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Cultures are an interesting and important factor when we travel. Whether you want it or not – you will meet the culture of your destination. Today I’m talking about the Dutch culture and everything you need to know about the Dutch culture before visiting the Netherlands or Holland like some people call it.
People have their thoughts about the Dutch culture. There are many prejudices about our culture and I thought it might be fun to discuss them in this blogpost so you know what to expect when you visit. It feels a little funny to write this blogpost as a Dutch native because all these things are obviously so normal to me. So it’s nice to put myself in a different perspective and explain the things that might not be as normal for you as a tourist!
I did a bit of research while writing this blogpost to actually read the preconceptions about our culture because honestly, I don’t hear them a lot. Probably because people don’t want me to feel insulted. A few of the ones I read are: Dutch people are greedy, Dutch people walk on wooden shoes (lol), Dutch people are very direct, Dutch people speak multiple languages, we can’t live without their bike, we love cheese and all the Dutchies are tall.
7 Things You Need To Know About The Dutch Culture
There are many more prejudices but I will discuss the ones mentioned above ’cause I read them the most. So let’s see if they’re true and what you need to know about the Dutch culture. I loved reading all those misconceptions so I will do another full on blogpost about it in the future. Save this post for later if you don’t have the time to read it now!
We are very direct
Yes, we are very direct compared to other cultures. We say it as it is and are considered blunt and no-nonsense people. We are direct to be very honest but I can totally imagine that it can feel like a shock for tourists or non-Dutch people. However, I feel like we’re not all that direct in the current days. Personally speaking, I’m not that direct myself. I always nuance my opinion and I am not blunt at all in speaking out because I try to be as nice as possible and not make anyone feel offended or in shock. But yes, it is something to keep in mind if you visit the Netherlands.
Read more. I’m sure you have experienced the culture shock before. Read my blogpost about how to deal with different cultures to know how to deal with it!
We are not that greedy
I honestly hate that this is quite true. If you say “Go Dutch” it means you’re paying for the date or whatever you just did, like going to lunch with a friend. I don’t know where this comes from but it is so normal here to always split the check or to always give someone their money back.
However, I feel like this is made much bigger than it is. Some people assume we want our 20 eurocents back or our 2 euros. That’s not the case at all, generally speaking of course. Especially if you’re with friends, we often buy each other coffee without asking the money back. And especially when we’re with friends or people from abroad, we act a lot different. Don’t expect me to send you message asking me my 20 eurocents back, don’t worry at all!
And as an addition, we often make a little agreement on how we want to pay beforehand so it’s never unexpected when someone asked some money back. I feel like it’s nice to always discuss this so no one feels obligated to pay or get their money back.
We don’t wear wooden shoes
Guys. Did you all really think this was true? I certainly hope you didn’t, especially if you have visited our country before! This one made me laugh. We do have wooden shoes in the Netherlands, especially in the tourists shops but guys, we don’t wear them. I have never owned a pair of wooden shoes.
If you go to the absolute countryside, the extreme country side, you might find the elderly wearing wooden shoes. I have seen a few people in my old village walking in wooden shoes and this was a village next to the big city Rotterdam.
So yes, it is a culture thing. And we love them but no, we don’t wear them. I prefer my loafers or heeled ankle boots! Can you imagine what Amsterdam would look and sound like if everyone wore wooden shoes?
Read more. Are you travelling to Bali in the future? Read these Bali etiquettes to follow during your trip.
We speak multiple languages
This is true. Dutch is not a language that’s being spoken by lots of people. Belgium and some other parts of the world that used to belong to the Netherlands years and years ago speak Dutch too.
In middle school and high school we already learn to speak English and it’s a mandatory language all through middle school, high school and college/university as well. So in general, our English is very good. In addition, we sometimes had to choose another foreign language such as German or French.
I’ve had 6 years of French in total! So I speak English and French but to be honest, I understand French and can read it pretty well but I got confused with all the grammar at some point so speaking and writing is a true challenge. I am planning on taking French lessons because I want to speak it fluently! Especially because I want to move to France in the future.
We can’t live without our bike
I can almost promise you, you won’t find a Dutch person who doesn’t own a bike. In fact, the Netherlands has more bikes than habitants. We are a country with around 17 million people and we have 23 million bikes. So this is kinda true, we need our bike.
Especially if we live in a city, it’s much faster to get around on a bike than to drive a car. The infrastructure in the Netherlands is very nice and every village and city has these red roads where you can safely drive your bike. Yes, that small red road next to the pavement is dedicated to the bikers. Do not walk on these or you may get hit by a bike. Just a warning.
The Netherlands is the perfect place to ride a bike and we all love it. I must say, I love my little red car a lot too and only really grab my bike when it’s sunny, dry and not that windy outside. If you know the weather in the Netherlands, you know I might not get on my bike as much as you thought before you just read this.
Not everyone loves cheese
Cheese is a big thing in the Netherlands but certainly not all people love cheese. It is our specialty and Dutch cheese might be one of the best ones in the world, but obviously that’s not an objective opinion. I never really loved cheese but also don’t hate it.
I eat it on my bread sometimes or when I make a grilled cheese sandwich but I, and most of us Dutchies, don’t munch down on cheese the entire day. It is one of our little snacks when we have a birthday celebration for example and yes, we do sit in a little circle on birthdays and do not ask me why. I just don’t know why we do this. We sometimes make a big circle with chairs so we can all talk to each other. Not always though, it depends on your family and friend group. Small addition I wanted to add.
So yes, we love cheese and we make a lot of cheese. Definitely something to try if you visit the Netherlands and if you’re not vegan.
Read more. Another post related to Bali – read this before travelling to Bali to know what not to do in Bali to make sure you won’t offend anyone!
Not everyone in the Netherlands is tall
We are considered to be one of the tallest people in the world but that doesn’t mean everyone is tall. We have short people too! A research suggests that the men in the Netherlands are the tallest in the world. This might be true though but I’m not sure, I do know our guys here are very tall.
The average male height is 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) and the average female height is 167.5 cm (5 ft 6 in). If you were wondering – I’m about 170 cm so 5 feet and 7 inches which would be above average!
As I said, I want to do a full on blogpost about all the misconception about the Netherlands like if we all smoke weed, if Holland is the same as the Netherlands, if all Dutch people go crazy during sports events, every Dutchie has been to the red light district and so much more. This blogpost would be thousands of words long if I included them all in here. I’ll save those for another time!
Have you ever been to the Netherlands?