World Cup Fever

Hup Holland Hup [Day 154/365]
The World Cup starts this Friday! The Netherlands is slowly turning orange as everyone starts decorating for the festivities. Shops, cafés, houses … Everyone is getting into the spirit and showing their orange. This is one of the window displays at a café on Voorstraat. It’s the same place that had the cute bunny display at Easter. I’ve yet to go inside the café, but I always enjoy their window displays.

I have a handful of countries I cheer for at the World Cup, with varying degrees of success. I can’t help but cheer for the US, of course, but I never expect them to do particularly well. Still, they’ve improved over the years, so hopefully they’ll have a decent showing this year. Because of family, I also cheer for England/Scotland (on the rare occasion Scotland makes it to the WC). I’ve been a fan of Italy for a while now, even before meeting my boyfriend. I started cheering for them in the ’94 WC (poor Baggio!). Italy is the current reigning WC champion, but I don’t see them doing well this year at all. Lippi has made some lousy choices. Fortunately, Holland has a good team this year, at least in theory. They’ve got some excellent players like Robben (please let the hamstring injury not be an issue!), Sneijder, and Van Persie, just to name a few. I’d love to see Holland go far in the tournament, even better if they finally win!

It was quite the party here two years ago for the European Cup, so I can only imagine what it will be like for the World Cup! I can’t wait! Hup Holland Hup!
Waiting for the World Cup

Olympic Inburgering

The 2010 edition of the Winter Olympics is now finished. What on earth will we watch in the evenings? I’ve seen more ski jumping and cross-country skating that I ever have before. Watching the Eurosport channel’s coverage of the Olympics is much different from watching the NBC coverage in the US. You get to see whole competitions instead of just a few bits and pieces. On the other hand, sometimes you end up missing whole sports. One thing that they didn’t seem to focus on quite as much was speed skating. You have to understand that for the Dutch, not focusing on speed skating is like not focusing on hockey in Canada. Skating is huge here!

Even if you’re not Dutch, you probably heard about poor Sven Kramer’s disaster in one of the races when his coach pointed him into the wrong lane. Poor Sven! A nation was heart-broken! Even I felt bad for the guy. And yes, I did know who he was before the Olympics. That’s how famous he is here. I like to think of that as another step in my unofficial inburgering (integration).

Friday night, at the Potdeksel, the tv came on for the speed skating and snowboarding events in which the Dutch were taking place. Everyone stopped to watch. Nicolien Sauerbreij won gold in the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom, giving the Dutch their 100th winter Olympic medal! Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for the men’s team pursuit skating event. Worst of all, it came down to the Netherlands vs USA to see who would go to the finals. I was actually cheering for the Dutch team against the US team, even though it was the US team that eventually won the challenge. Surely, I must truly be integrating.

To be honest, I found myself somewhat removed from cheering for the US athletes in general. To be fair, that was the only time I was cheering against them, and there were plenty of times I wanted them to win. But I just didn’t feel a strong connection this time around. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the coverage I was watching was fairly neutral and not the big USA love-fest that I grew up watching. Perhaps it’s also because I’m trying to make my home here now. I’m not saying that we’ll never move back to the States, but it’s also not something that we’re honestly planning for the future, either.

Do I feel guilty for not feeling more patriotic? A bit. Mainly, I prefer to be multi-patriotic.