And so it begins. Both my virgin blog experience and my life in a foreign country.
Quite a number of friends suggested (requested, demanded) that I keep a blog whilst studying in The Hague so all and sundry can keep up to date with my adventures. Well children of a lesser god, here it is. Let’s see whose patience and persistence runs out first, shall we?
A brief summary of how a vertically challenged Australian ended up living in the land of giant, possibly flying, Dutchmen.
I hereby promise to photograph any instances of flying Dutchmen.
So. Facing imminent graduation from the QLD Crematorium of Muzak, my thoughts turned to my future. And quickly turned back again, breathless and panicked. It was evident that I was ill-equipped to face life either as a professional singer, or indeed competent human being. There was only one thing for it. It was time to push my boundaries, to throw myself in the deep end, to discover exactly what I was made of. It was time to spend another few years in the sanitised bubble of a music institution.
The twist in the plot/massive spanner in the works was my determination to continue my studies overseas. Because, you know, studying with Lisa Gasteen just wasn’t good enough for me. My focus was initially on the UK, and I was accepted to study at the Royal Northern College of Music (insert self-satisfied hair flick here). I was all set to follow the well-trodden operatic path from Australia to England, exorbitant tuition fees and all.
But there was that little, slightly shrill voice in the back of my mind saying “Hey B. B! How ’bout you man up, and admit that you really want to go do early music?” The other shrill voice in my head is the “you should go to the gym” voice, but cake shuts her up. The early music voice can’t be quieted so easily.
Just for kicks, I headed on up to The Hague for some consultation lessons and meetings with the faculty members at the Royal Conservatoire. Each and every single teacher I met was welcoming, encouraging and perfectly, bluntly honest. It was brilliant. Observing a couple of student recitals and the presence of the Netherlands Dance Theatre sealed it. This is where I wanted to be.
So I duly returned a few months later, duly auditioned, and was duly accepted to study early music (phew!). And two days ago, having said all my goodbyes, I boarded a one-way flight to Amsterdam. As the plane was making its way over Darwin, one of those sunsets occurred. One of those quintessential Australian sunsets, where the sky blends seamlessly from cobalt to inky purple and the horizon looks as if it’s been set on fire. And despite never having had a strong sense of national identity, the realisation that this was the last sunset I was going to see over my home country for a long time struck hard, and I may have disturbed my fellow passengers by snuffling audibly and arranging my features into those grotesque contortions white girls seem to do when trying not to cry.
Many hours and too many plane meals later, I landed in Amsterdam. I wasn’t turned back at border security for the lack of a visa (yes, you really do ask to be allowed into the country after you’re already there), and lugged the 35kg my life has been reduced to onto a train to The Hague.
Now here I am in a hostel, all ready to lay my head down on a stupid European style pillow and succumb to jet-lag. But this one question keeps turning around and around in my head…
What the hell have I gotten myself in to?