One of the spoiling things about living for two years where you don't fluently speak the local language, is that the range of external communication you can safely ignore expands dramatically. In fact, my brain's ability to filter irrelevant conversations happening around me has substantially atrophied. Walking around Toronto, now, I'm having to re-learn to ignore people who aren't actually talking to me.
Most people I encountered in the Netherlands spoke English, and most of them spoke it well, much better than I spoke their language. But there are also cultural differences. I found a sign like this posted in our new apartment building here in Toronto:
In our continuing efforts to maintain the cleanliness of the building we are pleased to inform you that we have retained the services of a professional window cleaner to wash the windows of the building.
This work is scheduled between June 15, 2009 till June 19, 2009 from 9am to 5pm, weather permitting. Please ensure that all the blinds and curtains are closed. The work will start from the 10th floor and continue down to the lower floors.
If this sign had been posted in the Netherlands, I believe it would say something like this:
Someone comes this week to clean the windows.