The story so far: Willem-Jan has been a student for some time and has come to a standstill in his studies. In the house he regularly locks horns with the newest resident, Filippo from Italy.
‘Can somebody pass me the apple moose, please?’ asked Filippo. Around the table everyone grinned except Willem-Jan.
‘Seriously,’ he said (in Dutch), ‘Why is it that you still can’t speak any Dutch?’
Chill out man. I can understand you guys; that must count for something.’ Unflappable, Filippo served himself a blob of apple sauce with his fries. Willem-Jan frowned.
‘It shows a lack of respect that you don’t even attempt to learn the language,’ he continued, ignoring his own plate.
Actually,’ replied Filippo, ‘I would like to learn Dutch, but people here automatically switch to English. I only hear Dutch during group work at the university and then it’s too hard to understand.’
‘But we speak Dutch at home and you don’t make the slightest attempt to speak it here either.’
‘I gave it up a long time ago, because you Dutch are so exhausting.’
‘That is bullshit, you are just lazy.’
Around the table people began to shift nervously in their seats. It was always a bad sign when Willem-Jan got red spots on his neck.
‘Maybe you are right, I also became lazy’, zei Filippo. ‘But people could really be more helpful.’ He had clearly had enough of the subject and turned away from Willem-Jan. Who pursued his point undeterred.
‘You should be grateful that you are allowed to come to the Netherlands and that there is a job waiting for you when you graduate. In Italy you could forget that.’ Before he had completed his sentence, Filippo bristled.
‘Seriously, you don’t know jack shit about problems of young Italians,’ he said. ‘Of course I am very thankful, especially to you. By failing to graduate you will leave one of these sweet Dutch jobs for me.’ There was a pained silence and Vera and Bianca rolled their eyes. Even Willem-Jan went quiet, shocked by his own aggressiveness.
‘It’s always so nice when people get the Thursday evening mood going,’ joked Bianca. When he had finished his fries, Filippo rushed off to his room to start gaming. A bit later there was a knock at the door.
‘What do you want?’ he asked when he saw it was Willem-Jan at the door.
‘I believe I was a bit harsh,’ he began hesitantly. Filippo kept quiet. ‘And um, I didn’t want you to feel unwelcome. So I’ve got something for you.’ He took a book from under his arm. ‘It’s a present. It’ll help you learn Dutch.’ Filippo’s face lit up. ‘You’re not such a bad guy.’ With some effort he read the title aloud: Jip en Janneke spelen buiten.’