Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elephant Parade

Right now in Amsterdam there is a parade going on. An elephant parade.
Spread out over the city are over a 100 elephants, decorated by varying artists and celeberities. They are to raise money for Elephant Family, the largest Elephant charity in the world. They are a nice addition to the character of the city.

Click on the title of this entery if you want to learn more about the elephant parade or donate to the cause.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My bedding

It took me a while to get my housing situation organized here in Amsterdam. De Key is the organization that international students get their housing from. When you are at De Key paying your rent and signing your lease they offer you some bedding for and additional 30 euros. I have to say I got suckered in because I was exhausted from trying to find a place and De Key dicking me around that I agreed to the 30 euro bedding. It all came in a small carrying box. That should have been a sign that it wouldn't be good.It is literally the cheapest bedding you can buy from IKEA. I spent 30 euros and when I got my IKEA catalogue I found my bedding in the catalogue for 6 euros.
I'm mostly over bitching about the bedding. Occasionally I feel the need to vent over the fact that I paid 6 times what I should have. So, here are some photos of my bedding and how I received it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

As I laid on a bridge over prisengracht with my bike laying on top of me I realized something: I might not be able to bike as well I think I can. Especially after half a bottle of Bacardi Limon.
I had reached the point where I had no choice but to fall to the ground with my bike or run the bike into a canal. I feel I made the wise choice-as wise as you can make in that predicament.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Studying or being a Tourist

I find it a little hard to get motivated to study here in Amsterdam. For my undergraduate degree I went to Michigan State University. While the campus is absolutely beautiful and the student body is an exciting and interesting group of people, it isn't exactly a tourist hot spot. Touristy things that can be done there are going to the Cheese Store, seeing a sporting event- if you can get tickets, and... well everyone over 21 should go to Crunchy's once.
Amsterdam on the other hand has tourist attractions out the wa-zoo. The museums, concerts, boat rides around the canals, theater, markets and so on; all saying, "Come on Carol. Go for a walk. Read this. Look at that. Smell that... Oh,no smelling that was a bad decision." All of this makes thinking about studying a little difficult. Sometimes I can combine my tourist in me with the student in me, like on a sunny day doing my reading in museumplein and go to plays as research for school. Sometimes, though the need to be a tourist in the city I live in overwhelms me and I need to go exploring. Yesterday I tagged along with couple other Student-Americans as we went to Vondelpark, the House of Bols, checked out the I AMsterdam sign, and ate and drank in museumplein. It was a really nice and lovely day, but now I need to get to studying to make up for my time as a tourist.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dutch Logic

Over time the Brits have come up with many terms using the word 'Dutch'. Often it is used in terms playing on negative stereotypes of the Dutch people.
Such phrases as:
Going Dutch or Dutch Treat- each person participating in an activity pays for himself or herself. So, gals it a guy asks you if you want a Dutch Treat sweetly decline.
Dutch Uncle- a person who issues frank, harsh, and severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage, or admonish someone.
Dutch Wife- a prostitute, Sex Doll, Water Bottle... more or less a substitute for a real wife in bed.
Dutch Courage- courage that is gained from drinking alcohol. I recently helped a girl I know get some Dutch Courage to jump the European Boy she is seeing(read: because he is European he is waiting for her to make the first move) by taking 5 jager shots on the street in about 8 minutes.
Dutch Oven- a pot you cook with that has a cover on top of it. A Dutch Oven can also be when someone farts and than traps someone else under the covers creating an enclosed stinky-ass area. It's truly one of the classiest things you can do to a loved one.
Out of all of these phrases I find Dutch Uncle to be the most telling and true for the Dutch people. People are always giving me really harsh advice here in order to help me. Glad I was an athlete most of my life so it doesn't phase me... too much.
While all of these phrases are great I would like to propose one more 'Dutch' word to be added to the list:
Dutch Logic- the complete lack of logic in any traditional or contemporary sense of the word.
I have come up with this term after three weeks of trying to get my excessive amounts of paper work that I need to live and study here in Amsterdam.
The latest predicament Dutch Logic has trapped me in is the need for health insurance. I am fine with getting Health Insurance here, it's actually affordable, the only problem is Dutch Logic. I need to get a residence permit to legally live, study, and work here. I need health insurance to get my residence permit. However, when I went to apply for health insurance it said I needed my residence permit to get health insurance... wait what?
I need a residence permit to get health insurance and I need health insurance to get my residence permit.
There is Dutch Logic for ya.
I have one more word Dutch Work Ethic but that'll have to be saved for another time. The Dutch with their 30 hour work weeks and the amazing ability to pass the blame onto just about anyone else sending me to 40 different places to get one simple thing done. Again, for another time. Ik wil een biertje.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hurt Feelings

I was being very middle school today and had hurt feelings because I felt left out of the cool group in the theatre dept. I came home put on flight of the conchords and this song came up and it mademe laugh so hard and get over my hurt feelings :)

across the way

I have the habit of making uncomfortbaly long eye contact with people I shouldn't be making eye contact with, and than not looking people I should in the eye. I haven't had to walk past prostitutes too often- just on Wednesdays after class. I did however make the mistake of making eye contact with one gal who was trying to get a guy to come into her kamer. She than proceed to try and chat me up. I snapped out of my creepy eye contact and kept trudging along.
Well, last night I realized the woman sitting right across the way from me on the tram was the same prostitute I had made that unfortunate eye contact with. I knew it was her yet I again stared inappropriately till she looked up and we made eye contact AGAIN! That is when I really decided to focus on the beautiful city going past me.
For a major city Amsterdam is not that big. I re-run into people all the time, but I hadn't fully thought it out that I would be recognizing prostitutes on the tram. You never know who you are sitting next to. That's what makes living in the city so damn fun.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My City Amsterdam

They showed us this video at my orientation for University of Amsterdam. You could spot ever American in the crowd as we all slowly slid down in our seats, popped up our collars, and combed our hair over our eyes as we glared at the floor. Bill O'Reilly is an idiot. Don't believe the false hype about this city.