School’s Out!

I won’t be needing that piece of crap school bag any more…

Since returning to Holland in early July, on several occaions I have noticed something odd – a bag inexplicably hanging off a flagpole on any random residential street. What’s up with that?

I asked two Dutch friends for an explanation and discovered that they too once had bags hanging off their flagpoles. Apparently it’s Dutch tradition to hang your school bag on the flagpole in front of your house when you pass your high school exams. Now that you have graduated high school, you won’t be needing that much-worn school bag anymore (presumably you’ve been using the same old one for the past four to six years that you’ve been studying at high school, and will be getting a new one before you head off to university). So you fly it out on the flagpole to announce to your neighbours that you’ve passed your exams and celebrate the end of high school by getting rid of your old school bag. Apparently they leave them hanging for a few weeks…
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About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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