What a ride. I think I can honestly say that I have felt almost the entire spectrum of human emotions in just a week.
It turns out I misjudged how long I would have to wait in airports, making my trip a total of 36 hours. As you can imagine, sitting down to even eat a meal made me wonder whether I’d spontaneously combust. But alas, I am here and settled in to my little apartment. I was lucky in picking my accommodation because I am right next to the market square where the beautiful town hall of Maastricht is located.
Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics had their introductory days on Thursday and Friday last week. Not only was it valuable to find your way around campus and meet some fellow students, but the introduction to the Dutch lifestyle really helped to provide an insight in to some interesting observations I have made.
1. There are so many people out and about at all hours of the day. Do these people have jobs?
Answer: Turns out the Dutch aren’t lazy. According to one of the doctors from the university, the Dutch just value their leisure time.
2. Maastricht has more bicycles than people, but why aren’t they riding fancy bikes?
Answer: The Dutch love sturdy, old bikes. The older your bike is and still functioning relatively well, the better your bike is perceived to be. If only we had a similar mindset in Australia, then I’d be very popular with my car.
3. There seems to be no clearly visible authoritative figure, what the?
Answer: Don’t get me wrong, there are many police visible on the streets, but the Dutch are very strong in their belief of everybody being equal – there is no clear class differentiation and no boasting of political power. This belief seems to work because everyone is respectful and conscientious of one another.
These observations I found very interesting and sometimes uncomfortable. I will report in once I kick off my classes this week under the “Problem Based Learning” system, where the students take control whilst the tutor merely guides the class. It should be… interesting.