Gelukkige Verjaardag vs Happy Birthday

This past weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday party. It was a lovely affair with lots of cava, good conversation, and delicious hapjes and cake. It was quite gezellig. I was actually really quite proud of myself because I enjoyed most of the evening conversing with Mr. Isinvar’s grandmother completely in Dutch.

My mother-in-law got a visit from Mickey and Minnie on her birthday!

We had a lot of laughs even though my Dutch is far from perfect and her particular accent was a little difficult for me to understand. However, the evening did prove that my Dutch lessons have been paying off and I can now spend entire evening comfortably conversing with native speakers, which is really exciting for me!

Anyway, in light of the party, I wanted to take a little time to talk about the differences between Belgian birthday traditions and American Birthday traditions. Continue reading

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Why Learning a Language Makes You Feel Like a Toddler

Learning a new language as an adult is what I imagine it’s like to be a toddler. You can understand most everything that is going on around you, but you personally don’t have the language capabilities to communicate everything you want or think. Suddenly you understand part of the reason that they throw tantrums all the time.

And then you decide to learn Dutch, Continue reading

If a hug could be a word

Gezellig [ɣəˈzɛləɣ] (adj): 1) A warm sense of familiarity and connection one gets when sharing a moment with close friends and family. 2) A warm feeling that one feels around objects and atmospheres that inspire a sense of coziness and familiarity.

Defining “Gezellig”

Gezellig is one of those beautiful words that doesn’t translate to English well. Continue reading

(Not) Lost in Translation

Learning a new language is always a challenge. You struggle a lot with new grammar rules and remembering all the words for different things, so you have to make it fun and find the humor in things. I find humor in some of the literal translations of Dutch words and I thought I’d share a couple of those with you today.

1. Handtekening

  Continue reading

Chocolate Maggots

Typical Belgian BBQ

Typical Belgian BBQ

I’m sitting outside at the table at my brother-in-laws house with my husband and his family, enjoying the long summer days. We’ve just had a delicious barbecue with all sorts of different meat and sauce options; there was even Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue sauce.  It’s been a lovely afternoon filled with good conversation, jokes, jumping on the trampoline, and even a little bit of swimming in the long-rather-than-wide-backyard of a typical Belgian home.

The faint aroma of charcoal lingers in the air as we wind down the evening by sipping coffee and tea with bowls of ice cream. My husband carries on a conversation with his parents and his brother, but my attention is focused on my wonderful niece and nephew. Because of my limited language ability, I often find myself relegating myself to the kids table. Continue reading