Life in Holland

Photo of a Dutch tulip-field.The Netherlands is a country well known to people worldwide, not only because of its beautiful tulips or because of the “Orange Football Club”. Many international students have experienced that the Netherlands is also a reliable address for students worldwide, due to its high quality of education. Every year there are thousands students from all over the world coming to study in the Netherlands.

Multi-cultural and tolerant

It is always an emotional moment for most of students when they have to say goodbye to this country and its people after their study. In the eyes of those students the Netherlands is a country with a multi-national culture and they have experience that the tolerance of the Dutch is still the main key for all foreigners who would like to explore this small country. Throughout the centuries because of their tolerance the Dutch have benefited from the arrival of foreigners coming from all over the world, enriching Dutch culture. This explains that in the city of Amsterdam, people of whom 45% are of non-Dutch origin are living peacefully together.

International atmosphere

The Dutch are very internationalized, even as regards their food, and this especially holds good for the younger generation. In Holland you can find different kinds of international food from the Italian, Greek to the African or Thai cuisine. Some of the international food has become very popular in the Netherlands, such as Turkish shoarma, Vietnamese spring roll or Beijing duck. When going out to a restaurant with the Dutch we have to keep in mind that the Dutch are very pragmatic. Don’t be surprised if somebody asks you to go out for a meal and you have to pay for it yourself. This habit is known as “going Dutch”.

Distant but very kind

Dutch people are very friendly and tolerant, however they often keep their distance from strangers, keep to themselves. They do not immediately come to talk to you as a stranger. Once you already in the conversation with the Dutch, they are very friendly and helpful.

Time as a fixed moment

Time is not a fluid concept for the Dutch, but rather something fixed. Therefore being on time is very important for them. When you have an appointment, please remember to be on time. If for any reasons you cannot be on time for the appointment, you have to inform them in advance. Making an appointment before meeting somebody is almost compulsory, otherwise you will waste your time by getting the answer that they cannot see you because they don’t have an appointment with you. Instead of getting upset or angry if you cannot make an appointment at short notice, you should realize that the Dutch often make plans months in advance. Moreover many Dutch people work part-time so they may not be in or difficult to find if you do not have an appointment with them.

Family

Family is very important for the Dutch. After working hours Dutch people often go directly home to their families. In general, the Dutch are not used to taking their work home. Home is only for their own families. If you want to talk about work, appointments should be made during the working hours and at the office. When they are home, they do not want to be disturbed by the office work. On the whole Dutch people are not used to inviting strangers to their homes. If you are invited to visit a Dutch family, it is really special.

Liberal attitudes

Dutch people often live together before getting married or they even live as partners outside marriage. Homo and lesbian couples are officially recognized in the Netherlands. They also have the right to marry and adopt children.

Classroom relationships

Students are stimulated to be active in class; they are free, to pose questions and enter into an argument with the teacher. Both teachers and students are very casually dressed at lectures or classes. In the summer you often see students or even teachers wearing shorts at school. Don’t be surprised about seeing teachers sitting on the desk while giving their lectures.

Dutch frankness

In general Dutch people are friendly but at the same time they can be very straightforward and frank, some people would say blunt. Sometimes you might feel that they make you lose face, which is a taboo in Asia. Please remember that it is not done on purpose to hurt people but it is rather a form of honesty and truthfulness.