Last night I started my first Dutch class by ROC Mondriaan. It is B1 level and my particular class meets on Monday and Wednesday nights from 6:45 to 10:00PM. It runs for 20 weeks, so with some holidays factored in it will probably end sometime in February (!). I knew that I had to get there early to pay for the class so I arrived at the school at 6:30. There were 5 people ahead of me in line, but I managed to get done just before 6:40, though I then had to go to another line to get my official roster and figure out what classroom I was in. By the time I was done at 6:40, there were about 20 people waiting behind me in first line to pay.
Needless to say, when I actually made it to the classroom there was only one other person there, a student. I tried to speak to him in Dutch but he looked really confused and kept switching to English. (He would then confuse me later when he spoke pretty decent Dutch to the teacher and had good pronunciation skills when reading a passage from a book. Okay…)
The first class was… the first class. People trickled in over the next hour as they paid for the course and came upstairs. While there were 24 students signed up for this section, only 15 were there last night.
There were a few interesting stories from the students… one of them studying as a software engineer in India but when she moved here the only work she could find was as a cleaner (schoonmaker). That is probably partially the language barrier and partially just the poorer economy in general. Or perhaps she didn’t finish her degree. Another gentleman moved here from Iran in 1995 as a vluchteling (refugee) but was stuck as a vluchteling for 11 years! During that time you are not allowed to work, study, or do anything much while they decide whether you can stay. You also have to live in assigned housing areas.
We didn’t find out until we were at the first class what book we needed to buy. While the professor had copied the first chapter, we need to find our own copy. I went to the recommended bookstore (a bit of a walk) but they did not have it so I decided to reserve a copy at a bookstore a bit closer to home. I can pick it up on Thursday morning. Also the professor we had tonight was a substitute of sorts – they are not sure who are final professor is for Monday nights. So it seems like we will have a different person teaching us for the Monday class than the Wednesday class, which might prove interesting.
Finally (as I need to wrap this up and head to my volunteer job), the class itself wasn’t as hard as I had hoped. They used to use a different textbook but due to price issues (120 euros) they went with the current textbook (40-42.50 euros). Unfortunately the professor said that the cheaper one is not as good. Also, like every class, some students learn faster than others (to put it diplomatically) so it seems like I will continue with my self studying while the class itself goes on. Geen probleem. (No problem.)
But considering the subsidized price (30 euros for the entire 20 weeks, 42.50 for the textbook) it is completely worth it!