Four weeks ago I could barely ask ‘Hoe gaat het met jou?’ and I could only offer two responses, ‘Prima!’ or ‘Goede!’. Now I can express my mood on good and bad days! Not only that but this course has allowed me to settle into Dutch culture whilst giving me some lasting tools to help me further my learning of the Dutch language. I can now understand so much of what is being said around me as well as now being able to decipher some Dutch texts. That being said my speaking has come on leaps and bounds but is not at the level of my reading, however that is usually the case with language learning and the only way to get better is to keep speaking!
Now that my time in the course has finished I have the confidence to enter shops, attend appointments at the bank, gemeentehuis (council) without beginning the conversation in English…which is very easy to do! Sure I have made mistakes (probably more than I realise!) but when I reveal that I have only ‘lived’ in the Netherlands for four weeks, people are beyond surprised and very encouraging. Personally, the course has been a great stepping stone for me to move to the Netherlands. I have made so many friends and have been able to discover the nuances of the Dutch culture with a great group of people.
Leaving Westerbork for the final time was rather sad! It has been a great bubble of learning and meeting people, who are for many different reasons trying to reach the same goal. Our final day included our last lesson, packing, cleaning and then all joining in the rain once more for the end of course BBQ! We were all given our certificates and enjoyed catching up with everyone without the immediate pressure of homework! Some people I had not seen since the welcome BBQ due to clashing timetables and my own habit of staying close to my apartment to study! So we were all able to exchange contact details and further discuss our immediate plans for our new knowledge. After the food had been eaten the guitar came out earlier than normal due to the terrible weather! As usual the singing created endless enjoyment as we killed many traditional Dutch songs with our differing Dutch levels and also differing singing abilities! All squished in one classroom the evening was truly gezellig!
The next day we all bundled into our transfers to the train station and quickly put into practice our vocab learnt in our lesson ‘Met de trein’. Despite having gone over the ticket buying process at length in the classroom, my friend and I were still dumbfounded by the OV-Chipkart and after asking a very nice lady we finally were able to buy the correct ticket and be on our way to Groningen. With all our bags we said our goodbyes as we headed onto to our different destinations. My new goal is to try and return to the summer school next year, but as a advanced student! I am after all going to be living here, so theoretically that is completely achievable, but until then baby steps!