Dear Cloggie Queries,
After "accidently" running into your Dutch blog while searching for good hair salon's to visit in the Netherlands, I simply cannot stop reading your posts! I am studying in Nijmegen, as my boyfriend is Dutch. We met at The University of Tennessee while he was an exchange student and two years later... here we are with the roles reversed! Since the US job market isn't quite flourishing right now, we both think the Netherlands is the best country to work/live in the coming year.
I noticed from a blog post that you were just as clueless in the Dutch language at one point as I currently am. Did you go to a special language institute to learn Dutch or was your husband helpful in teaching it to you? I feel so blessed to finally come across another person whose heart was stolen by a Dutchie because I've felt pretty alone in this process of culture/language differences with the local people, etc. Thankfully most of the Dutch know English, but I don't think a country would feel quite like home unless you could properly converse in their native language.
Thank you so much for your posts, they are so hilariously true of the Dutch and being in a relationship with one. I couldn't relate more with them!
Lonely in Nijmegen
Dear Lonely in Nijmegen,
Thanks for your email!
I’d check around on meetup.com or see if you can find an expat/American/international group in Nijmegen. I’m sure there’s at least one. There’s also an American blogger at Outside Looking In who is located in Nijmegen. So you are most certainly not alone in your predicament!
As for learning Dutch, my husband and a friend taught me a bit before I moved and I made it a point to use whatever Dutch I knew when I went out in public.
About a month after I moved here, I started a 12-week intensive course at a Volksuniversiteit and then started with a year-long inburgering program which was solely focused on learning the language. There are loads of Dutch courses available out there through loads of different schools and companies.
I’d recommend subscribing to Xpat Journal or The Holland Times or picking up a free copy of ACCESS Magazine. They always either feature a Dutch language school or have advertisements for Dutch language schools. Some Vrij Universiteiten offer Dutch classes as well and there’s a Volksuniversiteit almost everywhere.
Also check with the IND (immigration services) about doing the inburgeringscursus. Some gemeentes will cover the cost of books, classes, and the NT2 test (or some combination thereof) if you make a certain attendance percentage. Officially, you should be sent an invitation for inburgeringscursus within 2 or so weeks upon getting your residence permit, though they’re not always on top of this.
I've also included links to some very excellent websites for learning Dutch for free on the Links page under 'Learn Dutch.'
Thanks again for your email and best of luck to you!
What are your preferred methods for learning Dutch? Did you ever feel like you were an outcast or the only one of your kind? How did you overcome that feeling?