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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spraaken ze Dutch?

That's not even Dutch, guys. I think it's just American for "I'm gonna pretend to speak another non-Spanish language".

According to, well, everyone here so far, I don't even sound American. So I dunno how much longer I can play the American card when I'm lost. I need to practice my Texas accent.

Right! I am now officially in the Netherlands. Got here on 8th April! Y'all, this is a completely new bowl of fish. I'm quite impressed that I found my way to my flat without major problems. I did manage Prague alright, so I guess there was only hope there for me.

Spent the night in Manchester Airport since I had to be there at 5am. Been there, done that, BUT! I discovered the beauty of the prayer room. I did not abuse it. I literally went in and prayed and read the Book of Mormon for like, 5 hours. Read 20 chapters that evening actually. It was so warm and peaceful, I didn't want to leave. I fell asleep between 2 and 3am, though, so I decided that was my cue to take off.

So catch my flight, dead tired, get into Amsterdam and find my way to the trains. I tried reading the boards to figure out which train to catch, and I thought I'd done it successfully, but that wasn't true. Ended up getting help off the information people. As you do! Traveling to a new place (in a new language) is a humbling experience.

The view from my train. Definitely not Wales. How? No hills. Or sheep.


So I get to Eindhoven and meet my landlord for my new place. My house is 10000000000000x better than Bangor's housing and it's cheaper too. One caveat: I live in/next to the red light district of Eindhoven. I think it's pretty funny. I mean, only me, right? One time in high school my tennis coach told me, after going for a forehand and getting the tennis ball stuck in the racket triangle, that my life is like a comic book. I agree with him. Each day only brings stronger testimony to this.
Anyway, check out dis house.

I love my room so much. And that window!




It's small, but it's such a lovely room. There are 5 other housemates, and they are all guys. I love this so much. I prefer living with guys than girls. They're really cool as well. I mean, I'm terrible at being social, but when I am I enjoy it. Haha.

I have to admit, my first few days here I was ridiculously homesick for... Wales... but only because I kept getting so lost. Direction Challenged Chandrie. I picked that name for a reason, y'all. On Tuesday it wasn't so bad because I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was sleep. I only ventured out to find the grocery store, the local c1000. It was so small. Smaller than Morrisons. Smaller than Albertsons. Small, guys. Small. I thought Morrisons was small compared to the grocery stores in Texas, but (from what I've seen anyway) the grocery stores here are even smaller. I wasn't expecting that. However! I've only been in that store and an Albert Heijn somewhere on Hoogstraat. I don't think that's the big one in the city, so I can't exactly judge. Directionally, though, I was at a complete loss. At least in Austin, streets made sense to me. Downtown you had 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Then on campus you had the tower as a reference point. As long as you headed towards the tower, you'd find wherever you're trying to go. I didn't have much of a reference point in here Eindhoven, and I can't even pronounce some of the streets. It's like asldfjs;lkjstraat asldfjsd;lkjflaan. I like the streets named after American people. Like John F. Kennedlylaan and Franklin D Rooseveltlaan. I can pronounce those. I couldn't pronounce Boschdijk until one of the guys in my ward figured out what I was trying to say and corrected me. Haha.
Anyway, last Thursday I went to find my way to High Tech Campus where my internship is so I could have a tour around by my supervisor. I left half an hour early (it was only supposed to take about an hour and ten minutes to walk there) because I knew I'd get lost. I got lost. I found my way though. Here's a picture of the road I was along. Way prettier in person, as it is with the pictures I take.



Today was the first day I didn't get accidentally lost, and I've been here a week. I did get lost on purpose, though. That's one of my favorite things to do. I only like to do that on a bicycle as it doesn't take 5 hours to figure out where I am and where I am going. All last week I was getting lost on my feet... so it adds a long time to the journey. On a bicycle, though, it's no problem. So today I went out for about an hour/hour and a half and just wandered around the city. I love love love the bicycle paths. Last week I was homesick, and wanted to give up so much a few times when I got ridiculously lost. Fortunately, after cycling around today, I have fallen madly in love with this city. I don't like cycling in city center/centrum so much because I prefer rural areas, but along some of the bike paths and around the less urban parts of the city is gorgeous. This city is like a combination of Bangor and Austin, and I love it. My favorite thing about Austin was on the weekends I would just grab my bicycle and go somewhere. I never knew where, I would just explore. In Bangor I don't have a bicycle, and I don't feel confident cycling in the UK. I do believe I've posted about this before. I know, I'm a wimp. Here I can go back to that again. I can reactivate my more adventurous side I guess. I think my favorite thing about Eindhoven/the Netherlands is how bike friendly it is.  In my above picture you see the sidewalk, the bicycle lane (red), and then the car lane. I've only been here a week, but I'm already sad that I'll be leaving it in 6 months. Haha. Anyway, here's a picture of the bicycle I bought yesterday. Super cheap. Simple Dutch bike. It's simple as in the first bicycle you had growing up. No gears, back pedal brake. Once I get paid and can afford it I'm going to buy a better bicycle. I need to buy a replacement for the one my bishop let me borrow as well... it got stolen. I thought it was secure and it was not. Congratulations to me. So buying bishop a new bicycle will happen first. Then I'll sell my current one and buy a better one. Apparently Eindhoven is like Austin in bike thefts as well. Cheers, Eindhoven.

Here is my temporary bicycle!

It's been an interesting week needless to say. I haven't explored too much so far. It's easier with a bicycle, which I got yesterday, and I need to finish my dissertation as well as study for exams in May.

I haven't been able to actually start my internship yet as we're still waiting for my work visa to come through, but it should be in any day now. Tomorrow I'm going to the hospital to observe some tests so once I start I can actually be helpful rather than learning everything.

*Warning, Mormon lingo ahead*

My ward here is absolutely amazing. I've never felt so welcomed to a new place before in my life. The YSA are fantastic, and it's just been a great experience. There are a few English speakers in my ward, but it's pretty much all Dutch, minus the fact that they have an English-speaking Sunday School. I love it, though. I do want to learn Dutch. Most people do speak English as well, but it'd honestly be so much easier to learn Dutch. Plus I'm in the perfect environment for learning a language, total immersion. I've even started attempting to read out of a Dutch Book of Mormon. Check it ouuuut!


I've gotten as far as the first two verses of Chapter 1 of 1 Nephi. I know, I'm a legend. (Sarcasm, guys).

Pfffft... what else? Oh! Tips. Huge tip. Ok, so, when I got here, neither my British nor my American debit card worked in the c1000. I thought, 'My gosh, I'm going to starve.' I even tried online shopping to see if my card would work there, but you have to order a minimum of 100 euros, and I don't need that much or have that much money. So I researched online forums trying to figure out a way to get money. I didn't think an ATM/cash machine would work because my American card never works in ATMs in the UK, and I'm trying not to use my British card at the moment as I need to save that money for my phone bills. (My parents are helping out - eternally grateful for them). In a last, desperate attempt, I went to an ATM and put in my American card... guys. It worked.

HALLELUJAH

I nearly wept with joy. 
Jokes. I don't cry. I punch things.
Kidding guys. I am human. I do shed human tears every now and then.

I didn't cry, but I was so ridiculously grateful. I smiled. Man, I didn't just smile. I was beaming from ear to ear. I wasn't going to starve. I could eat more than peanut butter sandwiches. Although, let's be honest, I could happily live off of peanut butter sandwiches purely by choice.

Lesson? You can withdraw money with your American debit card from ATMs. However! Always inform your bank about any traveling you're going to do before you leave the country. Otherwise your card will be declined and your bank will put a block on it in case it's been stolen. This is important. You do not want to be stuck in a foreign country with no money, stuck on a phone, especially if you're having to pay international charges. 

I dunno if there's really anything else... I guess if you're moving to a house, you might want to check out the neighborhood. You know, so you don't end up in the red light district... but hey, to each his own. I guess if I need money I know what to do at night! 
Kidding guys. I don't want to be a pimp.
Or a prostitute. I really don't want to be a prostitute. 

I think that's all I've got for now. I'm way excited for this summer. 

Right-o. I'll leave it here for now. I'll make sure to take more pictures than I have. This place is too beautiful not to do so. So is Wales, though, and we see how well I've done there... 

Anyway, adios!