Final thoughts on Schoorl/First Impressions of Mennorode
Food and Eating: I'm beginning to think that the reason they never really drink at meals is because there is either soup to get your fluids from or because they get it during their coffee breaks. Although for my final lunch there they had more stuff set out than usual, and that was also the day with the most workers from what I could tell (so perhaps the weekend workers just aren't big on drinking at meal times). One weird habit I have noticed and started to adopt is that they cut their bread and eat it with a fork and knife... Like just a piece of bread with nothing but jam on it will be cut into smaller pieces and eaten with a fork. We were told it's because it's more "handy" but when you really think about it, wouldn't the handier thing be to eat it with your hands... just a thought. Another thing I've noticed about bread (while I'm on the subject) is they don't really layer at all. They take several pieces of bread and each will have it's own topping, but they don't combine toppings. One of the workers was actually talking about how they have had past trainees from Canada who have mixed peanut butter and jelly and how they just though that to be the most bizarre thing. Then when I put sprinkles on my Nutella she shouted something along the lines of "see,that's what I was talking about, the trainee's have their own weird recipes" in dutch (which I still need to learn, that one was explained to me after the laughter died down).
I also need to learn dutch because kids here don't speak English yet (or at least the ones attempting to talk to me didn't) and I've always loved talking to kids. On my first day at Schoorl (I forgot to mention this last time, but you're getting it now so no harm done) I was greeted by two dutch kids who couldn't have been older than 3 and 5 with berries in their hands chattering dutch at me. I just stood there petrified trying to figure out if they were offering me some or if they were passing on the lesson they had learned from their parents that morning (as I saw a mother holding one of the nuts or berries in her hand and telling the child something. So they could have been saying anything from "here, try one. They're delicious" to "You shouldn't eat these, mom says the foxes pee on them when they're too close to the ground" (which is a tidbit of information I got from our guide Eric later on that day).
On my last full day in Schoorl I took a bike ride into town with the other trainee'sand climbed the big sand hill in the middle of the town. I took way more effort to climb that thing that I had imagined. The sand there is sooo loose, my calves had quite the work out that day. We the proceeded to wander around the forested area at the top and eventually wound up at the bottom again... Had I known that at the beginning I would have suggested doing it in the reverse as running down hills is always funner than walking up them.
Before we left the town I picked up a Rubik's Cube just to help me feel a little bit more at home. That night a gentlemen who used to be quite involved in the Intermenno program gave us a lesson on the cultural norms we should be aware of and tried to prepare us for our year in Holland.
This afternoon we drove out to Mennorode and while I've only been here a few hours I can already notice a massive difference. Mennorode is almost a resort, it is so nice. If I were making a comparison from back home, the place in Schoorl would be like Elim before it got it's new cabins (and maybe even now with them as Schoorl had one new building with geothermal, which they seemed to be quite excited about), and Mennorode would be like an upscale hotel designed for large groups of people in a forest setting with the odd lodge/cabin similar to what you might find at a ski resort (plus there's a campground that I haven't seen yet)... It's hard to describe and given I've only been here a few hours it's entirely possible I've gotten the wrong vibe from this place. I'll take some pictures tomorrow and you can be the judge. But one thing I have noticed is that they definitely have something to drink with their meals and I am quite pleased about that. However, other than meeting a few people and having dinner I have not done much here... So we will still have to see precisely what Mennorode has in store for me.