Life in Holland as an International Student - Boat Trip to Leiden

Life in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a country well known to people from all over the world, and not just because of our beautiful tulips or national football team.

The Netherlands is renowned for its high quality of education. For that reason every year, thousands of students from all over the world  flock to the Netherlands for their studies.

Many international students have already enjoyed the  multi-national culture and tolerance of the Dutch, which is one of the main reasons for people to visit this small country.

Throughout the centuries, the Dutch have benefited from the arrival of immigrants, coming from all over the world and enriching Dutch culture. This is visible in the city of Amsterdam, where people, of whom more than 50% are of non-Dutch origin, are living together peacefully.

Study in the Netherlands - A Multicultural Experience

The Dutch are very internationally oriented. As a result, you can find many different types of cuisine in the Netherlands, from Italian and Greek, to African or Thai. Some of these international foods have become immensely popular in the Netherlands, such as Turkish shoarma or Vietnamese spring rolls.

When going out to a restaurant with the Dutch, you should keep in mind that us  ‘Dutchies’ are very pragmatic. So don’t be surprised if you are asked to go out for a meal, but everyone is expected to pay for themselves. This habit is very common and is known, even internationally, as “going Dutch”.

Studying in the Netherlands - An International Atmosphere

Dutch people are very friendly and tolerant; however, they tend to keep to themselves initially, and often keep their distance from strangers. If they do not know you yet, they won’t immediately come over to talk to you. However, once you have started a conversation and they get to know you, they are very friendly and helpful.

Time is not a fluid concept for the Dutch, but rather something fixed. Therefore, being on time is very important to them.

When you have an appointment, please remember to be on time. If for any reason you cannot make it on time, you have to inform them, preferably in advance. ‘Dutchies’ also prefer that you arrange to meet them in advance, or else you might be turned away.  Or, if you decide to spontaneously drop by, the Dutch person might be too polite to say, but could see this as being rude. You should also remember that many Dutch people work part-time, so you might find an empty office if you don’t make an appointment.

These are some things to keep in mind when trying to meet up with Dutch people. And don’t get upset if you can’t get an appointment at short notice, some Dutch often plan months ahead!

Life in Holland - Study in the Netherlands

Family is very important to the Dutch. That’s why they often go straight home to their families after work.

In general, the Dutch are not used to taking their work home. Home is reserved for family, and when off the clock, they do not want to be disturbed by work. So if you want to talk about work, appointments should be made during office hours.

On the whole, Dutch people are not used to inviting strangers into their homes. So if you are invited to visit a Dutch family, see this as a compliment!

Dutch culture is very open and tolerant. For example, it is very normal for Dutch couples to live together before getting married, or even to just live as partners and never get married. Moreover, gay and lesbian couples are officially recognised and have the right to marry and adopt children.

Students are stimulated to be active in class - they are free, or even encouraged, to pose questions and to start a discussion with the teacher. Both teachers and students dress  very casually . In the summer, you often see students or even teachers wearing shorts at school. Don’t be surprised to see teachers sitting on the desk whilst giving their lectures either.

In general, Dutch people are friendly, but at the same time they can be very straightforward and frank, some people would even say blunt. This could give some people the feeling of losing face, which is especially the case for Asian cultures. Please remember that it is not done on purpose or to hurt people, but it is rather a form of honesty and truthfulness, which is very strongly rooted in Dutch culture.

What It's Like to Study in the Netherlands as an International student