When I arrived in the Netherlands, the first thing I noticed was the big front windows of each house on my street, almost at street-level, and the lack of curtains in them.
I didn't want to stare, but I couldn't help it. I could see people having their dinner, or preparing food in the kitchen, or reading a book, or watching TV. It was so amazing to me - why do these people want to be seen by everyone in the street? How could someone feel so comfortable while strangers outside (like me) can see them? Later on I stopped staring through the windows. I barely notice the habit now and I don't find it so strange. But I don't feel comfortable without curtains and I always close them, especially in the evening when the lights are on. In Bulgaria people enjoy their privacy and always have curtains or blinds or some drapery in the windows.
I've read somewhere that this is part of the Dutch culture - people are so well-behaved that they have nothing to hide. That's why they don't close the curtains - they are not afraid to show what they have or what they are doing inside their homes. Also, I've been told that the idea for the TV show 'Big brother' came from the Netherlands. Of course! Where else could it be from?
Stanislav Dimitrov, Bulgarian MSc student of Biotechnology