News - October 12, 2017

Tall people, small stairs and sinks

Before coming to the Netherlands, I read that the tallest people in Europe live in this country. And for me, the Dutch are indeed extremely tall. What surprises me however is that despite their big feet and hands, they have such steep stairs with shallow steps – and such tiny sinks in the toilets.

Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek

I was very curious about the tall Dutch people since I am rather short at only 1.53 metres. And indeed, as soon as I arrived at the airport I saw a lot of tall people. When I settled into my student housing, I found it was not at all shorty-friendly. For instance, I could not see myself properly in the mirror in the toilet. I could only see part of the top of my hair if I stood on tiptoe. In the kitchen, I struggled to reach some of the shelves and the electric oven, which was located on top of a fridge. Sometimes I asked my Dutch roommates to help me get stuff from the top shelves, or I would simply stand on a chair and do it myself.

With their big feet and hands, why do the Dutch have such steep stairs and tiny sinks?

But what I find hardest to understand is why the Dutch have such steep stairs that do not have room for a whole foot. They are tall, they have big feet. It’s hard enough for my tiny feet to fit on those stairs. I cannot imagine how they manage. And then those tiny sinks in the toilets! Why? Their hands are larger too. In my country, people are not as tall as here, but not even Dutch people will have any trouble climbing our stairs. They will also feel very comfortable using our big sinks. Well anyway, I have enjoyed meeting people who are taller than me in this country so much that I ended up marrying a tall man.

Nadia Ordóñez Román, PhD student of Phytopathology at Wageningen Plant Research, from Ecuador

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