Global village: the Netherlands: meet Noortje: come see how Noortje and her American cousin Micah live the Dutch life!
I go to a high school--in the Netherlands, there aren't middle schools, so after eight years of elementary school, we go to high school. On school days, I head for school on my bike by 8:00 to get to school by 8:30. We get two breaks, and school's over by 2:20. Because courses get harder in high school, I study several hours a day.
Here's the best thing about school: sports. We play all kinds of sports, from a tag game called boeren kwajongens to soccer and tennis. Here's the worst school thing: tests--there are too many tests!
My big non-school activity is gymnastics, which I practice three times a week, including Saturday. We have competitions four to five times a year.
I like to play games, color (I enjoy the very detailed kind of coloring books), and watch TV or movies. I've got four playgrounds that I can walk to and play with friends and family. We might go on bike rides and get an ice cream. On Sundays, I get to sleep in, and then go see friends or family like my opa (grandfather) and oma (grandmother). In the summer, we can walk to our little boat on the river or go to a lake and swim.
I keep my room clean and do chores--I plan my housework by myself. It's great that girls and boys are treated equally in the Netherlands. I haven't decided what I might be when I grow up. I've got plenty of time for that!
My favorite holiday is Sinterklaas, the 5th of December. We celebrate with our whole extended family and grandparents. We get lots of presents, and with each gift, the giver presents a little rhyme to go with it. And after each present is opened, we all sing, "Dank je wel, Sinterklaas!" (Thank you, St. Nicholas). Each family also gives another family a surprise silly gift that has a rhyme that pokes fun (in a nice way) at the family. Sinterklaas is the best night of the year!
Sometimes I go to Walibi, a theme park that has awesome roller coasters and other rides. And my whole class went camping for four days at a nearby island, Terschelling. We stayed in little houses and it was very fun!
I like to go to cities such as Amsterdam or Utrecht. I'll just walk around and look at the people, the canals, and the nice old buildings. Utrecht is very special to me because my family from the US lived there this whole past year and we spent lots of time together. Turn the page to meet Micah, and here's all the Dutch cousins gathered.
Did you know? Noortje would say school ends at 14:20, not 2:20 p.m. The Dutch use a 24-hour dock, as do most nations. So after 12:00 noon, the numbers get higher. There, 1:00 p.m. is 13:00, and so on, and 23:59 is one minute until midnight. Then at midnight, it's 00:00 again.
Taste It: Poffertjes
Noortje says: My favorite foods are french fries and poffertjes. Poffertjes (say POF-furt-yas) are small pancakes about the size of a silver dollar, often made with buckwheat flour. We like to smother them in melted butter and powdered sugar.
Here's how to make them. Put one cup of warm milk in a bowl, and stir one teaspoon of yeast in it. Let it rest 10 minutes so you can see the bubbles that mean the yeast is active. In another bowl, combine one cup buckwheat flour, one cup wheat flour, two eggs, the yeast/milk mixture, one tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk until smooth. Cover the bowl and let it rest for an hour.
Melt butter in a frying pan. When it sizzles, add teaspoonfuls of the batter in circular movements to create small pancakes. Turn the poffertjes over as soon as the bottom has set and little bubbles appear on top. Cook another minute or so.
Plop on some butter and spinkle powdered sugar and enjoy. Eet smakelijk--enjoy your meal!
Note: You can use all wheat flour if you don't have buckwheat flour. Or if you want gluten-free poffertjes, use all buckwheat (which is not a wheat) or a gluten-free flour mix you prefer.
Say It in Dutch
Noortje says: I speak Dutch, English and a little bit of French. In my neighborhood, I hear Dutch, Turkish, Suriname, and English. Here are a few Dutch phrases:
Hoe gaat het met je?: How's it going?
Say it this way: Who ghat het met ya?
Je zieter leuk uit vandaag.: You look nice today.
Say: Ya ZEE-ter low-ck owt VAHN-dagh.
Heb je in het weekend nog wat leuk gedaan?: Did you do something fun this past weekend?
Say: Heb ya in het weekend nogh vat low-ck ghedan?
Get to Know the Netherlands
How many live in the Netherlands? Nearly 17 million people do.
Who rules? King Willem-Alexander, at right with wife Maxima and daughters (from left) Catharina-Amalia, Ariane, and Alexia, rules, along with a multiparty parliament.
Religion? Over 40% are non-religious, and the rest are Catholic (28%), Protestant (19%), and other, including Muslim (5%), Hindu, and Buddhist.
Wildlife? Red fox, seals, wild boar, and much more
Windmills? It's breezy there, so for centuries those big wind-powered arms have helped process food and other products from bread to paper to mustard. Windmills also help drain water away from a country that's near or under sea level. There are still almost 1,000 working windmills, as well as wind turbines for energy use.
Tulips? That's not the only flower that makes the Netherlands colorful--you'd see hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, and lilies, too! Flower markets are everywhere, as well as flower parades and museums.
Special foods? Sample herring (raw or cooked) and other fish; cheeses (Gouda and many more kinds); potato dishes such as stamppot (mashed potatoes with greens); bitterballen (meat or veggie balls); sweets such as oliebollen (similar to doughnuts) and stroopwaffels (waffle cookies).
Wooden shoes and funny hats?
Hmmm ... more for the tourists!
A Year in The Netherlands
Hi, I'm Micah, and I'm 8. I've lived In the Netherlands with my moms for a year. We came here because my mom Shannon has many Dutch relatives, Including my cousin Noortje. I love being around my Dutch family and I like many other things about living here. I'll miss them a lot when we move back to Ohio soon.
Here are a few favorites.
Hagel and snoepjes: Hagel are sprinkles, either colored or made of chocolate, that I sprinkle on my toast for breakfast. That's me at left with some favorite hagels. Snoepjes (pronounced snoop-yas) are the many kinds of candy sold In lots of stores. My favorites are jellybeans and candy pigs that taste a bit like cotton candy. All the sugary things here are awesome!
Molens: That's the Dutch word for windmills. I love It that I bike past this windmill going to school.
Friends: Sometimes I'm homesick and miss my friends from home, but I have friends here who are nice. Many kids at my International school have lived in places such as Singapore, India, Vietnam, France, and Russia.
Bikes: At first, I rode on the back of my mom Jenny's bike. Then I got my own bike and named her Mizz Owl (check out my light above). I started riding to places like school, which is about two miles away. A LOT of people ride bikes in the Netherlands, so sometimes it's a little scary to ride around all those bikes. But I love ringing my bell and pedaling-- sometimes when you're pedaling, you feel like you're just going to be free.
Cats: Cats are everywhere here. And I have my two cats from home, Mia MoZoe and Sir Walter Cuteheart of the Longtails.
Fun holidays and things to do: I really like going to the train museum and taking ice-skating lessons. People skate on the many canals when they freeze. I liked Sint Maarten's Day on November 11, which celebrates a saint who shared his clothes with a poor person. We saw Sint Maarten at a local church, and he rode his white horse inside! Kids dress up and carry lanterns and knock on doors asking for treats, but we must sing something first. I wish we had Sint Maarten's Day in the US!
Dutch Shero: Anne Frank
You may know about Anne Frank, a girl whose diary has touched millions of readers. Here's a bit from an article about Anne from NMG's very first issue in 1993. Read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and consider keeping your own diary. Visit NMGirlstore.com to find back issues.
On June 12, 1942, in Amsterdam, Anneliese Marie Frank celebrated her 13th birthday. One of her presents was a diary. Two weeks later, Anne and her family went into hiding. They could no longer live as they had--going to school and work--because of anti-Jewish laws. For the next two years, Anne lived with her parents, older sister Margot, and four other people in a tiny area she called "The Secret Annex." More than 25,000 Jewish people went into hiding in the Netherlands during World War II.
On August 4, 1944, the Nazi police raided the annex. All eight people were sent to various concentration camps. Later that day, friends of the family found and kept Anne's diary and other writings, waiting for her return.