My tipping point?

by racmccaf on 7 August 2010

I think I hit it. I would hope it I hit it, it is almost my fourth week here… There was a point, sitting in French 103 during winter quarter of freshman year at UW, while Jillian was expressively chattering in French that a lightbulb literally could have illuminated above my head. I was understanding spoken French at a new level. This moment wasn’t the tipping point in my French-comprehension, that specific moment had gone unnoticed, but it was when I realized what had happened. I had a similar epiphany yesterday when I was buying groceries at Albert Heijn. I was calmly collecting my items as my cashier flung them chaotically down the row to be bagged. In the midst of this oddly manic yet organized scanning operation, she looks to me and says something along the lines of “kljdlf jakljdf ?” to which, somehow, without missing a beat, I react by whipping out the Albert Heijn Bonus card attached to my keys for her to scan. I have gotten to the point where, I can somehow make sense of occasional gibberish Dutch as it is pertinent to my daily activities, I can stumble off my bike but not fall down, I can hear a street name and, without too much stress, know the general area of the city, I can know to wait a couple seconds after I turn on the cold water in my apartment so as not to scour my hand with the brief rush of boiling water, and I can expertly open a bag of pretzels and snack while I bike down Valkenburgerstraat returning from Albert Heijn.

Two cappuccinos in, Plancius has become my Crema and Vero of Amsterdam. It was a great recommendation by Clifford of a relaxed cafe with wireless. Jenny and I have spent a couple work sessions here, not overstaying our welcome only due to the fact that we could not find outlets to plug in our computers, thus only lasting as long as their batteries. But alas, I have found one this morning. So with plug adaptor, power cord, and computer at the ready, I am camped out. All that is missing is The New York Times.

Last week was heavily project-oriented, beginning with status presentations on Monday and three full days devoted to field work. Jenny and I spent the greater part of Tuesday conducting video interviews. At the end of the day we could say it was a productive one, after getting our hands on about 15 successful interviews. The process proved to be a character building experience, as the rejection at times cut deeply. Now our work has turned to our wiki page and to constructing coherent videos from the interviews and observational ‘B-footage’ we have collected.

Wednesday was a day trip to Rotterdam where we visited the Kunsthal (?) Museum, took a three hour bike tour (luckily not rained on), and ate an enormous faux-free (minus the beers) Chinese food dinner.Highlights included the interactive Tour de France exhibit upstairs, really delicious tomato soup

at the museum cafe, Ivan, the indie boxer-clad ByCycle tour guide, and the train ride back when I was thankful for my 5’3″ stature and ability to curl up and actually sleep on my back across two train seats. It was a long day from which I returned and promptly laid down on my bed fully clothed and fell asleep for half an hour before performing the standard getting-ready-for-bed ritual. It was an interesting city to visit but I did not find it nearly as inviting or pleasing as Amsterdam. At the risk of boiling some people’s blood, I drew the following analogy: Rotterdam is to Amsterdam as Seattle is to Portland. Translation: great city, worldly,impressive, architecturally astounding, yet somehow…just not quite the same. I do love Seattle, I promise, but in a group of 12 native-Washingtoninans ( and all mostly from the Seattle area) where I am one of two nonnatives, I can’t help but rebuff just a little. The group got together for a potluck BBQ on Thursday evening, Bananagrams was played, cosmos were drunk, interesting post-meal conversation ensued, and certain after-dinner-games were played in the company of a professor.

Today is Saturday. Today it rains. Today is gay pride. Despite the drizzle, I am cutoff-jean-short-shorts-ready.

Bedankt voor het lezen!


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