Laura Barendregt’s European adventure

Because the Netherlands is in isolation due to the coronacrisis, I am unable to meet my ‘victims’ (as most of them call themselves) for a coffee at Banditos. Rather, I simultaneously drink coffee with them over Skype.

My next victim is originally from Australia but has Dutch roots: teaching assistant Laura Barendregt.

In the 1950s, Laura’s grandparents wanted to move away from the Netherlands and were thinking of moving to either Canada or Australia. “At some point they were at a party and met someone who had just been to Australia. They saw the pictures and noticed how sunny and warm it looked. On the spot they decided to choose Australia over Canada”, Laura explains. She laughs as she continues her story: “When they arrived at the Gold Coast, the first thought they had was: ‘oh great, it’s so warm here, we don’t have to wear any socks to bed!’”.

Similar to her grandparents, Laura wanted to go on an adventure, preferably to Europe. In her decision of where to go, she was just as rational as her grandparents: it had to be somewhere where people spoke English well, as she didn’t speak any other language than English. The choices boiled down to Scandinavia and the Netherlands. “I thought: Scandinavian weather can be very cold and the Netherlands is further south, so it must be warmer there!” Little did she know…

Looking back, part of the reason she chose Maastricht was to escape the competitive city environment of Sydney. “People from abroad always think Australia is such a paradise. But really, it isn’t. No one moves to Sydney to live a simple life. They move to Sydney to be the best in the field and you need to really put yourself out there to do that. It can just make things a little intense sometimes.”

As a theatre major, in Europe she expected to find the epitome of arts and culture, with all its history and sophisticated, well-read inhabitants. Looking back at it, Laura realises that she saw Europe, and the Netherlands in specific, as exotic and unique. While she enjoys the Limburg culture, which seems down to earth and in her opinion less competition-driven that Sydney, she also realises that not everyone here walks in clogs or eats stroopwafels like we expect their Dutch counterparts to. Moving to Maastricht has changed her perspective: The Netherlands is not a promised land and Australia is not so bad after all (it definitely is sunnier and warmer than here).

1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. I loves this series! Let’s keep on going until we have learnt a bit more about all humans at FASoS!

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