Five things I miss about Australia.

1. Band-aids.

Oh! for the days when removal of a band-aid required courage, gritting of teeth and the sacrifice of arm hairs. When you could cut yourself, put on a band-aid and rest happy in the knowledge that it wasn’t coming off until the wound had healed. When you knew a super hard core fabric band-aid would not only sterilise a blister on your foot, but also function excellently as blister prevention until new shoes were broken in.

Those days are gone.

In the course of one morning of bargain hunting in shoes that never seem to break in, I went through an entire packet of expensive brand band-aids and a bunch of special fancy blister protection pads. Not one single one stayed put for more than an hour.


2. Chai tea.

Now don’t panic, I can order chai lattes at pretty much any café in The Hague. But they are made from powder. And not even powder in a tin, but powder in a sachet. The fact that chai tea is exactly that – made from tea and delicious spices – is unhappily overlooked. And as for buying a box of chai tea bags in the supermarket so I can make it exactly the way I want at home, with nobody to judge how much honey I add, forget it. Not even an option.

3. Caramel milkshakes.

Moving country is stressful. Outfitting an apartment is stressful. Trying to fool strangers at uni into believing I’m a cool, normal, totally-not-insane person that they should definitely be friends with, is stressful. Stress = milkshakes. Caramel is the only acceptable flavour of milkshake, as everyone knows. Everyone except the Dutch it seems. An entire board of available flavours and no caramel option? Disgraceful.

4. An instinctive understanding of the weather.

I used to get it. I used to be able to look at a particular cloud formation and know that within a certain number of hours a particular meteorological event would occur. I used to be able to feel the change in atmospheric pressure in the morning that would signal a thunder storm that afternoon. I used to be able to observe the behaviour of the ants or the cockatoos and know whether I should hang the washing out inside or outside. I used to know that a funny feeling combined with disturbingly green clouds meant stay indoors or have your ears hacked off by hail the size of oranges. And of course, I used to know that a hint of sunshine meant sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a constant supply of water to prevent heat stroke.

I am now Jon Snow. I know nothing.

I never know if I will need an umbrella, a coat or a giant fan to cool me down. I always get it wrong. I look at the cloudy sky and decide to take the tram instead of riding my bike, and the sun comes out for the rest of the day. I look at the beautiful sunny sky head outside for a jaunt and get frozen by biting, icy winds. I always end up running errands on rainy days, heading indoors just as a shower stops and going outside as another begins. And I keep putting off buying my raincoat and sensible shoes.

I can’t seem to get a clue.

5. My friends and family.

Well thank you, Captain Obvious.


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