This is the English version; the Dutch version is here if you want to check out what it looks like and see how much you can understand.
My first week in the Netherlands is now finished. I met my suitemates and began my class. I had forgotten a bit more Dutch than I had thought, but I think that after this month my Dutch will be better. Right now I know enough to get around decently, as long as I do not have to go into much detail.
In addition to the class and homework, I have explored parts of Utrecht and the surrounding area. My bike was one of my first purchases, and I am quite happy with it. Biking in the Netherlands seems easier and safer than in the US, because there are so many paths and cyclists. Either you can ride beside the road away from cars, or the cars are expecting cyclists and are careful. I’m sure there are exceptions, but so far this has been my experience. The ground is a lot flatter than in Atlanta or Norman, so it is easier to ride farther. This has been very helpful in exploring Utrecht.
This weekend I went on two daytrips. The first time I went to Amsterdam with a student from my class to visit the Rijksmuseum. Old Dutch paintings are really wonderful. I love the light and action in them. I also learned a lot about Dutch history through the paintings. For such a small land, the Netherlands has fought with a lot of its neighbors and colonized a lot of the world. After the museum, we walked around a bit.
Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, Rembrandt’s Night Watch and another Rembrandt
The next day, I went on an excursion with the school to the Kroller-Muller museum in the Hoge-Veluwe National Park. The Kroller-Muller museum was very interesting, with a collection that included Van Gogh, impressionists, and Mondriaan. The park was also lovely, with surprising sandy, grassy dunes in the middle.
Of course, one of my favorite activities is bookshopping. I found a used bookstore where I got a book about Middle Dutch. Maybe it is not the most useful book, but it is very interesting. For example, several centuries ago the word for read, lezen, meant to collect.