Coming to the Netherlands can be a cultural shock. As every country, also the Dutch have their (strange) habits. This may cause quite some surprises, some pleasant and some less pleasant, or even frustrating. Let us help you with some basic navigation through the Dutch culture.
Let’s start with some Dutch habits:
1. When Dutch people meet (especially long-term friends, family and of course on birthdays), they commonly give a 3-point-kiss (3 kisses on the cheeks).
2. The Dutch are very organised, every ‘appointment’, this also counts for events and meetings, with be well noted in their agenda’s. Most Dutch agenda’s are booked up weeks in advance. Furthermore, the Dutch are never late for an appointment. So make sure you arrive on time!
3. When you think about the Dutch, you think about bikes. The Netherlands has more bikes than people! So buy a bike and live like a local. Plus, using a bike is cheap, easy to park and fun!
4. The Dutch are very straightforward. If a Dutchie doesn’t like something, they will tell you directly. This might seem rude to you, but they do not try to be rude rather transparent and clear. So we advise: do the same! But don’t be too blunt, the Dutch are also fond of respect.
5. Bread is #1 type of food which you will find in all Dutch households. We eat it at breakfast, lunch and somethings even for dinner. A lot of people also prepare their sandwich at home, to take it with them to work to eat during the day.
6. ‘gratis’ (free) is the most favourite word of the Dutch. We love a good bargain, so look out for the words ‘uitverkoop’, ‘actie’, or ‘reclame’ (all mean sales).
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.