The English Language On Word Order Depends

Live to Write - Write to Live

I-need-you-I-miss-you-I-love-you-3-love-10112773-1024-768While I’m hiking The Long Trail, I’m reposting old favorites. This one originally published October 22, 2013.

The English language on word order depends.

If that sentence doesn’t convince you, try this:

Take the adverb “only” and place it in different positions in the following sentence.

He said, “I love you.” (Nice thought.)

Only he said, “I love you.” (No one else said it.)

He only said, “I love you.” (He said nothing else.)

He said, “Only I love you.” (No one else does.)

He said, “I love only you.” (He doesn’t love any one else.)

He said, “I love you only.” (His love is exclusive.)

In The Elements of Style, Strunk and White advise that “Modifiers should come, if possible, next to the word they modify.” When modifiers are misplaced, the result is always  ambiguity – and often hilarity as well. Consider this Classified Ad:…

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The Netherlands is actually how I imagined it after all.

So I have now been in the Netherlands for 15 weeks and counting, so naturally I have had the opportunity to explore what the country has to offer. It has also made me think about Nijmegen as a representation of a ‘Dutch City’, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s not your average Joe (so the Americans say). 


I started to think about this when I traveled to Leiden at the weekend to see one of my friends from my university in SheffieldI felt like I had lost the excitement I had for living in the Netherlands- however it only took one trip to get rid of this feeling. I was taken away with how beautiful Leiden was- this may be because the sun decided to show its face at last! Nevertheless, it was characterised by many typical Dutch traits, which one often associates with a city in the Netherlands. Take, for example, the horizon long view of the cannel, which stretches across streets and streets. You see this when you go to Amsterdam, or Utrecht– but in Nijmegen this doesn’t exist in the same way. This is also the image which every tourist coming to the Netherlands for a holiday has. Leiden itself is in close proximity to Amsterdam, and Den Haag is only about 15 minutes away by the train. I really liked Den Haag– being the main city for Business and Government matters; you truly felt that you were in a city like London or Berlin. The shopping, a top priority of mine, was perfect in terms of a Dutch perspective- since nothing could every compare to my beloved UK high street.  Therefore, if you get bored in Leiden, the other big cities are very close- by. This fact made me a little bit jealous to be honest. den haag  den haag2

Comparing this to Nijmegen, I personally don’t think it reflects the true ‘Dutchness’ of the country. As a location it’s great if you want to be close to Germany seeing as its very close to the border. However, although the transport links are second to none, it is still the other end of the country to the bigger and more ‘bustling’ cities such as Amsterdam and Den Haag. This does not mean that I don’t like being in Nijmegen, it is just something I have noticed since being here. It is only natural to compare each city your visit to the one which you live in. I think Nijmegen is great as a student city, seeing as the university here is meant to be one of the best in the country and in Europe. Plus, you are surrounded by other students which is always a good thing! Also, there are also many international students at the university which means I don’t ever feel out of place.  So I guess you could say I have a love- hate relationship with Nijmegen!

This leads me on to 10 things which I have learnt about my time in the Netherlands so far:

  1. If you see a cash point, even if you don’t need money, I would advise you to withdraw some. This is because trying to find a cash point in the Netherlands, well in Nijmegen, is like trying to find a needle in a hay-stack.
  2. Make sure you have enough food in the house for Sunday, because if you have a hangover- there is no possibility to buy anything to cure it, unless you wait until 4pm.
  3. The Netherlands fails to understand that you might want only one potato, not 30.
  4. The cashiers scan the food items faster than your eyes can blink; leaving you wishing you had some kind of super power to pack your bags.
  5. They do not  see the importance of Starbucks.
  6. Some Dutch manners are definitely borderline illegal in the UK.
  7. The Dutch do not know how to place a light in the middle of the room- well this is the case in my student complex, and makes me feel like I am living in the dark ages as soon as it gets dark.
  8. The public in the Netherlands like to stare a lot when you compare it to other countries. For example, the moment I stepped in to Germany I felt like I was invisible- (I’m not being paranoid, other people have noticed this too.)
  9. Dutch people also find it hard how to say my name correctly (curse of the Irish spelling continues to haunt me).
  10.  Last but not least, is to make sure you persist in your attempt to speak Dutch. It may be frustrating at times- but you really have to go the extra mile if you want to speak it!

I think that is it for this week. I have another fun weekend planned, involving a trip to Den Bosch with one of my Dutch class friends, and may even go out on Saturday. I haven’t properly been out for a while- so it’s on the cards 🙂  it is also only a week and a half until my weekend in Belgium!

This leads on to one final note, and that is: make the most of travelling and exploring other places whilst you are abroad. For me it has been the most valuable part of being in another country and has made it possible to be able to explore the culture. Before I know it the YA will all be over and I will be back home doing all the serious final year stuff! But it’s not over just yet and there are plenty more fun and no doubt stressful things to come.


Pass me a crumpet please!

ImageHoi my dear readers, a little update on my Year Abroad , in case you want to know how I am getting on! Once again the last two weeks have been very up and down. For me I can have really good days and then suddenly it all comes crashing down, no middle ground! Nobody said living abroad was easy but I am getting much better at dealing with these Year Abroad situations by remembering the well known saying:  ‘it’s much better to laugh rather than to cry’- it actually works!

Anyway, the week before last was definitely one of my most favourite weeks of the year abroad so far. I think that’s because I went and explored some more,and got to see some familiar faces from back home. I think this is what the Year Abroad should be about- although we are meant to be here to study, we really need to make the most of the opportunity to see other cities and countries! On the Wednesday I finally went back to Amsterdam- it’s so strange that I haven’t really been there as much as I thought I would, and it’s so easy to get there too.  I went there to meet up with some friends coming from the UK, who came over for the Ajax vs Celtic game in the Champions League. I’ll say it was definitely a new experience for me, I literally thought I had been somehow transported to Scotland- soo many Celtic fans!  We walked through the streets of Amsterdam- took a quick wonder down to the Red Light district as you do there,  and went to a few pubs before the game started. Typical of the Netherlands, it rained most of the night (why is the UK known for its rain?)…. And the rest of the night was filled with lots of alcohol and yesss….

So on the Thursday Morning I woke up feeling not too fresh, it was good that we had breakfast included- that was definitely needed! SO after that we left for the train station and before I knew it I was on my way back to Nijmegen. I really wasn’t looking forward to having to go to my evening class, but I thought I better keep up appearances and at least be there in person- if not in mind! I had Friday to semi- recover before Germany, with only one class at uni.

This leads me on to my visit to Bonn. I had been looking forward to this ever since I booked my train ticket weeks ago. Finally I could see two of my good friends from Sheffield, I seriously can’t believe that the last time I saw them was June- how did that even happen?! I got on the train at 8:00 AM in Nijmegen- I certainly wasn’t looking forward to my changes. Knowing my luck I would miss the change over’s or end up in some unknown place. However, it all went smoothly, with a stop in Venlo and Dusseldorf on the way.  I arrived in Bonn about 11 and was greeted with a massive hug by Maisie at the Platform. She took me to a Coffee shop, I mean café, where Jack was. So I walk into the café and Jack is soo excited to see me that he nearly knocks himself out on the lampshade and I almost trip over the chair- however we both recovered well and I don’t think anybody noticed this! We had a well needed catch up about our year abroads and chatted for a while, like we had never been apart! After a while we went back to Maisie’s place, it was nice to meet some of her flatmates who were also from the UK on their Year Abroads. And … was very strange how one of the girls actually went to my secondary school before she moved to Scotland, and is also friends with some of my friends from back home- small world.  We had a nice dinner before our night out in Bonn- which was very enjoyable!

We all woke up pretty early on the Sunday morning, not feeling too bad actually and headed towards town and the train station! I had arranged to meet an old friend, who I went to sixthform with and she now lives in Cologne- not too far from Bonn! After a little catch up, I made my Imagejourney back to Nijmegen via Cologne and that was that! That week has made me want to go to another places, so I have organised a weekend in Belgium (I have never been there before), we are staying in both Brussels and Antwerp! Also, this weekend I shall be going to visit another Uni friend who is teaching in Leiden so  I have plenty to look forward to 🙂

As far as University is concerned, I don’t really have much to say to be honest. It’s also been good and bad. The good thing is that I have picked another module ‘City culture’ – which is far more interesting than Dutch Literature, and also  had the chance to meet some more Dutch students, which is  perfect for my Dutch 🙂 However the midterm exam results were pretty mixed, and all I can say is I hope I scrap through the last two months. Going to a different university makes me realise how much I enjoy being at Sheffield. But I know being here is a great experience and I will realise that when I have finished here. Plus. I have had the chance to meet some great people!

I have also started to miss all things British this week (its heading towards 4 months its only natural!) , for example Crumpets, Starbucks in walking distance, the UK Highstreet.. well the list goes on.  I think being abroad makes you appreciate your own country so much more and  you see all the good things rather than the bad things. So I think people should stop moaning about the UK, because it is actually pretty great, and I’m looking forward to raiding M&S, feasting on Yorkshires and buying out Top-shop when I return back to the homeland in a month’s time!

That was the latest episode, until next time!


Martini, Marple, Barbour jackets & Blood


Well this week marked the end of the exams at last.  It was such a relief to have them out the way until December. It feels so good to finally have done the first set of exams and now I know for next time how it all works.  I managed to nearly live in the library for the last few days, but considering I had my friends company, a better computer and access to cheap coffee I don’t see that as such a bad thing!! But enough boring stuff, and more exciting stuff (I hope!)

Last Friday I had a great time with my Swedish friend Johanna, I finally found another person here who shares my love for Agatha Christie. So last Friday we spent the evening relaxing with a bottle of Martini and some good food in front of Miss Marple! (so wild I know :p), and of course finished the night with some tea and Jam on toast- think my attempt of turning my friend British is working, I’m mean she already loves Barbour just as much as I do! Talking of Barbour actually, I had a mad moment and went a bought another. It is actually meant to be here today, so hopefully itImage will have arrived by the end of the day 🙂 I justified this well by the fact that the jacket will last my whole lifetime, and if you weigh that up against buying a cheaper coat each year then it is a very very sensible decision.  Also, the weather is starting to turn now and it is getting much colder- this is another reason why I have made a great investment.

Anyway, so I finished exams on Wednesday and thought I’d let of some steam in the gym as I haven’t been so much this week. That evening my friend Reema cooked us a lovely curry 🙂 It was nice to meet some of her housemates and she also had a friend from home come and visit. I don’t think I have laughed that much in such a long time, it was a great evening!

Yesterday was of course Halloween and my friend Lucy had organised this nine hole drinking game where we had to go round each other’s corridors and do shots at each. Some of them were vile ha! I wouldn’t like to know what was in them to be honest.  My so-called Halloween costume was pathetic, I just added some blood and a plaster to my face and that was that! Though, I had people asking me Imagewhen we went out ‘oh did you know you have cut your face?’, and I could not tell if they were being serious or not- we are in the Netherlands, so you never know :p ha

I’m majorly excited about next week as I have a few trips on the cards! Although classes start again at uni, I am going to Amsterdam on Wednesday evening to meet up with some friends coming from the UK. They are coming over as it’s the Ajax vs Celtic game, so I may have to pretend I am a Celtic fan for the evening! Also, next weekend I am heading off to Deutschland to visit two of my favourite people Maisie and Jack in Bonn. Maisie is studying there so we thought it would be a great idea to go and stay with her. I think we are planning to have a night out in Cologne which should be super fun and no doubt it will involve ending up at a Karaoke bar! Ahh too exciteddd!

But I’ll leave you now  to look at some pictures, and think it’s time for me to take a nap- such a hard life!

see yaa next time!

Sian  xxxImage

A mixed week!

Really gone and surprised myself by writing another blog, only after a week since the last one!  But I think procrastination has been the major driving force behind this one :p

So what has happened this week? Well it’s been slightly mixed for many reasons. The weekend started off well with the visits of two Sheffield girls to Nijmegen, it was nice to see some familiar faces and have a good catch up with them. We took them to the ‘so-called’ ERASMUS white party- but I was slightly disappointed by the lack of white clothing, pretty sure I was the most white-dressed there! However, it was a nice change to take the bus to town rather than cycling  and by the end of the night I think I appreciated that decision with the fact that we made the most of the 2 for 1 drinks :p ( yes I don’t think it would have been a safe option to cycle back). And we won’t talk about how I felt the next day either!

SO moving on, the beginning of the working week began yet again with some revision. I had one exam this week which was for my Dutch Culture module. The exam was also very mixed, I was unsure about the set up of the whole thing as it was my first exam here. I was kind of annoyed at the questions because they missed out one of the topics and put in a question about something which was covered in the intro lecture. Nobody thought that would be the case. So pretty sure that question went terribly bad- but hey its only one question and I guess and there isn’t a lot I can do about it really! I still have two more exams next week- one of which I may as well not turn up to. This is my Dutch literature module which I have to write all in Dutch and about their literature (stating the obvious I know!!). But I am stressing out way too much as I know its way above my  level and I can’t face going into an exam which I have no clue about- this has never happened. But there is a first time for everything and I will have to face the music I guess. The other exam should be fine as it is a translation exam from Dutch to English where we get access to online dictionaries and all that! And considering I am a native English speaker I am hoping I can pass this one 🙂

But moving on to something more important, which has made me put all my so-called ‘problems’ in perspective was finding out some very sad news. On Tuesday we received an email from our head of department informing us that one of our course mates had suddenly passed away. Naturally I was in shock because he was in nearly all of my classes last year and someone that I saw on a daily basis- it really brings home how precious life is!  I would like to send my best wishes to his family- I can’t imagine how they must be feeling right now. It really puts everything into perspective and makes you realise that shouldn’t complain about the small and pathetic things because they aren’t, in the scheme of things, actually a problem at all.

Next time: I will let you know how the exams went, the end of exam partying (Halloween next week) and also how the progress of my 2-pac is coming along! Hoping I can keep my motivation for the gym going, I went so much last week but haven’t so much this week, and  I bailed out today: p But me and my friend are trying to motivate each other- sooo much easier to go with someone!

Until then nighhhttttttt xxxx Image

It’s not all plain sailing.


I guess it’s that time again to do another post, I think it’s been a good month since my last! Time flies and I really can’t believe how quick it’s gone, it’s crazy. I was yet to start university before my last blog, so I shall tell you all about how that went, and also a few other things which I have been up too.

Well if I told you settling into University life was easy, than I would be lying. I knew it would be hard but I honestly found it a struggle to begin with, and it’s only now I am starting to get used to how things work out here. For example, my Dutch literature module was very interesting to say the least. I knew that it would be hard considering the lectures and seminars would be in Dutch, and although I understand and speak Dutch, analysing literature in Dutch would require a lot more work!  This was made a lot more comical by the fact that one of the Dutch lectures for the module could not have had a stronger Dutch accent even if he tried. I remember talking to him after one of the lectures because I found it hard to follow him, however the conversation seemed to turn into talking about Sheffield and colleagues he knew there. Therefore the thought of doing this module seemed way out of my reach. So I have completed half of the course, but still feel like it is way out of my depth.  However, I will see what happens after the mid-term exams and if I can change it or do another course I may consider that. At the end of the day if I don’t pass the literature course, it will still be beneficial to my Dutch and my knowledge of their literature- I guess I need to try and stay positive. A lot easier said than done though!

But I do warn UK students coming to study in the Netherlands that the set up is completely different to what we are used to. I think I took it for granted how well informed I was at Sheffield. For example, we are not told anything about our mid-term exams unless we make the effort to find out. This was made worse by the fact that the mid-term exams cover everything we have studied, whereas in Sheffield it is normal that we pick a certain amount of topics to revise. If I had not found this out then it would have caused problems for next week’s exams. Therefore, I do encourage students to make sure that they make the effort to find out information for themselves, as I wish I had been aware of this more.  Another thing which is hard to deal with is the way in which Dutch lecturers deal with feedback. In the UK, well in my experience, it is not really acceptable to discuss work in front of the whole class unless it is positive. However I have witnessed students, who have had to deal with the awkward situation of being made an example in front of the class.  I am pretty sure that this is typically ‘Dutch’ however it would not be easy for a British person to deal with for the first time!!

I am enjoying most of my other courses and learning more about my own language in my modules ‘English as A world language’ and also in my translation and writing classes. It’s weird how many things I do not know about English grammar and having a non-native speaker teach you this makes for some interesting disagreements! Though it is nice that I am valued as a living English dictionary- I have a use I guess!

I am trying to explore as much as I can, although it’s extremely hard when you are busy all the time! But I have been to Arnhem three times as it is so close to Nijmegen- only 10 mins by the trein 🙂  I found the shops were much better there, I mean they have a Zara and that’s when you know it’s going to be good. I went to Utrecht with a friend this weekend and also have Rotterdam on the agenda as they have a Primark there! I didn’t think I would miss it but my bank account seems to! Some of us also want to have a weekend in Amsterdam and this is a must-do before I leave in January.

It’s been nice to get to know a few Dutch students in my classes, although I am still struggling with the fact that everyone wants to speak English when all I want to do is practice my Dutch. But I know I must keep trying! However, one of my Dutch classmates has helped me out a lot and she makes sure that she speaks to me in Dutch. Also she gave me mean girls (The Dutch edition of course! ) and a copy of Vogue Nederland. This is a great way of just surrounding myself with the Dutch language in a more ‘fun’ way.

Oh and my mum came to visit me two weekends ago which was nice, I showed her how well I know the city now and took her to good old Arnhem! It was so lovely to stay in a hotel which was nice and quiet. I also can’t believe how happy I was to have a bath- I certainly made the most of it. Enough to keep me going until Christmas I guess! Also made the most of the BBC coverage, so I of course tuned into Match of the Day  🙂 A kettle for my room was also the highlight of the weekend, being able to make some tea without leaving my room is perfect!

My week this week started off fabulously with receiving my Erasmus grant. I know I have to pay my accommodation and book some flights, but I thought it would be rude not to treat myself. So I went a bit mad (a lot ) on the make up front! But you only live once is always my justification for buying things and it seems to work….I mean I don’t feel guilty. I bought the Chanel powder and  a lipstick! So if you want to know if they are any good.. I can help with that :p

That was it. Sorry for the boring post! I promise the next one will be better written-just thought I’d let you know how I am getting on 🙂

Bikes, Bikes and more bikes!

Here I am sitting in my student room in Hoogeveldt reflecting on my crazy 2 weeks (well it seems a lot longer than that!) here in the Netherlands. I’d like to begin by saying that I am very much enjoying being here and I have meet some great people so far, which is always a good thing. I think the hardest part was the first night here, just after my family had left me. This was mainly because I had not yet met anyone and didn’t even have an internet connection to speak to people back home. But over the course of orientation that was soon gone and every day I’m starting to feel more and more at home. My room here is also looking a bit more gezellig than when I first moved in…it was extremely depressing at first.  However, I bought some flowers and have put a few things up so make it feel more like home so it can only get better!

Right, so let me tell you some of the things that have happened since my arrival in Nijmegen. The first Monday saw the start of the orientation week here at the university. Here we had the opportunity to meet our lovely mentors and mentor group. It was great to meet so many people who came from all over the place; it’s something that I have never really done before. So, after all of us had been introduced we headed to town in search of a bicycle which is something that would be hard to live without here now!  I was successful in finding a bike, but I’m still searching for a name for it… so any suggestions are greatly welcomed. Of course being British the whole daily cycling culture was completely alien to me.  I just found it weird how it seems as though every single person in Nijmegen rides a bike and how bike riders are so tolerated on the roads. Back home I think I have more chance of seeing Cheryl Cole than someone riding a bicycle. This may explain why I thought some of the houses were bike shops, when they were actually just houses with bikes parked outside of them!

With our mentor group we did various wonderful activities from visiting the major and the Valkhof museum to sports day… oh and the partying. And this was the perfect way to bond with our group and also get to know the other international students. The whole beer culture is still something that I will need to get accustomed to. This was clearly highlighted when I asked for a vodka and lemonade which apparently doesn’t exist in the Netherlands!

Another thing I love about Nijmegen is there are some great places to chill and enjoy lunch which I have been doing a lot since I have been here.  My lovely Swedish friend Johanna and I been trying to do as many as possible to see what ones are the best. Moving on to the Dutch cuisine I think it’s safe to say I have had a done it a slight justice. I mean I’ve already tried bitterballen (not quite sure what this is I have to say!), Ontbijtkoek and stroopwafels. But any person would probably agree with me when I say the best by far are the stroopwafels, in fact I am eating them right now as I talk to you, and I think they will take up most of my luggage when I fly back home too!

Of course I’m here to improve my Dutch, and as I was aware I knew speaking Dutch would be very hard. Of course as a native English speaker I was ignorant to the fact that most people HAVE to learn another language, which is English to come here.  It is therefore extremely hard to speak the language all the time, but I have been trying as much as possible to speak the language and it’s a lot easier when I am in public. For example I was in H&M queuing for the changing rooms and I was talking to a lady about how we liked each other’s clothes (simple things!).  But hopefully when we start uni next week the opportunity for this will improve and I’ll get to meet even more Dutch students. As far as my uni courses go I have chosen:

Dutch Culture from the Golden Age until the Present Day

Advanced Academic Writing

English as a World Language

Grammar and Translation

Deutsche Sprachpraxis, which focuses on German reading, speaking and writing skills. Although, this one will be especially hard as it is taught in Dutch and German.

Dutch Literature 3. This one focuses on modern Dutch and Flemish literature

So we will see how they go when we start next week, I know that it will be hard to get back to the studying mode after a break. But it will be nice to get some routine back and I have also joined the sports centre so will fit that in into my schedule too.  The facilities here are great and it only costs 14.50 Euros a month to join the sports centre which is so much cheaper than back home.

On one last note it would be uncharacteristic not to mention the weather here in Nijmegen, and it has been quite hot and sunny on most days. This, of course,  I did not expect when coming here so my choice of clothes has been a bit limited, definitely one of the hardest things to deal with since being here (I’m only joking) . But I promise you it gets better in the winter!

That was my short summary so far, until next time when I hopefully have something more interesting to say!