All posts by katiejurek

To Amsterdam I go!

I’ve bought my ticket to Amsterdam for December 9th to January 7th. I’m, as you can imagine, exTREMEly excited, though I won’t let time go to waste while waiting for the date to come; there is more Dutch to be learned and games to be programmed! I’ll be flying with KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines, an airline I chose specifically because it was Dutch. I want to immerse myself as fully as possible and it was only a few dollars more expensive, so why not?

If any of you Nederlanders want to go out for a cup of coffee or something during that time, drop me a line and let me know and I’m sure we’ll be able to set something up! =)

My first major language breakthrough

Two nights ago I made a huge breakthrough in Dutch. When someone hears a language that they don’t speak, they’ll often think that the person speaking is doing so too quickly. More often than not, the listener’s ears are simply not attuned to discerning the sounds in that particular language. For me, this is no longer the case with Dutch, as my listening comprehension is catching up to my reading: I can now understand the individual words someone is speaking in Dutch instead of just hearing a jumble of sounds. This is a huge step in the right direction, and it came nearly all at once. I was studying my Lonely Planet Dutch phrasebook outside of my calculus class two days ago and found that, when I had come home and started listening to Dutch music, I could pick out individual words. I may not be able to spell them or even know what they mean, but I can’t complain!

Continue reading My first major language breakthrough

Gaining confidence in life through language

I’ve been learning a lot about my own emotions recently alongside my Dutch studies. I’m starting to put down on job applications and the like that I know enough Dutch to be able to handle merchandise-related issues and general customer service. Of course, this is unlikely to ever be needed, because most Dutch people speak English, especially if they live in the United States!

I like being more empathetic. As I progress in language and speaking to my friends about their problems, I’ve noticed that there’s barely anything I’m afraid of anymore when it comes to job duties. When I got my first job at Honey Baked Ham, I was insecure and unsure of my abilities. Now it seems so silly to me now to have been such a worrywart when all I had to do was ask if I had a question. Often times I did ask, but then would have a mental countdown in my head of how long I had to wait until I allowed myself to ask another. It was really a silly way of doing things, but it was better than never asking anything at all and screwing up people’s orders left and right!

Thus, my language endeavors have taught me confidence, and this confidence of course now extends to many other areas of my life! 🙂

Speaking Japanese with the Japanese

I spent the day at Orlando Science Center with my friend from Ohio (after leaving the house of my other friend where we had a bonfire the night before). Little did I know that, along with getting some fantastic pictures of the animals on the bottom floor of the place (esPECially the bearded dragon and crayfish!), I would also get a chance to practice my Japanese with real Japanese natives.

After spending time in basically every room the museum had to offer, my friend and I happened upon a Japanese family of about 5-6 people messing around with a specific attraction, one where it was emphasized that if you increase an object’s orbit, it’ll slow down considerably. This was done with a large chrome marble that the family was throwing into orbit constantly. They seemed very happy and approachable, and I had already identified their language as Japanese a few minutes prior, so I jumped in to talk to them. I was still a little shy, so I only said a handful of one-word phrases, but the reaction was incredible! As soon as I said 凄い/Sugoi! (“Amazing!”), they all looked up at me. The little boy present even repeated what I said in the more masculine fashion, which sounds more like “suge”. My interaction with them prompted the little girl to hand me the marble with a big smile on her face! I repeated what they did, and since the way I threw the marble made it take longer to fall out of orbit, I whined 速く/Hayaku! (“Hurry up!/Faster!”) Now they knew that me speaking their language was no accident. The oldest lady there turned to me and said “You speak Japanese?” and I said “A little bit,” returning her smile. Boy, there was a lot of smiling going on! 🙂

Continue reading Speaking Japanese with the Japanese

Small, but not insignificant

Today was a good day that reinforced even further my desire to travel. As I was standing on the beach looking out over the Atlantic Ocean from about six stories in the air, I realized just how small human beings are, and yet how incredibly interesting each one of them can be. Here I was with a friend gazing at this vast, blue ocean, so tranquil and serene, and it hit me that humans can make me feel that way, too, just like the calm evening waters of the ocean. I enjoyed this day very much, if for nothing else, than certainly for this realization, among others.