It’s not you, it’s me… I just need some space.

I often complain about the Dutch lack of kinaesthetic awareness. I think that in two and a half years in the Netherlands, I’ve been bumped into by more strangers than during all the other years of my life combined. I accept that sometimes this happens because the top of my head sits so far below the standard Dutch eye level. But mostly I think it’s a matter of personal space.

Australia has a population of 23 million. The Netherlands has a population of about 17 million. However, Australia is about 205 times larger than the Netherlands, which means I require about 160 times more personal space than the average Dutch person.

Australia vs. Europe

You would think that with a large population in such a tiny area the Dutch would be more, not less considerate of getting in other people’s way. But having spent the Christmas break (plus a bit more) in Australia and being instantly overwhelmed by the crush of people upon my return to Den Haag, it has been illustrated time and again that this is not the case.

I’ve identified four public spaces that are favourite congregation points for Dutchies:

1. At the end of an escalator. Because it’s inefficient to move to the side to figure out which direction to take, in case you end up on the wrong side. Much better to deliberate exactly in front of the escalator.

2. In the middle of a flight of stairs. A perfect place to catch up on some gossip, make Saturday night plans, or ponder the meaning of life.

3. In the crossroads of busy pedestrian corridors. With relentless tides of foot traffic coming from every direction, the best approach is to plant yourself like a rock in the middle of all oncoming traffic in order to consult Google Maps.

4. Immediately inside or outside a doorway. It would appear the Dutch value the ambiance of a shop as much as the products they sell, as they prefer to step just inside a shop in order to decide whether they actually want to peruse the merchandise. And if they do perchance make a purchase, they will hover immediately outside for a few minutes, just to be conveniently close in case they end up with buyer’s remorse.

I often end up startled and alarmed whilst out and about in the Netherlands as people encroach upon my personal space . To those Dutchies that I jump away from with a look of horror and disgust, it’s nothing personal. I just need my space.

Space that happens to be the exact same height, depth and breadth as you.

Operation Evacuation

So the last five months have succeeded in breaking me. Have succeeded in tearing me down, leaving behind a shell of a person standing in the rubble of my former personality. All too often, I feel that the part of me that was happy, playful, attractive and fun to be around has died and is rotting away inside me, poisoning me from the inside out. I used to be funny. Now I’m just glum.

Who knew a broken heart could hurt so much?

Continue reading

Calling all psychopaths…

If there is anything I have learnt from the horror film genre, it is that the concurrence of a certain number of creepy circumstances will inevitably lead to a gruesome demise.

For instance, if it is a bitingly cold day with miserable rain and an ominous grey sky, and one is walking alone amongst warehouses in the middle of nowhere in a small European country where they speak a strange language, there is a 100% certainty that an axe murderer/possessed twelve year old twins are going to drag you into an abandoned warehouse, from whence you shall never leave and your screams will echo unheard through eternity.

Continue reading

Wishful thinking

I’m going to admit it: I suck at shopping.

As a girl, I realise that this is an activity I am supposed to have a natural affinity for, and that being a female human sans shopping stamina is a bit like being a panther without claws or like a dolphin that can’t swim. Unless my shopping trip involves chocolate or books, my enthusiasm levels match that of Marvin the Paranoid Android, and I’m about as fun to be around.

Marvin

Continue reading

B’s Helpful Guide to Moving to the Netherlands.

Oh, if only I knew then the things I know now. If I could go back three months and re-move to The Hague, the things I would do differently! Actually, let’s go back five months and start the process again. I would change about 87% of what I did in preparation and once I got here.

But sadly, not matter how many episodes of Dr Who I watch, I still haven’t managed to master the art of time travel. So I shall simply content myself with passing on my infinite wisdom to any lesser mortals who choose to follow in my footsteps. So here it is:

Continue reading