I never thought I would say this about the Dutch language…

Over a year ago, I began learning Dutch in order to move to the Netherlands to live with my boyfriend. Having such a strong motivation made learning a bit easier but not free of obstacles. As much as I learned and tried and advanced, I felt the language was rough, aggressive, very different to my personality. However, I remained hopeful that one day I would learn it and speak it fluently. Although I am not there yet, the closer I get, the better I feel about the language itself.

On Wednesday, I was traveling by train from Amsterdam to my home. Due to repairs, I had to detour and the journey took longer than expected. I was tired and didn’t want to read. Luckily for me, three young teenage girls sat next to me. It seemed they had just been shopping in Amsterdam and were going home. The talked about their day, looked over their purchases and made plans for the weekend. At some point, one of them thought it was a great idea to go to the beach. The train was nearing The Hague and the beach is very nearby. Two of the girls lit up with joy at the idea of the beach, but the third girl wasn’t convinced. As they tried to convince her, she explained that she didn’t want to go home late, that her parents expected her, etc. The other two would not budge. Every stop of the train, they would grab the bags and pull her to get up. They promised to be home early, they mentioned the new bathing suit she had purchased, they begged her to please accept. Everything was said to pressure the girl without being rude.

Once we arrived to Rotterdam, I lost sight of them as we switched trains. From what I understood, the two girls that wanted to go to the beach had won. They were joyous and loud the way only teenagers can be. As I waited for my next train, I realized something important had happened. First, I had eavesdropped on these girls and understood their conversation…a big plus for my listening comprehension skills. But most importantly, I enjoyed hearing them speak Dutch. At no point did I feel the language to be rough, rude, or distant. It was warm and inviting because the girls were warm and inviting.

I am proud to say I have crossed the threshold of being distant with Dutch. The language is becoming a part of me, a part of my stories, a part of my life which in no way is cold and aggressive.

Extreme Reading is my Sport!

I must admit that up until a month ago, I wasn’t much of a sporty person. My free time was spent either reading or writing, and I simply saw working out as time that could be better spent reading. When I would go to a doctor and he/she would ask me about what physical activities I did, I simply replied “extreme reading.” Needless to say, most doctors found my remark not funny.

The past couple of weeks I have devoted a lot of my time to reading. I always read, but these past three weeks have been intense. I am devouring books every day, hungry to find the next good read. I have a very long list of books I want to read, and I am happy to be making progress this fast.

One of the books on this list is Haruki Murakami’s novelĀ 1Q84. I remember a friend of mine was reading it and the title captivated me. I wrote it down on my reading list more than a year ago, and I finally got to it. I have been reading this novel for a couple of days now and I just can’t seem to put it down. The novel is filled with so much detail, so much magic, so much plot, and yet every page gives me something new. I’ve read about 70% of the novel (I love that feature in my kindle, together with the reading time estimate based on how fast I read), and I KNOW I don’t know anything about the characters. I have no clue how it will end; I can’t even speculate it will end one way because I know Murakami will change it. I am on the edge of my seat with this novel.

So if you are looking for something interesting to read, keep this novel in your mind. It requires a significant time investment (over 900 pages), but it is worth it. Every novel I’ve read of Murakami has captivated me, but I will admit that few books in my life have had this effect on me.