Dutch way of living

Dutch way of living

Quicklinks

Just like in any other country, the Dutch have their very own way of dealing with people and occasions. This might be strange at first, but once you get used to the Dutch way of living, you will quickly adapt to it. By mingling with the locals, you will easily familiarize with Dutch habits. 

Cycling

Your number one necessity in the Netherlands is a bicycle. The Netherlands is home to some of the best biking infrastructure in the world. So whenever you need to go somewhere, just hop on your bike. No need to get stuck in traffic or buy a ticket for public transportation. Just see it as an efficient way to work out.

Greetings

How do you make and keep Dutch friends? It’s all about what you say and do. New acquaintances (men, women and children) should be greeted with a handshake. Whenever you walk into a room full of strangers (a shop, a doctor’s office, etc.), greet everyone with a simple 'hello' or 'good day' (goedemiddag). When at a formal or informal meeting, keep in mind that not introducing yourself is considered to be rude.  And as for longer-term friends, a 3-point kiss - that’s cheek-to-cheek-to-cheek, is commonplace. When leaving a Dutch home, always part with a dag (day), or shout a more informal doei (bye).

Gezelligheid

If someone is asked to describe Dutch culture in just one word, there is a big chance that person will say: gezelligheid. Gezelligheid is often used to describe a social and relaxed situation. It can also indicate belonging, time spent with loved ones, catching up with an old friend or just the general togetherness that gives people a warm feeling. Gezelligheid can be seen during borrels: an informal get-together, often accompanied by drinks and bittergarnituur (fried snacks).

Birthdays

Birthdays in the office are special because co-workers will remind you to bring in your own cake (taart) or snacks. Even kids are expected to bring treats to school when it is their birthday. Dutch birthday parties at someone's home are also a unique experience. One look at the circle of chairs may make you think you’ve walked into a group therapy session but this is perfectly normal. First, tell every single individual in that circle ‘gefeliciteerd’ (congratulations). Then, take your seat and join the party.

Going Dutch

There is a reason for this English saying: the Dutch are known for being cheap. Therefore, no-one loves a bargain quite like the Dutch. Look for labels promising sale (uitverkoop); special offers (aanbieding); offer (reclame); and the most exciting of all, everything must go (alles moet weg).

Local kitchen

You either love or hate it: Dutch sandwiches (broodjes or boterhammen). A very essential part of Dutch cuisine is their sliced bread, often topped with their beloved cheese or meat.  You will not be able to miss them on a working day, as your colleagues will probably bring their own sandwiches in a lunchbox.

Then there’s the national love affair of fried food, which is enjoyed frequently and without guilt. The epicenter of Dutch fried food is the snack bar, where chips (patat or friet) with mayonnaise and a kroket (a mash-up of meat products) can be purchased. Or try any of the other deep fried delicacies such as the frikandel (a sausage made out of all kinds of meat),  kaassouflé (a deep fried cheese soufflé) and the bamischijf (a fried snack filled with noodles).

The chilly winters in the Netherlands also come with certain dishes that will make the cold a little bit more bearable. Think of hutspot (potato, carrot and onion mash usually with meat on the side), stamppot (potato mash and ingredients like kale, endive, cabbage or sauerkraut often served with a smoked sausage on the side) and snert (pea soup).

Please speak Dutch with me!

Most Dutch speak English very well. One of the consequences of having English class on all schools. This is great if you do not know how to speak Dutch yet. But if you are trying to practice your Dutch by speaking with the locals, this can be quite frustrating since the Dutch will not let you struggle by speaking in their language. Just ask them to speak Dutch with you and they will gladly do so.

Related Articles