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Hartelijk welkom bij mijn blog!

I bet you weren’t expecting a post title that looks like that. Now you’re probably thinking, ‘oh please, don’t let this be some idiot boring me to death with their stupid foreign language skills.’

I won’t speak to the idiot part, but I can tell you that I am not flaunting my language skills. For the record, my Dutch is very much a work in progress. Some days I can work my way through various simple conversations and interactions and think “ah, well done.” Other days it seems my brain isn’t connected to my tongue, and I can’t recall 90% of what I’ve learned. So believe me, I am not trying to impress you with my Nederlands. It’s just that I love seeing written Dutch. I’ve been here 18 months and the language still cracks me up! All of the ‘ij’ words. The letter ‘j’ just does not get much use in English, so I find it amusing to see it in what seems like every third word.

Hearing Dutch spoken is even stranger. No disrespect whatsoever to the Dutch, but it is truly a challenging language with some of the oddest sounds around (at least in my humble opinion). Now I’ve learned bits and pieces of other languages over the years, and so I’ve had a little experience hearing the unfamiliar. But nothing prepared me for the aural onslaught when I first heard Dutch conversations buzzing around me. It’s an odd mix of lots of “eye” sounds (all those pesky ‘ij’ words again) and an almost lilting sing-song quality that is a bit higher pitched than you’d expect from such tall folk. And what has to be one of the strangest sounds I’ve ever heard: the Dutch pronounciation of the letter ‘g.’ I can only describe it as the sound you’d make if you tried making an ‘h’ while blowing out and clearing your throat all at the same time. It hurts just trying to make the sound. It takes loads of practice and saliva. And when you finally conquer it, it feels like winning an Olympic medal in linguistic gymnastics. Or I should say what I think that would feel like.

So anyway, welcome to my blog. It’s about me and my American expat family making a new life in a new place (Den Haag, Netherlands). I’ll share stories and insights about the mundane and the exciting, the boring and the different, the funny and the not-so-funny, and finding the upside. Only with a bit of a twist since we’re living in a foreign country. (That and the fact that I’m a bit twisted anyway.) So as the post title says, Welcome to my blog!

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