Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

I run the blog http://www.lifeinthehague.com

Another reason to learn Dutch (Or: Fraud detection)

Marco came across a funny news story about a women in Florida who had apparently slipped on the wet floor of Target (a retail store like Hema but on a larger scale) last year. She complained of neck, legs, back and shin pain. Sounds awful.

Except that is not what happened.

After she got the attention of some of the Target workers, she called her mother and told her in Dutch that she had simply sat on the ground and was looking for insurance money. There is no problem calling her from the store, right? I mean, there are only about 17 or 18 million people in the world who speak Dutch…

Turns out one of the workers spoke Dutch. Ouch!

Upon reviewing the security footage, Target was able to clearly see that she simply sat down on the ground and she was charged with insurance fraud.

News story: English version || Nederlandse versie

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Taalhuis (Of: Bij de Centrale bibliotheek in Den Haag)

Earlier this year the Dutch books moved from the 4th floor of the Central library to the second floor. I was recently on the library’s website and came across a mention of the Taalhuis (“Language house”). Someone is available for a few hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Here is the linked article translated in English:

Taalhuis

Difficulty with reading, writing or speaking the Dutch language? Stop by the Taalhouse on the second floor of the Centrale bibliotheek. Here you can find books, cd-roms and practice material to help you. During the consultation hours there is someone available to help you with questions. You are welcome to stop by.

What does the Taalhuis do?

If you need help with learning how to read or write the Dutch language better, you can come to the Taalhuis. Volunteers can support you by finding the right information about language courses or education in The Hague. But the Taalhuis also has a collection available to help you with self study: study material to learn reading and writing the language better. Or to help someone else with improving their language abilities. The collection in the Taalhuis is available during the opening hours of the Centrale bibliotheek. Only during the consultation hours is someone available to help you with finding a course that works best for you.

Consultation hours
Tuesday from 11.00 – 13.30 hours
Thursday from 13.00 – 15.30 hours

Categories: Courses, Reading | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Curious to see what is being built? (Or: Peek here)

Near Central Station they are currently working on revamping a new building. This of course means half of the path being blocked off and unusable to commuters and locals for months. Of course, I’m exaggerating a little bit. Of course, they do provide little windows of sorts to see what its going on on the other side…

construction window in The Hague

The words above the image say “Curious? Take a quick peek behind the walls!”

Of course, I did not take a picture of what was actually behind the wall, but I am sure you can guess what it looked like. :)

Categories: The Hague | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The headline said what? (Or: B2-C1 course #3)

One of the more amusing things that we did in the Dutch course a few nights ago was look at headlines that might have double meanings:

odd headlines or signs in Dutch

With headlines like this:

Nieuwe baas Douwe Egberts komt van Mars = The new boss for Douwe Egberts [coffee company] comes from Mars… but they mean Mars incorporated, the candy/etc seller, not the planet. I hope.

Verkeer van Druten naar Nijmegen moet 3 dagen omrijden = Traffic from Druten to Nijmegen must detour for three days. What they actually mean is that the need for a detour will last three days – the Netherlands is definitely not big enough for a three day detour!

Eikels beschadigen auto’s in Hoog-Keppel = Eikels has two meanings in Dutch. The first, and what they mean here, is acorns. But it is also slang for the derogatory term ‘prick’ – which also makes sense in this context, though you’d never see it in a headline.

We also talked a bit more about the term “lekker” and the various ways it can be used. It is at times a hard concept to grasp for the non-Dutch. The easiest way is to use the term is with food, to say that the food is tasty (lekker).

But you can also use it with temperature or weather – Het is lekker warm buiten, with smells – Dat ruikt lekker. - with sounds – De gitaar klinkt lekker, and more. You can even use it sarcastically: Dat is lekker belangrijk (That is really important – but not really). Or Hij is lekker laat. He is late. Or the oddest of them all: Het stinkt lekker! Since things stink (but some people still like the smell).

Next week is herfstvakantie (fall vacation) so I will have a week off.

Categories: Courses | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Another step (Or: C1 course #1-2)

So… as I mentioned a few weeks back, I registered for a B2-C1 course. Originally I had registered for a course which focused only on the speaking component but that fell through, so I am now registered for a full B2-C1 course (speaking, writing, reading and listening).

It’s… interesting. I have been to two lessons so far (hence the blog post title). Het huiswerk? Daar had ik echt geen zin in! The homework? I had absolutely no desire to do that. But the second week seemed better, and more like a routine again.

You can tell that it is an advanced course – the emphasis is more on “the little things”. I learned a new term from our textbook Hogerop! De puntjes op de i  – the term is prosodie (English | Dutch wikipedia). It’s the study of rhythm, stress and intonation of speech. How does it sound to your ear? Does it sound like a native speaker is talking? An example is using contractions like a true speaker would — ‘k instead of ik‘m instead of hem, and similar. Much like English would say “I wouldn’t do that” instead of “I would not do that” which sounds less natural.

There’s also an emphasis on uitdrukkingen or fixed expressions, like met een mond vol tanden staan, or ‘with a mouthful of teeth’ = not able to say anything.

So – it’s a class to round out the edges and refine your language skills. Officially it ends in early December, but I found out during the last lesson that that this is technically only half of the B2-C1 course, and that the other half is offered in the Spring. Hmmm. We’ll have to see what happens!

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Lounging around The Hague (Or: Cute kitty)

Over the weekend Marco and I were able to get a photo of a kitten. This was a remarkably calm cat who allowed us to come within a few feet of him (we had to walk past) and didn’t mind having his photograph taken.

cat in The Hague

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Outside with coffee (Or: Last day of summer)

Marco and I went out today for a cup of coffee, eventually ending up at the Buitenhof plein. The main reason for doing it today was that the temperature will drop after some rain tonight – and that marks the end of summer. Although I guess we should be glad we made it to October with 20c/68f days!

cup of coffee in The Hague

 

Of course with the beginning of autumn, you get to look forward to the upcoming holiday season. Unfortunately Halloween (English | Dutch wikipedia) isn’t as big here as it is in America (although it is growing in popularity).

And the changing leaves, and the crispness of the air…

But still, I am going to miss being able to have a cup of coffee outside.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Food | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Sand sculptures (Or: Art in The Hague)

A few days ago I came across another opportunity to do a sand-related post! The Hague has been celebrating Prinsjesdag this summer. One way they have been doing this is by creating a temporary sand art tourist attraction (read more in Dutch). This is quite similar to the photos I was able to grab in 2010 while here on vacation.

This year there were three sculptures done:

landing of Prince of Orange sand art The Hague

a sculpture capturing the arrival (“aankomst”) of William I in Scheveningen in 1813.

Willem I sand art in The Hague

a sculpture of Willem I, with the older look on the left and a slightly more modern full body view on the right

200 jaar koninkrik sand art in The Hague

sand sculpture about Prinsjesdag 2014, with the golden carriage in the front and the modern skyline of The Hague behind (words below are “200 jaar koninkrijk” or a celebration of the Netherlands being a kingdom for 200 years).

sand art in The Hague

a sideways look at all three sculptures together

Categories: The Hague | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Present from some friends (Or: Kinetic sand)

Yesterday I went out to eat with some friends to celebrate getting my NT2 programma II diploma. My taalcoach (language coach – from SamenSpraak) arrived with some gifts. There were three of them. One book about Dutch language (puzzles to help you learn the language), one 2015 daily calendar from Onze Taal (“Our Language”) and a third wrapped gift that was weirdly heavy.

Weird but cool! I got kinetic sand. Check out this YouTube video.

unshaped kinetic sandLooks like ordinary sand in the photo, no? Not quite. The sand particles only stick to themselves, which mans that it moves in clumps rather than separately. It looks really cool. Marco has already started playing with it a bit. Here was his first attempt:

kinetic sand first attempt

And check out this picture to see how it moves together:

kinetic sand movement properties

 

Note the pictures above show only half of the sand we were given; it was easier to keep the amount smaller to test what it looks like.

And finally, an image from the official website:

Categories: Friends&Family | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Into the darkness (Or: The north caves of Maastricht)

Unfortunately the vacation is now over. But I did come away with some nice photographs! We visited two Dutch cities – Arnhem and Maastricht. One of the places we visited in Maastricht was the caves of St. Pieter – the north caves to be exact. These caves were dug out to extract the limestone (or marl). At its largest it used to have 20,000 corridors and measured 230km. Now it measures about 80km.

Interestingly the first corridors were short enough that most adults would have to crouch to make their way through.  As time went on and more limestone was needed, the floor itself was dug out, creating tall corridors that were easily 4-5 meters tall in some places. The guide also showed us ruts in the wall at some corners. The most efficient way to transport the limestone out was by cart and horse and horses tend to take the shortest way possible, which meant that they would push the wheels of the cart against the wall, creating the ruts.

The best part of the tour was when the tour guide asked us if we wanted to walk a bit of the caves in complete darkness. About 30 meters – this stretch had no turns on the left side for you to lose yourself, so all you had to do was keep your left hand on the wall and walk carefully/slowly. Note that this was an option – those who did not want to partake went on ahead with the lanterns and waited for us to arrive. It was incredible (and I humbly admit this was because it was in a controlled environment). I was nervous at a few points though!

Here are some photos of the drawings. Note that these were done in charcoal as that was the only medium that would not decay in this damp, cold environment (10c/50f year round).

Continue reading

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