This month I celebrate that I’ve been living in The Netherlands for two years. It’s the third country I have lived in and the third one I call home. Before NL I lived in Germany, so I thought I didn’t need to integrate or learn about the culture anymore. I genuinely thought that Dutchies are similar to my last homies, the Germans. These two years have totally shown me the opposite. With you, today, I want to share the things Dutch people do that I haven’t seen people doing in any other place I’ve lived before. Get ready!
1. Three kisses
Dutch people greet with three kisses. I had to get used to that. But it get’s even more confusing when after you gain some trust with the person you greet, three kisses will eventually turn into one. This makes you feel totally weird because you finally got used to the three kisses. I know my in-laws for seven years now, and it still doesn’t get less awkward.
2. Congratulations to everyone!
When someone of your family or friends celebrates his birthday, not only the birthday person gets congratulated, all the family members as well! Please note that only the birthday person will get a present and not you.. 🙂
Instead of just calling it a sandwich, in NL there is one right word to name the piece of bread you eat during breakfast or lunch.. ‘Boterham’! The Dutchies take the word very serious because they spread butter on the boterham before any other spread comes over it. So here is how it goes: Bread + butter + Nutella. Or, bread + butter + jam. Or, bread + butter + peanut butter, bread + butter + hagelslag… You get the point?
4. Werkse, sterkte, sportse!
Dutch people are very kind. So kind that they have a word to wish you a good day at work: werkse! A good day at the gym: sportse! A good day when you are feeling sad or sick: sterkte.
5. The cheaper, the better
If you ever give a nice compliment about a piece of clothing or accessory to a Dutch person, they don´t only thank you for that. As well they will answer you with pride that they bought it on sale for 70% less of the price. Oh! how they love to show you they made a cheap deal..!
Gijs, Thijs, Tijn, Matthijs, Stijn, Marijn, Merijn, Martijn, Tijmen, Jasmijn, Gert, Meike, Verlee, Kaj, Joost, Koen… Odds are that if you don´t speak Dutch, you are pronouncing them all wrong! Dutch parents like to give their kid names that are very hard to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers. On top of that, some kids have two names. A real name and a ‘roep’name”. Example: His real name is Gerrit but the name of how to call him is Gert… Say Whut!?
7. The weather
It is very common to see these highlights in the news: ‘today is the coldest/warmest day ever since… last month?’, “Today a heavy storm is coming to the coast, code red everyone! The storm will last two minutes. Better be safe!” Everyone in The Netherlands loves the news about the weather. Better yet, they all know everything about it, thanks to the app: Buienradar. On this app, they can see the exact time it will rain and for how long. Can you imagine how I feel, when at 11 am the sun is shining, and then I hear my Dutch colleagues telling me “Oh but today there’s going to be a storm around 8 pm”. I think Dutch people secretly love the rain.
8. Biking to anywhere. Regardless the weather.
There is nothing that can stop Dutchies biking to work or school. Rain, snow, ice… Dutchies are unstoppable. My first surprise ever was back in 2013 when I did an internship in a design office in Amsterdam. It was the first rainy day since I started and while I was looking through the window, wondering if I should wait until the rain stops or go walking to work with an umbrella, the outside life looked as normal as ever. People wear their Hema rain suits, hop on the bike and off they go. Some even biked with an umbrella! I did go walking to work that day and when I arrived all my colleagues were soaking wet, hair all messy, jeans wet. But that´s not a reason to stop working. Just hang your wet jacket, shake your hair and the day can begin.
Oh, and the Dutchies are so handy with their bikes. Don´t be shocked to see how they bring their three kids to school on a bike, with the dog on the leash and while biking they are putting on their jackets! In the mean time, it still takes me five minutes to lock and unlock my bike.