5 odd little things you can find in the Netherlands

As an expat, once you get past the most obvious things that differ from what you are used to, you start to develop a kind of sixth sense when it comes to detecting strange stuff that goes on around you — and let me tell you, it’s fun!

Here is a list of just five weird things I have found after careful observation of the Dutchies and their beautiful country. 👇

1. Schoolbags on flagpoles

A couple of months ago, I kept running into schoolbags on flagpoles in random houses all over and I couldn’t help but wonder what it meant.

Was it a secret code for something? Did they run out of space inside? It was not long before I found out it is a Dutch tradition that takes place in early June when the school year is over (uitslagdag).

Apparently, if a high school senior lives in a house that happens to have a flagpole, they shall hang out their schoolbag as a sign that they passed all their final exams, and thus, are graduating (eindexamen uitslag).

It represents throwing their bag out the window, quite literally, because it is no longer needed. Very oddly cute!

2. Bikes that are used for moving a house

I have seen some pretty badass cycling during my time in the Netherlands, like the super mom (or dad) who carry four children on a bakfiets. What I really did not see coming was all the other solo bike activities Dutchies do, like carrying stuff I would honestly never have imagined. Here is a shortlist:

  • a ladder
  • a chair
  • a giant lamp
  • a surfboard
  • really heavy and big flowerpots
  • all kinds of huge boxes
  • their pets (this is probably the “most normal”),
  • and how about another bike on the side just rolling as they go?

Even if these bike-riding Dutchies are not carrying anything, they like to put their hands behind their back — because who needs to have a good grip of the vehicle they’re operating?

3. Brood met kaas every damn day

dutch lunch
A classic boterham witch cheese, a Dutch lunch delicacy. Image: Takeaway/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

The love for cheese in this country is not a secret to anyone unless you live under a rock. This being said, I did not expect Dutchies to eat the yellow stuff with bread every day for lunch.

READ MORE | Lunch in the Netherlands: culture, bread and society

I mean, I understand a sandwich is a good idea when you are in a hurry or don’t have any time to cook; but that is so not the case here. The tall people from the land of endless canals simply don’t understand life without a good brood met kaas in the middle of the day.

I personally don’t think eating that much dairy is good for you but to each their own. Plus, there’s nothing like a nice home-cooked warm meal, right?

4. A random girl on stickers plastered throughout the cities

This is one of the strangest ones. I live in The Hague and have noticed that almost everywhere I went (downtown, the beach, and suburbs), there was a sticker with what appears to be some type of yearbook style picture of a young blonde girl. I mean, who is this girl? Why is she all over the city and occasionally found on other Dutch (and even international) locations?

The answer has yet to be confirmed, but I found one theory that says some guy thought it would be funny to print a hundred stickers of his sister just to mess with her, and so he did.

I later found out this girl is all grown up now and has an Instagram account (@hetzusje), where she visits the sticker theme and you can even DM her for stickers. I mean, c’mon, how weird is that? You can’t make this stuff up!

5. Curtains that are wide open (or no curtains at all)

A curtainless country. Image: Joel de Vriend/Unsplash

I will admit this is not the first I visit this topic, but I keep coming back to it because it simply blows my mind time and time again. It deserves a spot on the weird Dutch things because where else in the world can you see everything that goes on inside a house while you walk down the street?

I think it is a combination of “we have nothing to hide” and “everyone keeps their eyes on their own business”. Of course, that is not entirely the case for impressionable expats. It’s very hard not to look inside.

What are some of the weirdest things you have discovered during your time in the Netherlands?

Feature Image: Syda_Productions/Depositphotos

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2021, and was fully updated in December 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Laila Robles Martínez
Laila Robles Martínez
Laila is a journalist born and raised in Mexico City, and has lived in Canada (a semester in high school counts, right?), Spain (where she met the love of her life and completed her Master’s Degree in Humanities) and most recently, The Netherlands. She has great passion for exploring new cultures, mothering her beautiful three-year-old son, tasting all kinds of vegan treats and, of course, writing.

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