Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mijn naam is Katya

So I'm beginning to feel more Dutch. Except for the part where I still can't understand any Dutch. But other than that I am acclimatizing very well. I started my Dutch course yesterday morning. I've discovered that the main difference between Dutch and German is the lack of hard Gs. No such thing as "Gah". It's "hhhhh". That sound like you're clearing your throat. So therefor a word such as geboren sounds like "hhhh-eboren". It's kind of fun, actually. Just as long as I remember to pronounce it right. Though right now my Dutch mainly consists of 'Mijn naam is Katya, spiel ik altviool.
I broke down and bought a phone - I was holding out hope for an iPhone, but for that you need a Dutch bank account, and to get that you need a BSN. They call it a "Burger Service Number", but that's not its actual name. Its the number the government gives you when you register. But I haven't registered yet.......I went down there yesterday and I had to make an appointment for their first available date. Sept. 9. But back to the phone. Because an iPhone requires a contract, I couldn't get it without a bank account. And although I'm not really expecting any calls, I didn't really want to go 2 weeks without a phone. It seems wrong. So I went to the T-Mobile store on Nieuwendijk and got a pre-paid phone. The advantage is that you just pay up front, and get the phone. Pretty good for me as well, since I'm not anticipating large amounts of phone calling taking place. But I'm still totally clueless about how phone numbers work in Europe. Seriously, I know there's a country code (033) and a city code (020) but I'm not sure my phone has one. It's very confusing. There's just a sticker on the box that says my phone number is "0681639711". Also, all the instructions on activating my phone are in Dutch. I managed pretty well, but I still don't know how to refill it. Sadly, my Dutch lessons have not yet covered phone set-up. I'm sure that's going to be covered very soon.
I had a fun time after class today hanging out at the AHK's Bureau Inschrivijn (Enrollment Office). I had to get a few forms signed for the Canadian government, one so that I don't have to start paying back my huge student loan, and another so I keep getting my sweet pension every month. But of course they were very busy, what with everybody trying to figure out how to register and pay their fees one week before school starts. Fools. But it's also very weird that the BI is only open from 1-4 every day. You'd think they'd at least have extended hours for the back to school rush. But apparently not. I then stood in line to get my visa sorted out, but because I only got to the BI at 3 (due to the fact my Dutch class went to 2:30) it soon became 4 and the BI closed. So I have to go back on Thursday, because the visa person doesn't work on Wednesdays.
As for the pictures, the first is of the view from my bedroom window. Pretty sweet, no? And the second is the underground parking at the Conservatory. This is the way every new building (in an accommodating climate of course - VANCOUVER) should work. They've made absolutely no provisions for vehicle parking, but there's an underground bike parking lot (that's monitored by security) as well as ample above ground bike parking in front of the school and the public library beside it. It also helps that it's a short walk from Amsterdam Centraal train station. And since you can pretty much catch a train/bus/tram/metro from anywhere and take it to Centraal. Efficient and inexpensive public transit definitely helps with the whole no vehicle thing. Anyhoo that's about all for now. I'm sure I'll have more news later.

Oh yeah. I bought some European Smarties today. They tasted kind of weird. It was extremely disappointing.

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