The first time I entered the restroom in our office building I thought I had gone into the wrong toilet. There was a man standing at the washbasin. But it turns out the washbasins and mirrors are shared by ladies and gentlemen.
Both the ladies’ and gentlemen’s WC are in the same room, the wash basin and mirrors are shared, and the entrance door for the restroom is shared. Fortunately, there are still separate cubicles for men and women. I was wondering if maybe this was the only case, and was due to space limitation. Then I went to a lecture at the Leeuwenborch, and I suffered the same embarrassment during the break. I started to guess that maybe this is a Dutch way to save money. Later on, I went to some other public buildings and once again I found that ladies and gentlemen shared the same WC. There are signs for both genders on the door. This would never happen in China because lots of women only go to the restrooms to touch up their make-up or just neaten up their clothes. I think it is pretty awkward for women to do their make-up or straighten up their clothes when there are men around.
Nowadays, I realize the Dutch have found a very clever solution to save space and time for all concerned. In public buildings in China it frequently happens that there is a long queue outside the ladies room while the gents’ toilet is empty. If we learned the Dutch way of constructing restrooms, maybe we could solve a very practical problem.
Ye Tian, PhD student at the Laboratory of Microbiology, from China.