Whether you’ve just moved to the Netherlands or you’ve been living here for some time, making a local friend isn’t always easy. But het komt wel goed (it will be alright), here are some tips and tricks to make it easier to socialise with Dutchies and break into their circle.
1. Step out of the international bubble
If you’re planning to stay in the Netherlands long term, it’s worth the effort to step out of the international comfort zone and invest in local friendships.
Talk to your Dutch classmates and colleagues, and attend Dutch events. Welcome them into your bubble, and they might let you into theirs — or heck, you might create a whole new bubble of your own!
2. Join Dutch social clubs
Looking for something to do on a weekly basis? While it may be tempting to join solely international social clubs, try to opt for one that is more local.
3. Embrace Dutch directness
Have you ever met a local who says something that sounds like an insult? Dutch bluntness can throw you off.
But that’s just Dutch people being, well, Dutch. If you can’t beat them, join them! Ask how their divorce is going, tell them their hair looks weird today — get direct, then at least you’re on the same level.
And hey, they might even decide that this international noob is worth being friends with.
4. Learn some Nederlands
There is nothing worse than when you’re with a group of Dutch people, and you can’t join the conversation due to the language barrier.
READ MORE | The top 16 free ways to learn Dutch
You don’t have to become fluent in Dutch (it’s a hard language to master, we know), but just understanding the basics can get you far. By simply saying hoi or hoe gaat het (how are you), you’re proving to the Dutch that you’re trying — and you want to be friends.
5. Know the Dutch rules of body contact
Dutch people are known to be inviting and open-minded — but showing affection? Not so much. The first rule of body contact: do not hug.
Be mindful of this guideline. While hugging is a nice way to be greeted by someone, you might lose some bonus points if you hug your potential Dutch friend.
Instead, either ask them if you can hug them or go for the common, less intense three-kiss policy to avoid any disaster. 😚
6. Invite your Dutch friend for a coffee
Have you made acquaintances with a Dutch person and want to get to know each other better? Go to a café together for some lekker koffie! ☕
After all, Dutchies love their coffee. According to recent statistics from the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the Dutch are among the world’s 20 biggest coffee drinkers, ranking in 5th place, and drinking up to four cups of coffee per day.
A warm cappuccino? That’s sure to draw a Dutchie or two in.
7. Become the ultimate planner
Forget being spontaneous and meeting a Dutch friend last minute or arriving at a friend’s house unannounced.
The Dutch value their spare time and like to create a well-structured and balanced life, which means checking their agenda before they confirm meeting up.
Time to join in with this Dutch custom and whip out a planner of your own, trust us, they’ll appreciate it. 📔
*Making plans with friends*— Kevin Miao (@KJHMiao) November 26, 2022
My Dutch Friends: “Earliest I am available should be 1/15/2038 from 6 to 7:15 because my sister’s aunt’s neighbor invited me over from 7:30 onwards”
My American Friends: “How about in 10 minutes?”#dutch #american #culture #international
8. Be open-minded — the Dutch love to debate!
One of the biggest turn-offs for a Dutch person? Having a small and narrow mind. The Dutch love to debate and are always up for a good discussion, from politics to the news.
The Dutch believe in expressing your own opinion as long as you’re respectful of theirs. So, don’t be afraid to join in these debates and make some enemies — which can turn into friends as a result.
9. Join a sports club
The Netherlands has about 25,000 sports clubs spread across the country, ranging from yoga to running, cycling, fitness, and even fierljeppen.
Joining a sport is a great way to meet some Dutchies and put your Nederlands to practice. There’s no better way to forge some strong friendships than by sharing some blood, sweat, passion, and tears.
10. Be shameless and just start talking!
At the end of the day, you’re just going to have to be confident and strike up a conversation with a Dutchie — in Dutch. Oee echt eng!
The more you practice, the less scary it will be. Talk to people around you: your local barista, your neighbour, that person you regularly see at the gym.
Don’t know what to talk about? Maybe just complain about the weather; it’s always a popular topic of conversation.
11. Attend those borrels after work
One of the best opportunities to make a Dutch friend is by attending the after-work borrels, also known as vrijmibo (Friday afternoon drinks.)
Those borrel evenings with colleagues are very important when it comes to getting to know and forging friendships with your co-workers.
So, make the effort and get to know your colleagues in a non-working environment. Less stress, more drinks, more friends. 🍻
12. Be positive about their country
Nobody likes it when a foreigner says negative things about the country they’re living in, and the Dutch are no exception.
Instead of going, “you know what the Netherlands could improve on?” or “I hate the way…” try communicating what you like about living here (hint: great social benefits, advanced healthcare, vibrant nightlife, mouthwatering restaurants).
Flattery is certainly an easy way to friendship.
13. Ask a Dutchie to come over to your place
What better way to get to know your new Dutch friend than in the cosiness of your own home? Invite them over for an afternoon tea or a home-cooked meal. If the Dutch love anything, it’s being gezellig. 🏡
By showing the Dutch your warm hospitality and the willingness to make an effort, how could they not want to be your friend? You know you’ve made it when they invite you over to their place in return!
14. Approach them — don’t expect them to reach out first
Don’t wait around until you’re approached by a Dutchie, or else you’ll be waiting for a long time. The Dutch are not known to be conversation-starters. Instead, don’t be afraid to make the first move!
Found someone that you want to get to know better? Don’t implement the three-day rule (that’s sooo 2000s). Text them and ask if they would be free to meet up for a drink or lunch!
The worst thing that can happen is they simply don’t reply, or they decline — you have nothing to lose here.
15. Join a taal café
Want to practice Dutch and meet a friend as a result? Try joining a taal café (language café). Important to keep in mind: you need to have a language level of at least A1.
A language café is not like actual Dutch lessons. Instead, you simply talk to each other in Dutch while sipping a cup of coffee or tea. ☕ Check out Meetup or libraries in your area to sign up!
16. Pay for the next round
When Dutch people are together in a group, it’s normal to take turns paying for the next round of drinks. Just because you’re an international doesn’t mean that you don’t have to tag along in this custom. 😉
Show your Dutch spirit of hospitality by paying for the next round of beer.
17. Be a true Dutchie!
Show you want to fully integrate into Dutch culture by trying traditional Dutch things!
Invite your new Dutch friend to tag along with you and let them show you what the Netherlands has to offer — celebrate King’s Day, share your Hello Fresh subscription, be brave and join the Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s Dive), or get dressed up for Carnival! 🤡
18. Start dating a Dutch person
If you ask us, one of the easiest and quickest ways to make Dutch friends is by dating a Dutch person.
Then you can just steal your partner’s friends, and gradually become their favourite, no big effort involved! 😉
READ MORE | 15 things to expect on a date with a Dutchie
All kidding aside, your partner will be introducing you to his/her friends, so it’s the perfect opportunity to embark on some new Nederlandse friendships.
19. Cycle together
It might sound a little cliché but Dutchies cycle every day, why not join in, make some friends, and get in some exercise as well? Cycle to work or an event with a Dutchie.
Want to take it to the next level and take a biking tour? After a long day of biking, you need a place to relax, and that is where Vrienden op de Fiets comes in handy. The hosts offer their home for a night, and you never know, you may make a friend for life.
20. Embrace common interests
Make a friend while pursuing a hobby. Whether it’s a language course, comedy night, cooking classes, volunteer work in the community centre, or just tangling up some balls of wool in an attempt to make a scarf, these events will surely make you socialise with like-minded Dutchies.
21. Stay positive — it’s not easy, but it’s possible
Making a local friend starts by integrating with the Dutch — and that’s not going to happen overnight. However, over time, it will. So geen stress (no stress) if you’re one year in and don’t have a Dutch friend yet.
The best thing about Dutch people? They’re incredibly loyal friends — once you’re in, you’re in! ✨
Remember — Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are new friendships. Keep putting yourself out there, and we are confident a Dutch person will value your effort.
What is your experience in making Dutch friends as an international? Tell us in the comments below!