to share food they brought with them or let me use their phone to Skype home after a win. This is cool to see as this friendly, “thinking about others” attitude goes a long way, especially in a team environment and is one that I am trying to emulate more and more each day! Another example is that upon walking into a room or by someone, they give you a friendly smile or a "HOYYY!" (casual hello in Dutch) and ask you how you are doing and mean it!

Funnies: Trips to Amsterdam

Trip #1

A couple weeks ago, a few of us went into Amsterdam one night for Mark Hill’s 25th birthday. We got into Amsterdam around midnight which is about right on time by Amsterdam standards. The only problem we ran into was parking which was non-existent. After 15-20 minutes of touring Amsterdam, driving up and over the canals, we finally found what looked like a feasible parking spot. The only problem was that we either needed to bend our car like an accordion or we needed to make room. So whad we do? Seeing that the car in front had a little bit of room, we picked up the car’s booty and made room for our car! After a nice parallel park job we were on our way to the nearest club!

Storm & I.
Most comfortable chairs I've ever sat in!

Me, Max, Mark, Storm, and 1/2 Stefan!
Trip #2

On our last day-off, a few of us: Max, Quincy, Storm, Mark and I headed into Amsterdam for the day. We took the tram into the city as parking during the week and during the day can eat your wallet alive. Upon arriving, we started to meander our way through the downtown shopping area. I managed to improve my Euro-appeal quite a bit with a jacket and pair of skinny jeans! We then went to Dam Square where they had a carnival set up like in the end of the Greece movie which was fun!

Euro clothes fit me better!
Soon after we made a visit to see the ladies of the Red-Light district; *Prostitutes: I will reserve my judgment on this part of Dutch culture to history… Anyway, 20 minutes and €50 later…I’m kidding, I’m kidding! A few minutes later we were on the set of the new movie Dutch Street Hooligans...

Ajax sent Man City packing with a 3-1 victory in the Champions League group of death; only a few more games left! All in all a fun day and will definitely have more good stories from A'Dam! Thanks for reading!

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