I had my first Dutch class this morning. It was taught by this goliath of a man named Dr. Gerdi Loockermans who is obviously Dutch himself. He hails from the city of Utrecht and came to New York to study at Columbia. If I had to guess, I would say his is in his late forties. He is a quiet man with an extremely deep voice and I couldn’t help but feel that he was staring down each of his students throughout the session. It was as if he was trying to find something in us. His eyes are very large and dark; a rich brown. Perhaps he was trying to intimidate us with the staring or perhaps he can’t help it. I will admit it was unsettling to say the least.
He didn’t start speaking in Dutch right away. His English is impeccable with very little trace of his native accent. But when he began to introduce the language the tenor of his voice completely changed. The pronunciations are so alien to me. The vowel combinations will be hard to master and there are words you have to literally change the shape of tongue to say things correctly. I’ve heard that this is also the case with German so perhaps Dutch will be a good precursor to my German studies. It seems that the Dutch sentence structure is virtually the same as English so, just paging through the two slim volumes required for the course, it seems that it’s all a matter of vocabulary and declension.
My roommate Dottie Cento, who is also here on full scholarship and who has left her family in Brooklyn to live “up city” as she calls it seems to be very friendly, and quite a free spirit. We have been here barely three days and she’s gone out each night. She hasn’t said what she’s done but she does reek of liquor when she comes in. It doesn’t bother me, although I don’t fancy myself a drinker, I knew I would come in contact with it here at school. Even though it is illegal, I’ve heard the stories of the countless speakeasies here in the city. Sometimes I wonder if I’d have the courage to go to one.