Category Archives: Uncategorized

how our first work/study week went

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So we survived another week…a very important week it was!

Joop has (officially) worked for 2 weeks at his new office, Sky has finished her very first week at her new Spanish/Catalans international school, and I have completed 2 (out of 10) days of basic Catalans course. Oh woww…sounds impressive right?!

The week went well. Of course, all of us have some ups and downs moments, but so far so good. Joop has tried his best only to speak Spanish at work, and he feels he is progressing. More vocabulary learnt and if the context is right he can quite follow the big line of the conversation (I’m trying to be very careful here…because just don’t think we can have a great conversation. Only the basic things so far!) ๐Ÿ˜€

And miraculously I could also quite follow my Catalans lessons, with my very little knowledge of Spanish! The teacher is just great, she speaks very slowly and tries her best to help all of us (no Spanish nationality in the class, almost all come from Latin America). Concerning the Catalans language, I will only follow the 10-days basic course. Simply because my Spanish course will also start next week (2 days a week), and it collides with the next level of Catalans course. Pity!

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And how about Sky… Well, she is fine!!! She liked her first week at school, much to our delight!! If you remember my post a few weeks ago about how much my worry is…none of them turns real, because she comes home everyday full of stories to tell and she really seems to enjoy it all. I asked her if she could understand when the teachers speak in English (one third of the time). She could a bit, and mostly it’s enough. The lessons spoken in Spanish (sport and math) and Catalans (music) luckily contain many universal words. But, she also recognized that she could hardly speak back, even worse if she wanted to explain things. It’s frustrating. We all know that feeling!

The funny thing is about the lunch and the afternoon snack. We know Sky loves food. And it’s also the first thing we discuss everytime I pick her up at school. I can access the monthly menu at the school internal website so I know what she got or will get, but she just loves to explain what she has eaten, and that she always finishes them all… Well that’s at least one less issue for us. ๐Ÿ˜€ She also doesn’t have issues having lunch an hour later than what we do at home. Again, my worry just disappears in the air….

So once again, so far so good. We are getting into our daily rhythm and doing things we are planning to do. Everyone is healthy and happy… and this adventure has started to get its shape.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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first day of school in Spain

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For many Spanish parents it’s a big relieve to walk their children to school again this morning, after 11 weeks (!!!) of summer holiday (compared to 6 weeks in the Netherlands). But for me, it feels so unreal how fast the past weeks gone by. We now live 6 weeks here in Spain, have been busy with so many things and have passed through many milestones in such a short period of time… but today marks a very important milestone in our life: The first day Sky goes to school in our new homeland. First time wearing a school uniform! She is really looking forward into it:

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This month the children are allowed to wear their sport uniforms because the weather is just still too warm for the “official” uniform, which is made of thick material. The ‘problem’ with uniforms is, that you have to put names on all of them, from the backpack to the swimming suit. That’s the advice I got from another mom and also from school. So we ordered a name-sticker which you can iron on the clothes (or sew on the bags). Like this:

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The school starts at 08.50 and will end at 16.35, all the same from Monday till Friday. Again, very different compared to her school in the Netherlands (08.30 – 15.00, and on Wednesday till 12.30). The long hours are compensated by having 2 hours long afternoon break (in NL 1 hour), including having lunch together at the big dining room. Sky is so curious what kind of meal she would get today! Actually I can check the monthly menu on the internal school website, but we have made an agreement that I will only check it when she has gone to school, haha…. (pstt, I have just take a look and all the menu seems delicious!! I think she will like most of them). This is the school dining room:

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Last week we had a parent’s meeting at school, where presentations were given both in general (we had a special English version in a different room) and in the children’s own classroom by the teachers themselves. Children were not allowed to join this meeting, so we had to arrange a sitter for Sky. The first time in her life she stayed at home with a sitter! (talking about milestones….) We’re lucky to find a Dutch sitter, an 18 years old girl who has lived here for about 5 years. Sky was all happy and enthousiast about her! This is a picture during the presentation in the class (which was all in Spanish, with occasionally some English summaries afterwards). As long as I know there are 3 non-Spanish children in the class, out of 23.

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And the last Friday before the school starts was an Open Day. Parents and children are allowed to come in the class and met the teachers. We got explanations and guided tour around the school. Such a good idea, especially for new students and parents like us. At least now Sky knows where the nearest toilet is and where she should go to fill in her water bottle. We also got to see the classes, the library, the dining room, the gym, the playground, the computer room and the music room:

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I have to admit I’m quite nervous today. I try to keep myself busy (like by writing this blog), but still I kept looking at the clock and thinking ‘What is she doing right now? Is she happy, not getting a headache from all the foreign languages spoken and the new children around her?” Oh my, I can’t wait to hear all her stories when I pick her up (or not, maybe she doesn’t feel like sharing them today. All okay). Tomorrow is a Catalonian Public Holiday (Diada Nacional de Catalunya), so happy with that. Then we have one day to take a rest from this impressive ‘first day’.

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worry

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Mothers are made to worry, especially when it comes to their little ones.

I’m worry if Sky would be okay with our big move. If she would like our new house here in Spain, with us busy settling things down and learning the language and everything new around us…

I’m worry, because she will soon enter a new school and learn 3 new languages at once. Three!!! Which means she will be in a new environment, with all new teachers and kids who all speak languages she does not understand yet. We try our best to teach her some English the past half year, but that’s so far from enough. At least, that’s my worry…

And she is such an observant girl. Not shy, like some people might think at first sight. She would not jump into anything before she’s comfortable enough with it. She needs to watch and understand the situation first, and it might take some times. Maybe she would not easily make friends in her new class… At least, that’s my worry…

I was reading her new school schedule and oh what a long day they will make at school. Much longer than the school days in the Netherlands, almost 2 hours longer! Wouldn’t she be too tired? And their lunch start at 13.20!! Oh my, that’s so late! At her previous school the kids would have lunch at 12 (and at home also)! And she’s such an eater, will get cranky when her tummy rumbles. Poor little girl… At least, that’s my worry…

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But then,

She has never complained ever since we’re here. She always has a big smile on her face, and keep telling me what a beautiful house (with a big garden!) and a pretty green surrounding we now have in Spain. She is so sweet and helpful (what have I done to deserve this kid!)

We take her everywhere, from arranging some legal things (city hall, police office, parking office, other offices…) till shopping for the necessary home appliances (internet/tv/phone office, car dealers, electronics, diy-stores, garden and plants, water filter, outdoor furnitures, more diy stuff…) and she enjoys it all. Everything. Each of them is an adventure, and every single one is just as exciting. Whether it’s about finding a delicious dessert in the supermarket or to get our health insurance done at the bank. Whether it’s about wandering around the weekly city market or to register ourself in the city hall.

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blog1And then,

We got our first playdate. With two other mothers with their daughters (in total 5 girls together with Sky, all about the same age and all will go to the same school). We met at the park, and the girls immediately played together like they have known each other for years. The moms had a blast too. But for me it’s so special to see how Sky seemed to be at her ease. How much fun she had although she might not understand all words said (almost all in English). How children can easily play together without having to worry.

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And moms like me…well, we are made to worry. It’s in our nature, I guess. But with all things happening these weeks, to watch and see how Sky smoothly and joyfully enjoying her days…it relieves my worries a bit. The big move still has to happen, when she really goes to school, in 10 days. But I believe we have set a solid base to hop on. Let’s continue from that. ๐Ÿ™‚

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one happy cat

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Lot, our cat, has never placed her feet on the grass before…till this week!
Her first owner lived in an appartment, and when she came to stay with us exactly one year ago (she was one year old at that time, now just turns two), we decided to also keep her inside. Our garden was very small and the streets around the house were too busy. Plus some bad experiences with our previous cat, who -once allowed to go outside- would fight with all neighbour’s cats, killed the birds, went into neighbour’s house and pooped in their garden…
But then we moved here in Spain. In a new house with perfect backyard (with real grass!) and extra terraces. We think: “why not?” Let’s give it a try!
So there she was, for the very first time in her life, sniffing the real fresh air and feeling the morning dew under her feet. Covered in spider web and running after butterflies. Trying to catch every insects between the grass. She danced and made air-salto’s…so happy…and when tired settled down under the palm trees.

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But, she’s only allowed to go outside under our supervision, and may not climb on/over the fence (yet). We know her well. She’s a very playful, curious and enthousiast young cat, who loves adventures and new things. And we have been living in this new house for too short of a time to be sure that she knows how to come back after a walk. Another thing: in these 3 weeks we only saw once a cat wandered on the street. Maybe we haven’t seen them yet, but for sure we won’t take the risk to be complained by our new neighbours about our cat’s behaviour!

We noticed that through the branches of this olive tree, she can easily reach the fence and jump to the other side. So it becomes a restricted area, at least for now:

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Sky “called” her to ask whether everything is okay there under the palm trees:

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Our terrace, she always walks along with us if we sit there:

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One thing less nice is, just like any other cats will do I suppose, once she tastes the outdoor life like now, she will meow everytime she thinks it’s time to play outside. And that means a lot of meowing during the day. Luckily she is a lady with quite a soft voice. Our previous cat was a big male who would growl like a bear, haha…

first weeks in Spain – our new house

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A friend of mine said: “All the ‘last-times’ in the Netherlands will soon be replaced with many ‘first-times’ in Spain.”
And how!
We are now 2 weeks and 2 days here in our new home in Spain.
Hectic weeks full of formality and official things, but also filled with lots of fun and adventures…and so many ‘first-times’!!

In short: We like it here. ๐Ÿ™‚
Sant Cugat is a beautiful city. We have (rent) a nice ground-floor appartment in a green and peaceful area. Our house has two terraces and a backyard which is in total 6 times bigger than our last home. Barcelona and the beach is only 20 minutes away and the green area “Collserola” between Barcelona and our city is only 10 minutes by car. There are plenty bike routes around the city, however till now I have only tried to bike once, because last week was really, and I mean really hot (even the locals chose to stay inside!). Biking is a challenge though, now we’re used to the flat landscape in the Netherlands. This country is hilly!

Now we have a yard, someone has to mow the lawn (but he does it with pleasure!):

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And just like many other apartment complex in Spain, there is a swimming pool behind our building. Sky would ask to go to swim every single day!

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And we take a walk around the block every day after dinner. Sky would walk or step on her scooter or bike:

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Many more stories to tell and photo’s to share…I hope I will find the time to update this blog regularly. Especially now the 115 moving-boxes are quite sorted out and many of them have found their places in and around our new house. ๐Ÿ™‚

last day in NL

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After months of sorting, packing, disassembling furnitures, labeling, more and much more sorting and packing (how much stuff can we have!! And that’s after we cut our belonging by the half, can you imagine!) …finally the movers came yesterday to empty our house. 115 boxes, 5 bikes (yes we’re Dutch, so one bike per person, plus a mountain bike and a cargo bike :)), and some furnitures went into a truck and will travel 1400 km in 6 days (it’s a combi truck, which means they will pick up other stuff also and combine them with ours. All to reduce the cost).

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So here we are today. Our last day in the Netherlands. In an almost completely empty house. We borrow 3 inflatable mattresses and some plates, glasses and cutleries from a neighbour and we’re like going camping in a house. Tomorrow we’ll fly to Spain and will spend some days in an empty house again, waiting for the truck to deliver our 115 boxes. In our new house. Nuestra nueva casa. The start of a new adventure. It feels weird, but good. ๐Ÿ™‚

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And on this very last day, we went to the funfair in the city (it’s the biggest in the country). Exactly 5 years ago we visited this city for the first time to find a rent house and we walked through the very same funfair. Destiny.

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similarity Indonesian – Spanish

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blogNow we have learned Spanish for around half a year, I realize there are some advantages I own as an Indonesian-born, compared to hubby Joop (a Dutch guy). Here are some obvious ones:

  • It seems like my tongue is able to roll the ‘rrrr’ sound much easier. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Indonesian and Spanish have the same grammar rule regarding the noun-adjective combination. So in English (or Dutch) you would say “expensive house (or duur huis)”, while Indonesian and Spanish would say the other way around: “rumah mahal” and “casa cara”.
  • Both Indonesian and Spanish are phonetic languages (some even say they are number 1 and 2 of the most phonetic languages in the world!). This means you read a word exactly like how it is written. For example the English word “love” would have been written as “laf” if it is phonetic. I notice how easy I can pronounce Spanish words, even the long and complicated one like “independientemente” (= independently). However, I remember having a trouble with this word at the beginning: “calcetines” (= socks).
  • Due to the past history between Indonesia and Spain, there are still some Spanish words that sound like Bahasa Indonesia. Far not as many as the absorbed Dutch words in Indonesian language, but still very interesting. I have collected some I learned along the way: (Spanish – Indonesian – English)

bandera – bendera – flag
bola – bola – ball
ruedas – roda – wheel
zapato – sepatu – shoe
mantequilla – mentega – butter
mesa – meja – table
jabรณn – sabun – soap
camisa/camisola – kamisol – shirt
chaqueta – jaket – jacket/coat
relojes – arloji – wristwatch
escuela – sekolah – school
gratis – gratis – free
guerrilla – gerilya – guerrilla
caldo – kaldu – broth

Next to these words there are many more predictable words which are similar between English, Spanish and Indonesian. Like ‘standard’, ‘normal’, ‘period’, ‘camera’, ‘panic’, ‘photo’, etc.

But up to now, there are 2 Spanish words which are exactly the same in Indonesian but have different meanings. “Pintar” in Spanish means “to paint”, while “pintar” in Indonesian means “clever”. And the word “pagar” in Spanish means “to pay”. But this same word in Indonesian means “the fence”. However, the Indonesian word for “to pay” is “bayar”. Somehow they sound a little bit similar, or am I now pushing it too far? ๐Ÿ˜€