Category Archives: Netherlands

Asian adventures

Whew. The past year has been a whirlwind of travel craziness, even moreso if you stretch it a bit further and count summer 2014. I’ve headed from the US to Norway, to England, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and back to Norway before flying back to the US, whereupon I took a detour to Puerto Rico over the winter, returned to Miami for spring break, and went to New York for the first time. Then, after moving three times since returning from Europe to the US and finishing my Bachelor’s in Computer Science in spring 2015 – along with meeting a whole lot of fun and interesting new people along the way – I sold or gave away most of my possessions, said “Bye” to the country I’ve lived in for ~22 years, and purchased a one-way ticket to Norway, but not before popping over to Colombia to see South America at least once before leaving the western hemisphere.

After spending only a week in Norway, I hopped over to the Netherlands where I had an absolute blast with old and new friends for about a month before going for my first time to Belgium. From Belgium, I bought a ticket to South Korea and commenced my teaching job here, learning a lot of Korean and about the country’s culture from one of its very own, small cities.

And now, in approximately one-and-a-half months, I’ll be on the move again. Where to this time? Well, first I will go around Korea to the places I haven’t seen yet but want to before I leave, such as Jeju Island, Daejeon, more of Seoul, the Demilitarized Zone (between North and South Korea), Gangwon province, Daegu, and more of Busan. After that, I will close out my apartment here in Gochang, say “See ya later!” to the friends I’ve made here, and head to…

Japan!

And I can say I’m quite excited! The destination is not so much of a surprise if you’re somewhat familiar with Asia’s geography, but it will be the first time I’ve set foot in a place where so much of the media I’ve watched and played over the years originates from, and I have to say I’m pretty happy. Both to see Japan, and to leave Korea as Korea has been kind of a drag. More on that in another article, but to sum it up, the job and benefits are great, but the country, people, and largely the food do not suit me. But I’m satisfied: I’ve met plenty of great people here and learned a lot about myself. I’m just happy to be getting to the relative beauty and politeness of Japan, and see some friends that I’ve had there for awhile.

The rest of my plans thus far are pretty tentative, but the current plan goes somewhat like this: I’ll spend three or so months in Japan, going to at least Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo (if not more), then head to Taiwan, Hong Kong, maybe Vietnam (if I bother to get a visa for it, which is a somewhat annoying requirement), maybe Laos or Cambodia, but then definitely Thailand and down to Singapore.

After that, the current plan is to head back to the place where I’ve decided I want to get a residence permit and branch off from there in the future. I’ll espouse more on which country that is in another article! For now, I wonder: can you guess?

Stereotypes of countries around the world

Keep in mind these are tidbits and/or very generalizing and playful stereotypes I’ve come up with by going to these countries and meeting people from them.

Americans:
– Blunt as a knife.
– Describe distances in driving time.
– Describe time in numbers (5:50 is most times “five fifty”, not “ten to six” or “five after quarter to six”).
– Devout (comparatively to other [especially European] countries).
– Friendly.
– Loud.
– Main exports are obesity and friendliness.
– Mediocre drivers due to medium-priced driver’s tests and licenses.
– Notable music genres include rock and jazz.
– Out of shape.
– Patriotic.
– Slogan: Add sugar to everything!
– Tip most everyone.
– Use big adjectives generously (“Wow!” “That’s great!” “That sounds awesome!”).
– Use the imperial measuring system, often leading to confusion with the metric system.

The British:
– Clever.
– Crazy about gardens, just like the Dutch.
– Cynical.
– Pessimistic.
– Sarcastic.
– Sardonic.
– Tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

Continue reading Stereotypes of countries around the world

My 2012 in pictures

2012 was simultaneously long and short, but either way, it was a very, very eventful year for me:

The Netherlands Part I

A windmill in Leiden, the Netherlands

I started the year off still in Dutchville on my December 10th – January 7th trip to the Netherlands. This was the first time I had ever left my own country at all, much less gone to Europe. I watched bikes regularly come within centimeters of cars, witnessed just how liberal Amsterdam is, and participated in and saw the aftermath of New Year’s fireworks as well as an awesome example of the extreme efficiency of public transportation. I ate a ton of new food and had the best, barely-modified meat I’d ever had. I learned a lot about water control and saw many times over how the Dutch control water levels very intimately (the Dutch will regularly live barely a few inches above canals!) and I fell in love with the environmentally-friendly and effective way in which the entire country operates (not only do you bag your own groceries, but stores don’t even offer plastic bags, only reusable! If you don’t bring one to the store, you have to pay a quarter or so to get one). I went to the store a bajillion times a week like the Dutch and got a lot of practice in listening to the language. I felt the Netherlands become my second home. I watched Eurovision for the first time. And I experienced a friend group much like the ones I have in Florida and felt completely at ease in my new surroundings.

Continue reading My 2012 in pictures

Pros and cons of different countries I’ve been to so far

I’ve found a lot of differences between England, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the US in my travels, and I’d like to espouse on those here. Every place has its advantages and disadvantages, some more obvious than the others:

England

England walk

Default grocery stores: Sainsbury’s, Tesco.
Payment:
Visa, MasterCard, and other major debit and credit cards; cash.

Pros

  • Good food selection: There’s a huge selection of food here, much like in the US, and especially when you go to Sainsbury’s.
  • Fair number of places to find cheap things: England has a lot of different shops, but even though they can be quite expensive, you can usually find another shop with a cheaper version of exactly what you were looking for.

Continue reading Pros and cons of different countries I’ve been to so far

Tips for traveling abroad and learning online

It’s time for me to give some tips on how to travel abroad and do some language learning online. Let me start by telling you what I did to get to the Netherlands:

  • Talk to people online! We live in a world where you have no excuse to not know tons of people from all over, especially if you engage in activities that are very global, like gaming or learning languages online! 😉 There are always tons of people to meet on sites with content you’re interested in. I run an IRC channel (Internet relay chat; basically multiplayer notepad with people from all over) filled with gamers and game makers, and this is where I met the friend I’ve stayed with for the longest in the Netherlands. A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet! Remember, this is the Internet, so unless you have your address or information posted somewhere, people can’t harm you physically, and you won’t ever meet in person unless you fully control the amount of time you’ve known them, the location, and the number of people around, unlike meeting strangers in real life in dodgy places like bars! People nowadays are afraid of meeting people on the Internet and of anyone who uses a computer, as if these friends don’t exist because the chat is over a machine (then telephone conversations aren’t with real people either! ;)). Don’t be one of them! Look at where being social online has gotten me: two trips to Europe so far totaling 3 months in which I didn’t pay one cent of rent or hotel fees!

Continue reading Tips for traveling abroad and learning online

A Dutch summer

So, it’s time to share the news! I wanted to share that I will be spending two months in the Netherlands this summer! I can’t believe how much I’ve fallen in love with the Dutch culture and tolerance, and I’m eager to experience more of this attitude! My Dutch has also gotten remarkably strong, as my reading and listening comprehension continue to build even though I don’t work too actively on the language anymore. After awhile, your brain gets used to it and has seen the language for so long that reading and listening become fluid! I’m very excited that this has happened, as it reinvigorates me for any future languages I take on!

My main finals for university are finished and now I have more time to develop and do things I want to do. I played the Diablo III beta over the weekend, and it’s a very fun game as a standalone, despite my belief that it’s not worthy of the Diablo title. I’ve also been messing around in The Sims 3: Late Night and SimCity Societies, because playing games is the best way to get ideas on what makes a game fun (and also to see what just doesn’t work, like World of Warcraft-ifying everything in order to make more money). =)

Continue reading A Dutch summer

Dutch friend in Florida

Whew! Hello!

My friend from the Netherlands is finally here! He arrived in Florida yesterday after 15 hours of travel from the Netherlands. I’m excited to say he’ll be staying with me for a bit. It’s really great seeing him again. 🙂

And there’s other good news about yesterday too, of course! By simply taking the chart from lernu.net (a site for Esperanto learners), rearranging it in the opposite direction (that is, switching the rows and columns), and putting the question words in an order that was easy to remember (who, what, where, when, how, why, etc.), I was successfully able to memorize the Esperanto correlatives; thus, that mission is complete! I also succeeded in another personal mission by its deadline, which was yesterday as well, so I’m feeling particularly swell. 🙂

Back from Christmas in Amsterdam!

Hello! I was caught up in doing all kinds of things in the Netherlands, but now I’m back home and starting a new school semester! Here’s a very short list of some things that happened:

  • Met a great and close online friend of mine, at whose house I ended up staying for three full weeks out of the month I was there!
  • Lived in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Noordwijkerhout
  • Stuffed my face with so much Dutch food it’s criminal. My favorites include appelflappen, pannenkoeken, and stroopwafels, pictured in order:


Continue reading Back from Christmas in Amsterdam!

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! =)