|Steve Edwards' website|
I learned Dutch about two weeks before I left Holland in January of 2005.
That's an exaggeration, of course, and abstract. A language is "niet iets wat je van de ene op de andere dag leert." Nobody learns a language in a fortnight.
But as abstractions go, this one is not far wrong.
By December 2004, I was beginning to spend very little time with the woman for whom I'd gone to NL my only real social contact.
I didn't have any plan for moving onward; and I didn't consider Kilkenny Ireland an option mostly because I'd fallen out of touch with my friends there since visiting 8 or 9 months earlier. Around Christmastime, a friend called me and said I should move back to Kilkenny. But in mid-December, I was alone and needed to learn to speak Dutch if I were to stay in The Netherlands.
You can get by with only English. You can speak, and the Dutch can speak with you. But you cannot fully participate.
I started to insist on speaking Dutch. At first in the shops; later at work I even tried to insist upon the Dutch language with Kim, but she refused. This was due in part to the fact that she's a woman, but it's not an atypical response to the use of basic Dutch.
Anyhow, I discovered when I visited the Netherlands a couple of years later that I had indeed learned how to undertand and speak the language.