Friday, June 22, 2007

More About the Trip

So, more about the trip. I'll be in Amsterdam for one conference and Utrecht for the second, but I'll actually be spending most of my time in Rotterdam. Or as my Lonely Planet Netherlands guide calls it, "Mighty Rotterdam." :-) I haven't actually been there yet, but I suspect R'dam is seriously underrated. I mean, quaint old buildings are nice, I like them a lot, but when they are filled with stoned American college students, they lose their charm.

Rotterdam, on the other hand, is not so infested, has really amazing architecture, and excellent design being practiced in general. I'm looking forward to visiting a city where things are really going on and the main industry is not tourism. (I'm not saying this is true of Amsterdam, but certainly it's a prominent feature there.) I'll be staying there during my trip and in between conferences I'll be interviewing people at various cultural institutions and schools that are involved with New Media (or cyberculture, or whatever term we are using this week). And, on top of that, my university and the Piet Zwart Institute Media Design program are working out a joint Master of Arts program, so I am meeting with people there too. They are putting me up, which has allowed me to stay for 16 days. I'm really excited to have such a nice long visit and am practicing my Dutch.

Yes, nearly everyone there does speak English fluently, but for one thing, it's just polite to at least learn how to say "hello," "please," and "thank you." In my case though, it's a little more of an issue because I have a Dutch last name and I guess I am tall enough and blondish enough to be taken for a native and it's embarrassing to be completely ignorant. Actually, not entirely ignorant, because I studied Old Saxon in grad school, from which both English and Dutch have developed. So sometimes when I hear some Dutch, I understand a lot without being able to really say how. Anyway, if you want to practice a little Dutch, try the Laura Speaks Dutch
website, by Brenno de Winter. Rather than being like a standard lesson, it's more like talking to someone about the Netherlands and about speaking Dutch, and I find it sinks in better. You can also find it in iTunes.

Next time maybe some more about the interviews--the whys and whos.

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