Learning Dutch Volume II

>> Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A: I'm never going to speak Dutch...

V: Oh, don't worry, you'll get it sooner or later!

A: No, I mean, I'm never going to speak Dutch. Even if I learn it there is just no opportunity to use it. TV is in English, Radio is in English, everyone speaks English, work will most likely be in English... I'll never get to speak it!!!

V: People will speak Dutch to you.

A: No they won't... (pouty face) You have to have patience of a teacher... and I don't have enough money to pay everyone...

V: I'll speak Dutch to you!

A: Ok! Ready... go! Start now!

V: (YAWN)...Ok, I'll start tomorrow

Ok FINE, here is what really happened:

A: boohoo- I'll never speak Dutch! Because there is no need for it.... waaaahhhhwahh

V: I'll speak Dutch to you!! Katalakakaktkktka blaalalalbbkeee thhekekekhtkehketrjkejr wrooom wroom kiiikaakakekekek!?!???

A: heh??

V: Ok, we start tomorrow...


Herb Garden Revelries

>> Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I know I know again with the food... but not really. You see all the fresh greens on top of that pasta came from the terrace herb garden. I want! I want basil, dill, thyme, and mint. This could be a nice little project to do, no? Is it harder then it seems? I don't want to touch any dirt or anything... (my nails are so gorgeous right now).


Sunny in Brussels

>> Monday, June 25, 2007

Another fabulous weekend clocked! Hmm... this is becoming a pattern... YES! Ok, so since sightseeing was gotten out of the way this past winter when I was in Belgium for the very first time, this weekend was about quality time and relaxation (right, because I'm oh so very stressed...hahah).
, so I arrived Friday morning. There was a bit of an adventure when for the very first time (in history probably) the Dutch train system hiccuped and delayed me! It threw me back an hour. I'm convinced it happened because when Aurelia suggested I should leave an hour earlier just in case the train is late, I laughed in her face (well, via the phone). Ugggh.. But it was ok. The regular train has a special weekend price of, R U READY? GRAND TOTAL of €40 for a return trip! How cool is that!? For trips during Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Love it.
I arrived a bit hungry. (STARVING) Not that I couldn't buy anything on the train because a nice but slightly unamused young men kept making rounds every half hour with a little cart selling all kinds of goodies. I however decided to be on a "health conscious kick" and felt guilty purchasing pre-made sandwiches that of course contained mayo and were not made with whole wheat bread...

I was rewarded however by Aurelia who immediately proceeded to stuff my face with SUPER healthy whole wheat sandwich with hummus and fresh cucumbers! AND she made me a wonderful juice cocktail with carrot and tomato juice not forgetting to add some pepper and Tabasco!!! (Oh and a sprig of greens) YUMMMMMMY!!!!!!!!
She then jetted off to work and I was left to my own devise with a hand drawn map of the fastest way to the shops. Hehe. I didn't have to use it because I decided to choke the pillow for a bit in preparation for a late night that would surely ensue for her birthday.
Plus Aurelia's place is just SO so sweet and peaceful that it is very conducive to lazying around. (Though I'm pretty talented in that area and can accommodate myself to that activity in a variety of environments.)

Ok, my view from the bed as I took a nap (before I closed my eyes of course).
And good thing I did because the birthday celebrations that evening lasted very well into the morning hours. I really do not remember the last time I came back with morning light.
Saturday was spent leisurely checking out the shops and boutiques. I'd like to report that shoes are more to my liking in Belgium, and I figured out why. Belgium seems to import a lot more Italian shoes and you can find more variety in styles. (Not to mention variety in prices rather then just SUPER HIGH as it is in Holland.)
Speaking of Italian stuff, we had the absolute greatest ice cream at this little corner shop.... that's all I have to say, I think you can all come up on your own with praise words for a blissful ice cream experience.
For dinner on Saturday we went to this little but super cute Thai place where the owner herself (Sally) was making rounds in the room. The food was delicious, the presentation was authentic and came in beautiful green jade plates with elephant families walking across their borders. Our curries came in matching sets of heated pots! How fun! Anyway the dinner for two came out to €33 WOW. (I guess that's how it is when you don't order bottles of wine ;) And we had a starter too of cellophane noddles with giant pawns. After dinner we were supposed to go to a free outdoor concert but we are too above going to crowded public activities and decided to go snooping around the richest neighborhood in Brussels.

This is simply us driving by and ogling at the HUGE mansions sometimes offering useful advice in the area of cosmetic home improvements... The richy-rich neighborhood is up on a hill surrounded by green lushness (of course) and the houses are huge. Just like in the old fashioned movies like Pride and Prejudice and such. Some looked like real castles, some like chateaus with gates and all the works. There were also mixed in a bunch of super lux condo complexes that were also gated and you can just imagine they put California's Melrose Place like places to shame with the drama and intrigue... We also came across some smaller houses in the area at the sight of which we both took out our cellphones to call our real estate brokers to order them to place a bid... then we woke up. Ahhhh... but girls can dream can't they!? It's very good for the skin I hear... ;)

Anyway, I personally believe that it's not about how BIG your house is, but how well you capture the ESSENSE of living comfortably and enjoyably.... again going back to Aurelia's place, I say her one bedroom apartment channels the best and biggest mansion in St. Tropes...! Oh, you are not convinced.. Look at this picture and tell me what it makes you feel!

Anyway they did a study on home space usage and concluded that no matter how big your home is, most people use only one or two rooms to the max.

Oh this is getting really loooooong! So I will summarize. Sunday we had a gorgeous breakfast at the neighborhood patisserie...

And then stopped by her mom's house to pick up Vodka (the dog) and take her for a walk in the park...


Then I got on a train, came home to Holland (I like the sound of that) where Vito dear was definitely a sight for sore eyes... and then we watched Bourne Supremacy during which I did not shut up even for a second... PERFECT WEEKEND!


Last weekend's pictorial

>> Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wow, it's already THURSDAY and I haven't even talked about last weekend yet. I'm so behind, so here is a little pictorial run through. Top- my starter at a place we went out to for Vito's b-day on Friday...

This is taken from the balcony area of the cricket club. (Saturday)

Sunday we had a massive barbecue at Vito's parents'. It was super lovely with all kinds of stuff to grill. Even jumbo shrimps.

Oh and here is Vito looking smug in front of the place we went to on Friday. I just love that picture.

This weekend, well tomorrow, I'm heading out to Belgium! It's Aurelia's B-day and we're gonna party like it's her birffffday!! (Cus'it is... duh!)


Eat me!!

>> Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Last week when I was booking through double shifts of interviews my darling left me a little surprise in the refrigerator. It all started with a mystical text message... (It was mystical because it was in Dutch!) Thank goodness the very first thing I learned were all the words related to food. Yes that was hard when you're on a ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island after a day at work, already hungry and you still have two more hours of commute time... But anyway, here is the first taste (view for you) of the "New" Herring of the season!

"New" herring is simply first catch of the season, something about it being not fat enough yet (only 16% body fat) I guess herrings in general are fatties... Anyway, the very FIRST barrel of herring gets auctioned off for crazy amounts of Euros, this year I believe it was 70,000€! Hmm.. that makes me wonder, how do they know it's really THE first!?? Maybe MY herring was really THE first!???? So yeah, the herring is eaten raw with a healthy coating of onions YUMMY! I say if you like sushi you will like raw herring too! And same goes in reverse! So Forgetful, this means you, since you like herring, you will probably like sushi too.

And just for fun. The REAL Dutch way to eat herring is of course with your head back holding the fish by the tail. Do close your eyes because the onions that are stuck to the fish will surely be falling off and hitting you in the face so you definitely want your eyes closed when that happens. Now the cute Dutch girls will demonstrate:

Oh! I have a special treat for you... No not food.. but I have snapped a picture of the Corporate Holland... You know Corporate America? Well... this is Corporate Holland... are you ready??? Here it is...

Hmmm.... looks like it could be central New Jersey! Where are the gargoyles perched on the castle walls!??? Nah, same square buildings, a bit of flowers and fake pools to relieve work related stress, same stuff as in the USA. I just thought of something! EVEN in NYC where there isn't enough room there are plenty of fake pools especially in front of financial buildings... I guess there is really calming power in water.
Wow... too much deep discussion, must go away and twist blond hair for a bit...
Tomorrow! We will delve into the fascinating world of Amsterdam's subcultures. India is first on the list, inspired of course by a visit to a very coll country club in the Amsterdam "forest" to see a friendly game of cricket!!! For a spoiler go to Alexis's site, I'll bring pictures manana.


Interview blunders 101

>> Friday, June 15, 2007

the interviewer: So, tell us a little more about your personality

me: Well, I'm always super happy and perky so sometimes my co-workers want to strangle me

the interviewer: I assume you already know a bit about our company right?

me: Oh absolutely! Not only did I read everything on your website, I even googled much of the terminology because I had NO CLUE what the heck it was talking about

the interviewer: our site has an English version

me: right, that's the one I was reading...

me: um... I saw toothpaste in the restroom... is this going to be like NYC?? Do the employees pull all nighters here too!?!?? Cus' I ain't down wid dat!

the interviewer: we like to hire internationals

me: oh yeah, why's that?

the interviewer: well, to be honest dutch people are kinda lazy

me: oh really!??? so do you have many internationals working here now?

the interviewer: well just a few, most are dutch

me: I'll fit right in!!!

me: I just L.O.V.E your modern style orange chairs!!!!

the interviewer: thanks, they are nice aren't they...

me: TOTALLY, oh cool... you can spin all the way around! wo-o-w!

Well believe it or not, I have gotten invitations for second round of interviews with all the companies! I'm so pumped!

You know why else I'm pumped!? It's BIG Vito's B-day today!!! Since the party already took place, today's evening activities are being kept under strict hush-hush, VIP style ... I can just say that we are going to an undisclosed location... for an undisclosed dinner :)


I'm so scary!! RaaAAARRrrr!

>> Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hmmm... just because poppies are pretty and they grow all around town.
Also because I have to run out of the house in a few minutes for a day full of various business oriented activities.
And I don't even mind because it's not very sunny today... shhhhh
Oh... women don't really wear high heels here, so when I show up for interviews with my super high BCBGs I think I straight up SCARE people. It's ok, I think a bit of fear is good!
Ok, so gotta run scare a few people... ;)


Party central

>> Sunday, June 10, 2007

The entire day last Friday it was incredibly muggy and humid-hot. Very similar to NYC actually. The whole day it felt like it was about to pour and only by around 7.30pm the entire sky let loose. What a show! Lightning coming from different direction, pouring rain surges, clouds of varying greyness... it was wild. And yes the first thunder storm, so I guess summer is here.

In about an hour it started to quiet down and the guests started to slowly trickle in most wearing their rain suits for biking.

It was a super cozy party with the boys drinking the Heinekens and the girls the sangria. I actually really wanted to feed people but the little salads and turkish breads did not get too much attention. Well it was an after dinner party, and as Vito predicted people were not hungry. See this is another cultural difference, Dutch only eat when they're hungry... who ever heard of that!?!?? In my culture, we eat whenever we SEE food.
As for the presents! Vito LOOooOVvEs smoothies so he got a fabulous blender. (With super duper turbo powers! Try saying that fast a few times) and a basket full of all kinds of fabulousness to make smoothies with, exotic fruit mixes, banana liquor and other yumminess. His friends are so sweet, I got a present also to congratulate me on my official Dutch status!! :) A Dutch food cook book which is both in English AND in Dutch so I can practice the language while cooking, very practical. Vito however is convinced that the present is really for him, so I can cook him Dutch food. Whatever, what's wrong with MEXICAN fajitas!??? ;)

Anyway, so this whole weekend we were indulging in the wondrous blender. Saturday morning we made sweet and creamy ICED coffee. The blender literally pulverized ice cubes like nothing! Then on Sunday a super smoothie with strawberries, banana and a dollop of peanut butter. (Just like at the Equinox gym in good ol' NYC.)

Partying continued on Saturday night as well. Alexis had a nice get together at her place (really nice loft with a balcony in the residential area of Amsterdam). There was a nice mix of internationals. I got numbers! Don't worry, I only got this girls e-mail because her company is hiring. Vito had his own party to go to, some kind of testosterone fest where guys got together to throw sharp objects (darts) and drink stuff. See, men are not difficult, they're happy just having something to throw and something to drink. :)

Just to let you know, Sunday was no parties, just a nice long bike ride through some of the neighbouring farms. Behind the big castle there are fields and really pretty farms where you can ride around for a good hour without really seeing any signs of a majior town. Made me kinda want to live on a farm... and have horses that would chew grass in front of the windows all day! And pigs that poo... wait, what? No... no pigs that poo, though horses poo too and a lot... hmm... maybe a farm with lots of servants and stable boys and other staff... Yes! That deffinitely sounds like a better plan!



>> Friday, June 8, 2007

There are gonna be a few Dutchies stopping by tonight... you know real casual, laid back little get together... just a few of Vito's closest buds coming by with some birthday wishes...

You think that's enough...? If so, YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND!!! Here are a few more...

American college frat boys need to go back to SCHOOL compaired to the Dutchies...


Hmm... another interesting difference between working in NYC and working in Holland.

....Here when people are sick they stay HOME!

I found that out when the company called to reschedule because my interviewer was sick. Silly me, I thought they were calling to tell me I'd have to wear a protective mask not to catch the germs, but he actually opted to stay HOME and reschedule. Seriously, life is so luxurious here. I mean in NYC you just soak a cloth in some alcohol and cover your mouth out of courtesy for your coworkers. But you don't stay HOME!

Another tidbit. At my current job I was unanimously elected by all in the office to attend a business schmoozing session solely based on the way our company t-shirt would sit on my big... on me.

I'm so proud of my big... of me.

And now just some random pictures because I know my mom and dad are super bored with this post :)))))

Here is my lovely and talented private Dutch teacher.

We went on a learning "Field day" trip to Haarlem to visit very important cultural sites such as: (Insert names of Dutch clothing, shoe shops).

Later in the day she furthered my knowledge of Dutch culture by sitting in the main square for drinks. As we sat and sipped our iced coffees I learned to say in Dutch:

1. What is this girl THINKING wearing THAT in combination with THAT!!?!!

2. No you can't sit with us! How old are you? Don't you have homework or something?

3. Excuse me sirs, can you please stop yelling, you're sitting next to each other.


>> Thursday, June 7, 2007

Very very nice headhunter girl: Waaaw! You speak Italian really well! Like a real Italian! And you even use your hands... like me!!!!

Me (thinking): I'm using my hands to help you understand what I'm saying, since I'm speaking gibberish-italian...!

Well, to be perfectly honest, I do speak Italian pretty well but it's been quite some time since I had regular practice so of course it's much harder to pick right up and start yacking. In fact, few days ago I spoke to my German friend who lives in Italy and she used at least five different insults to underline the sorry state of my Italian... of course I retaliated with double the amount of insults and was pleased to know that at least remembering them didn't take long!

Yes, so this morning I went to my very first interview with a headhunter, it on one of the top floors of a high-rise. Yes! an actual high rise building! (It was outside of Amsterdam city center.) I still can't believe that here I am... and looking for an actual job... INTERVIEWING!

Anyway, lets get back to the important things.

Yesterday as I had 2 hours to kill after my volunteering and start of class, I stopped by Zara to look for a professional black skirt (to wear to today's interview). I got the skirt, then I saw some sweaters... light ones that you can wear even in the summer! I tried on the sweater and it looked FAB so of course I marched back and grabbed one in every color! (WHAT!? you never do that!? Plus I live in NORTHERN Europe now... North=Cold, need sweaters to stay warm!!) Anyway, after that, I was completely satisfied with my finds, buuuuut... I decided to do a quick little run through the second floor... you know, sort of like a champion's lap since I already found great things and didn't need anything else.

Then I saw them! Actually THEY saw me! I could CLEARLY hear them calling my name! Laugh if you want, but they not only knew my first name, they knew my LAST NAME too!!!! Yep, they came home with me.

Oh by the way, check out the fun pillow cases I picked up at the market when Aurelia was here... They have little mirrors in them!

You know how some people have a rule to drink (alcoholic beverages) only when they are happy? Well my rule is to SHOP only when I'm happy. Well I gotta say... according to my shopping pattern I'm deliriously happy... in fact, if I CHART my shopping progress, I think I'm getting happier and happier by the day! Boy... "being happy" is costing me lots of money! ;)


i'm an American Burger!??

>> Tuesday, June 5, 2007

You know it's ok to use some friendly humour about someones culture. But it has to be done very carefully...

I don't know about you, but I don't appreciate being called an American BURGER! Especially not on an OFFICIAL document!!!

This morning we picked up at the city office my shiny laminated residence card (THE card). Anyway, under where it said that Vito will have to pay any and all monetary damages I may do to the country, next to ''nationality" it said: Amerikaans Burger

I'm not a Burger! And if I must be a burger, I wouldn't just be ANY burger, I'd be a Mega Buffalo burger charred with sharp white cheddar!

Just cus "allegedly" the Brittish eat fish and chips, should we call them fish'nchipers!?

Should we call Panamanians BANANA heads?

The Chinese - rice cakes??

The French - cheese balls?

Are all the Japanese Fishy?

Should we call all Mexican ladies Margarita? And all Mexican guys Taco??

Ok, I gotta stop... I'm getting carried away...!!!!

So check this out, next weekend I'm going to a wedding of my Italian friends, Mr. Pizzarello and Miss. Capuccini...

Waaahahaha... OK, I'm stopping...

ps: picture above is of mine and Vito's very own fishn'chips evening! There is a very nice little fish shop right downstairs. A really sweet chatty lady works there. One time I was getting some herrings and she was just talking away to me, after I told her that I'm not really understanding cus I don't speak Dutch, she continued talking to me but added big hand jestures. I think she was telling me about someone in the hospital... or was it about a dancing baby elephant...? One of the two for sure though.

Burger out-


Dad knows best...

>> Monday, June 4, 2007

It's sunny and beautiful today... blablaaaaaaaaa

I'm going for a run to the castle... blaaaaaAAAAAAA

About a week or so ago I was talking to my dad, and he confessed that he thinks my blog is BORING!!!!!! WHAAAA!!???? I said, don't you like the positive outlook and all the good stuff that's going on? So to elaborate he said something along the lines: "Well, your blog is just TOO sugary sweet, it makes me want to puke"

Yah THANKS dad!!

I've been thinking and thinking about how to address the issue but here I am on a Monday morning (afternoon) after yet another fun weekend... and I just don't know how to write about it while showing some kind of "journey and growth" or whatever other requisite for a fun read ... My dad said that all good books have an element of surprise in them that makes the readers interested to read on.

Come on, I'm looking for a job... in a new country! Isn't it enough of a suspense???

Apparently not for him, he is bored! :)

Anyway, I've just don't know how to word stuff in a way that it'll make it suspenseful... I'm gonna go for a run now and think of something...

(since Tomaso hasn't posted the pictures yet from yesterday's party at the beach)

You SEE! Boring boring boring! yet ANOTHER fun beach party... boooooo

Maybe you guys have some ideas how to write so this blog is more- fun and full of suspense!?


Friday laughs!

>> Friday, June 1, 2007

I'm overly enjoying reading the various job advertisements. The american HR would have a FIELD DAY with certain statements.

For example:

salary- determined by age and experience

Yes people they mean YOUR age. In america it's called AGE discrimination. I'll reword it for them: salary - comprehensive benefits package and growth potential

qualities- pleasant appearance due to high client contact

In america this translates into a sexual harassment suit.
Correct wording: qualities - confident and aggressive

Some of these are just incorrect wording as translated into english...

This is my ABSOLUTE favorite:

requirements- involvement with international colleagues

Hahaha!!! I'm REALLY good at that!!!! You see Mr/Ms Employer, I got involved with my international colleague at my old job and that's why I'm now in Holland...!!!! Though, I'm not sure if I can promise such high level of involvement with any subsequent international colleagues. Correct wording: requirements- International teamwork

Even at American and Canadian companies the HR staff is usually Dutch since they have to interface with all kinds of local authorities so the miss wording can found on ads from any company.

If I ever get any interviews... I hope I carry them out correctly. In America you're taught not to leave the room until you have either a second interview set up or a start date. Maybe here that is considered rude and pushy? My last job in NY was for a european company and the interviewing manager's jaw dropped when I suggested that he calls the CEO on his cellphone to finalize the decision to hire me. After he got over the shock, he hired me without calling the CEO.

We'll see, if all else fails I got the "confident and aggressive" to fall back on... ;)

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