Notes from Nederlands: take two

written on Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013

Note: This writeup is part of a series of notes I kept on some of my journies . Inspired by many others before me, I decided to keep notes on anything I find interesting while being abroad. Please bear in mind that these notes are assorted and might lack any value whatsoever.


After seeing the nice city of Delft I also tried to take notes on my second visit to het Nederlands. I was staying in Eindhoven this time.

The sad thing is that I did not take many of them. It is not that there was not things to remember but I since I went there for (probably) the biggest robot gathering in Nederlands ever (also known as RoboCup), there simply was not enough time to capture everything.

Most of the following comes directly from my mind so it might not be accurate and as always, it might lack any value whatsoever.

My most important finding at RoboCup 2013: Dutch Queen Máxima is acutally princess Leia of our time! [1]

Public transportation

Public transportation is, as probably any service in Nederlands, on very high level. It was already obvious when I was there for the first time. It seems that you can get WiFi connection in pretty much every single bus or train. Nearly every bus station has a small screen next to it so you can very easily see when the next bus leaves.

The prices are, as you might expect, 'Dutch' (pronounced as 'higher') but given the quality of the service they do indeed make sense. I did not encounter a single bus/train with broken seats or different unpleasant equipment while using public transportation on both of my staying there.

Something like that just could not happen in Bratislava.

People

Thanks to scoreBoard (a scoring system) I was able to get in touch with many people who were helping out with the organization of RoboCup 2013. I was told that they were volunteers provided by an agency so I assume that most of them were Dutch.

If I didn't know that I would probably say that they are a mengeling [2] of many nationalities and cultures. That is probably a reflection of what Nederlands has become in the last years. I don't think there is any problem with that. It's just that you can now expect multiculturalism pretty much everywhere in Europe.

Language

As promised in another set of notes, I went for a challenge and tried to learn some Dutch in a month. I realized it was a pure stupidity and that I was doomed to fail.

But I still did it.

And guess what, it kind of payed off!

I never understood 100% but it was still a lot. Many people said that I look quite Dutch so nearly everyone spoke to me in their native language. This was totally awesome. I always tried to decipher what they were trying to say and if my brain failed I'd tell them to repeat it in English. A great way of learning a language.

But the best was still yet to come.

At the end of the competition, on the day of the finals bot the Junior and the Major venue were quite crowded. I mean really crowded. As crowded as real soccer fields are on derby matches. And boy, there were derby matches going on!

At 1400 the Junior Finals were already over. There were Middle size league finals between Team United from Nederlands and The Water from China scheduled on 1500. I have been a big fun of Tech United since I first saw them in Graz in 2009 and I really wanted to see them playing the finals this year.

But as I already said the venue was really crowded and they no longer let people sit on tribunes. There was a live stream in the entrance but that had like 5 seconds delay and that was way too much for me. So with nothing to lose and an organizers wristband on my hand I went through and they did let me in. Surprised and confused at the same time I quickly tried to find a place to sit. Out of nowhere a young lady approached me. Wearing the same wristband as me, she told me in the next five seconds something from which my brain only grasped 'links', 'mensen' and 'austublief'. Quickly recalling that the first word means left, the other people and please I guessed that she wanted me to point people to the left if someone lets them in since there still were some unoccupied spaces.

So I did that and simultaneously stayed in disbelief for a while.

Then my brain just chickened out. What if someone asks me something in Dutch and I will not be able to answer?

It took my brain a while to calculate all the possible outcomes and reach an agreement with my consciousness. After all they both agreed that since I did not have clear view on the field it was not worth it.

And so I left. Still in disbelief.

After not even a full month of learning with knowing less then 500 words I understood some Dutch. And was able to just go on with it.

If that doesn't explain why you should learn languages then here is the simple truth: nothing will.

And this whole note was just a textbook example of waste of time.

Please don't let it end up like that.

Off topic: Hungary

For reasons difficult to explain my journey home took me to Budapest from where I took the train to Bratislava.

I was in Budapest before and had some kind of an image of it in mind but what I saw just changed the status of my mind to 'mind-blown'.

Let me start from the beginning. In order to get home by train you first need to somehow get to the train station. If there was not for this answer I would probably never catch my train (even though I had more than 3 hours to do that since I landed). There is simply no way how to find this information on the internet, unless you speak Hungarian (which itself is extremely challenging). Even when I found it I could not believe that there is no direct connection from the Airport to the train station.

So later on you somehow find out where the bus 200E stops and where to buy tickets. While standing next to the ticket machine you get approached numerous times by taxi drives who will offer you to drive you to the city for the public transportation prices. Then eventually you figure out that the machine just doesn't work and is only there to give those taxi drivers more time to get your money easily. Finally, you've got some tickets and get into a bus and immediately find out that there are already ticket inspection agents there.

Then you get to a metro station, swap two lines and finally reach the train station. Let me skip the description of the state of the station and the fact that there was no serious maintenance preformed on it in last 50 years or so. Let me also skip the fact that it would make more sense to pay for my ticket in Euros than in Forints. Let me rather tell you about a great gyros I had for a reasonable price and a safe and calm journey home afterwards.

Epilogue

From my point of view RoboCup 2013 has been a great success. But it would have never been one if there was not for awesome people who organized it.

And so I would like to thank Jan Lepeltak, Xin Wang, Jan ten Bokkel and everyone else whose name I either forgot or never knew.

I would specifically like to thank the two main organizers, Martin Klomp for never turning me away no matter how crazy my request was and Peter van Lith for giving me a chance to help out with such an awesome event.

Dank je!

[1]Image credit: reddit.com/robotics
[2]Mengeling is one of the best Dutch words I was able to learn. It means some kind of a mixture.