So much has happened since the last time I blogged that I don't know where to start! I guess the most important thing is that I started school. September 5 was the first day so I now have 2 weeks under my belt.
The first day of school only lasted for 30 minutes. We just got all of our books, our schedule, and met our mentor for the year. It was a good way to get a feel for the school and mentally prepare for the year. I also got my first real taste of biking. It is 13 kilometers, 26 there and back!! That is really a lot. It takes almost a full hour unless you are trying to go fast. My legs will be strong by the end of the year!
Anyway I like my schedule. If you don't have a class you are allowed to leave school and go to town. I have several breaks in my schedule, mostly for lunch, where I can take advantage of this. It is fun to shop around for a little while or get something to eat (they have good sandwiches). Also if you don't have the first or the last class you can come later/get out earlier. I only start at 8:15 twice a week, the other days at 9:10. Four times a week I get out of school at 2:30, the other day at 3:20. With all of the biking things take a little longer but I am getting used to it.
As for actual school I think it is going pretty well. Some subjects are next to impossible to understand (History, Dutch, ANW) but all of the teachers are really nice and cooperative. There are some things I can fully participate in like Math, Gym, and Drawing. Other subjects I am taking are English, Maatscapillar (political science), and German. Most times if I can't understand I just sit in class listening to the teacher or translating words with my dictionary. It gets a little boring at times but hopefully in a few months I will be able to get the gist of all of my classes. I am also getting tutored in Dutch twice a week by students from the school. We are doing the same lessons that AFS gave us so I don't know how helpful it will be. I am already on lesson 12 and we started over at lesson 1!
There are six exchange students including me in my school. There is one other girl from America who is in almost all of my classes. We go to town together a lot and just hang out a lot in general. It is nice to be able to talk to someone else with English as their native language! I am also trying to make some dutch friends! It is hard because I can not understand their conversations but if I am talking to someone one on one they are almost always willing to switch to English.
My dutch is getting better and I speak mostly in dutch with my host family now. If someone is speaking slowly and simply then I can understand a lot. It is hard to believe that in 4 weeks I have learned so much! It really gives me hope that by the end of the year I will be fluent or at least close.
Last weekend we had an AFS orientation with all of the kids who came to the Netherlands. The orientation site was 2 hours away so I took the train. I didn't want to go alone so I met up with a girl from Turkey and we rode together.
It was fun to meet people from all over the world. We had a lot of workshops about the dutch language and culture. Other than that we mostly just hung out and talked to each other about our experiences in the Netherlands so far. On Saturday night we had a talent show. I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with one of the other Americans. I know it sounds weird but you just had to be there.
Yesterday I went to Leeuwarden with my host family. We saw an air show that goes on once every couple of years. It was really neat to see, planes from the army were flying around doing tricks in the air. There were also lots of planes, helicopters, and other army vehicles on display. You could even get in them and see what everything looks like from the inside.
After we got back from Leeuwarden I went with my host mom to a village parade. It was fun to see all of the different floats. Everyone had built their own wagons and painted them with different themes.
Now it is Sunday morning and I am not sure what we will do today. Normally we get a late start and then eventually do some cleaning, a pretty relaxing day.