What are the things Dutch people do and won’t admit?
No, I’m not talking about visiting the Red Light district. I mean, what are their quirks, habits and weird behaviors? It takes an outsider to recognize such traits – but integrated enough to make Dutch people comfortable to show their true selves. And just when they think they’re safe, BAM! You betray them and write an article on why they’re weird, and why you still love them.
Dutch people are proud. They won’t EVER say they are nationalistic and, among each other, they have lots of fun complaining about things that don’t work the way they should, but the pride they have for their little country and their (mostly well functioning) systems is undeniable.
If you, as an expat/immigrant, try and question some of their rules and systems, you’ll almost certainly bang your head against a wall of “Yes, but…“: things here work better than in many other places, and as an outsider you haven’t earned your right to criticize them (yet). Soon enough follows the dutchsplaining, or why/how they do things that way and why this is the best of all possible worlds.
This goes hand in hand with having an opinion on just about everything, so you can see why sometimes Dutchies sound a bit know-it-all!
2. Food – just enough
Coming from a country where food is a religion, the Netherlands seems like a pretty frugal place. And I’m not talking about the fanciness of the food – much simpler, about the amount of it. In many occasions I was invited to parties where the amount of food there was just enough for the people attending. While in Italy reigns the unspoken rule that the refreshments should be enough to feed twice the expected attendees, an unannounced +1 in the Netherlands could cause awkward looks and whispers (“has he brought his drinks and snacks??“).
This may be related to the fact that unexpected guests aren’t something the Dutchies deal very well with. You come or you don’t – bailing or showing up spontaneously aren’t options.
One upside of this eating attitude is that they don’t get offended if you say no to more food. It may sound silly, but where I am from refusing extra serves can be seen as rude, or as being a picky eater. It is refreshing to be able to eat just the amount of food you want without having to blame some made-up allergy. (On the other hand, eating more than your allotted quota will make you look greedy!)
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Dutch people love to: plan; be on time; save money; eat fast. What do all these things have in common? Easy! Most of behaviors and quirks Dutch people have could be summarized and explained by the pursuit of efficiency. Why waste time and/or money by doing things spontaneously?
Everybody loves achieving the best results with minimal efforts and minimal energy loss (that’s what efficiency boils down to). However, the Dutchies bring this to the extreme, and often I get the feeling that their strife for efficiency comes with a loss of chill or satisfaction.
Take a lunch: wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to have something more than a slice of bread and cheese? Yes, but then it’d take longer. Or a vacation: I like to keep my plans open so to adjust to changing circumstances. Traveling with Dutchies has taught me that there is no such thing as changing circumstances (i.e. pouring rain when you planned a camping), but just lack of courage or will. Pull through the storm and stick with the plan!
Have you observed any other weird habits while living in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!
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