Navigating faith, love, and life in the Netherlands

Thursday, October 10, 2013

First Dutch lesson - part 1

Imagine with me, if you will, going to your first day of Dutch lessons.  This local educational institution tested you a month ago, then said you would have to wait until a space opened up in a class at your level.  They recommended you aim for the Staatsexamen (State Exam) toward your eventual goal of dual citizenship.

[I wanted to be in a group lesson rather than individual, so that I would be more motivated to do my homework and could meet some people! I preferred day classes, since I would still have time with Randolf when he was home in the evenings, but told them I would consider evenings if that got me in a class sooner.]

You patiently waited, frustrated at times because you stayed home all day (or went to the store). 

Eventually, the administration called and said there was room in an A2-B1 course, Mondays and Wednesdays, for the next six months, from 6:45pm to 10pm.  Begrudgingly, you accepted, not wishing to lose the majority of 2 1/2 evenings a week with your new husband.

In the paperwork they mailed, there was a disclaimer: You must bring a copy of your residence document - a US passport is not enough!  I called the school once to speak with my mentor, but she was not available.  So on another day, I cycled there with a copy of the sticker/stamp in my passport, only to be told that wasn't good enough either.  I tried to explain I did not have the residence card with me, as the IND would notify by November, but currently I am approved to stay through February.  This issue was not resolved, and it was made all the frustrating as nothing was stated in my first meeting. 

On October 7, my husband and I arrived at this local school to work out some of these paperwork issues, met first by a security guard who seemed to be new on the job.  Entertaining. 

As we waited to speak with my mentor, it appeared that there were many others who already seemed to know what they were doing.  They entered the computer lab by scanning their ID cards - where was my ID card?  They took their seats and logged into the computer program - what was my user name and password? What program were we using?

Eventually this older man with long grey hair pulled into a ponytail began to help me.  First, the security guys took a photo for my ID badge.  Then, I stood around in the classroom while he did something on a computer.  Finally he sat me at a computer and told me my login information - and promptly disappeared across the room.

I tried to follow the steps on the whiteboard to access the program, but discovered it was not on my Start menu.  When the older man appeared again, I learned that it was web-based - and also received a headset with mic to use (never mind that I had already bought one to use for NTS).

FINALLY, after thirty minutes, I could start the computer lesson -- with the introduction.  This was way too easy, so I wanted to fly through it.

At one point, there were some questions that required me to record my voice, but it turned out I was prompted to install some software.  I clicked cancel.  Bad idea.  My page refreshed and I lost my progress in that first section.

With 5 minutes to go in the lab session, the older man decided I should view the tutorial of how the program worked.  This was a waste of time, as I had already figured it out by completing part of the introductory lesson.


Tune in next time for stories about break time, the group lesson, and a description of language levels.

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