When moving to a different country, you probably want to embrace and learn more about the new culture. It can really help you get acclimated. This section provides some basic but useful information about Dutch culture to help you on your way.
Let’s start with some Dutch habits.
1. In the Netherlands, it is considered quite normal for Dutch people to greet each other with three kisses on the cheek. It’s just a friendly way of saying hello to friends or family. However, when meeting a person for the first time or someone you are not really close to, it is common to shake hands.
2. The Dutch are pretty well organised. Almost every ‘appointment’, including having dinner with friends or events, will be noted in a diary. Furthermore, most Dutch people are never late. So, make sure you arrive on time.
3. When thinking about the Netherlands, you probably think about bicycles. The Netherlands has more bikes than people! So, why not buy a bicycle and live like a local? It’s a cheap and fun way to get about and a bike is always easy to park.
4. You have probably heard: Dutch people can be quite straightforward. If a Dutchie doesn’t like something, they will tell you. To many expats, this give-it-to you-straight mentality can come across as inconsiderate, perhaps even rude. But people are just trying to be transparent and clear. In fact, directness and transparency are much valued in the Netherlands.
5. Bread is the number one food in the Netherlands. You will find that the Dutch eat it for breakfast, lunch and sometimes even for dinner. A lot of people also prepare a sandwich at home to take it with them to work to eat during the day.
6. Dutch people love anything that is gratis (free). We love a good bargain, so look out for the words uitverkoop, actie and reclame (all mean sale).
Get to know your neighbourhood
Starting with social life, one important aspect of creating your home is getting in contact with your neighbours. You probably have already found out that privacy is quite a big thing in the Netherlands. Therefore, what is the best way to say hello?
Most of the Dutch, if they move to a new neighbourhood, introduce themselves by knocking on the door of their directs neighbours and invite them for a coffee. Sometimes the coffee may wait for months (sometimes even never), but it can also be a spontaneous get together.
What about making friends?
One thing to keep in mind is that is takes time to make friends with the Dutch. If you realise after all your efforts that you still don’t have a big crowd of Dutch friends, it is not you, but rather the privacy focused and busy Dutch mindset. You might have better chances if you register with a sports club. The Dutch like sports and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that Dutch soccer teams call the moment of socialising after the match ‘the third half’? Sports can be about being healthy, but also about sharing a drink. And the Dutch like to drink!
Another possibility is to post a message in the international Facebook group for Utrecht Region called Expats Utrecht. You will be surprised how many people would love to go out of a drink, movie or walk.