Weird things Dutch people do
Do not get me wrong. During my second year of stay here, I have really fallen in love with the Netherlands and its people. I like Netherlands so much I have even started to learn the language, which believe me, is not easy, as trying to pronounce words like achtentachtig brings me to a point of tears during my Wednesday classes.
Nevertheless, I must admit Dutch people have a lot of quirks. Some of them I came to really enjoy, some of them not so much. A few of them I came to understand, but a lot of things are still a mystery to me, so I decided to write down a list. If you are an international student, I encourage you to read this article to save a lot of trouble and misunderstanding. And if you are a Dutch person reading this… can you answer why? Dankjewel.
1. Dutch fashion sense
While women in Netherlands prefer jeans and you don’t see them wearing high heels daily, Dutch men sure like to get a little extravagant. The first rule of Dutch fashion is a lot of hair gel. And brown shoes. Those are a must-have. If they want to get a bit fancy or impress you, they show up in red pants. Yes, seriously. Red pants. You know when a Dutch man shows up in red pants, brown shoes and hair gel, he likes you. Dutch men do not flirt much anyways, so all my international ladies, this is a good rule to use during dates.
Dutch people like to keep it casual. They are more scared of commitment than of shortage of hair gel. Scheduling a next date with a Dutch man can get really hard, they first need to look in their very busy agendas, and they will schedule the next afspraakje with you in like two months. Also, as already mentioned, they don’t really flirt that much. This probably ties to my next point about gender differences, as women are free to make the first move. However, to be fair, most Dutch men are tall and blonde, and so it is easy to forgive them their lack of commitment and red pants.
Dutch women are probably the most emancipated women on the planet. They are not afraid to make the first move in a bar, and you can see many ladies in Dutch politics, which is amazing. However, the shattering of gender stereotypes does not only hold for women. Therefore, going on dates usually does not mean free dinner or drinks, as Dutch people like to split the bill.
Dutch people do not mind discussing anything and everything. Dutchies, even the older generations, freely discuss topics like drugs and sexuality. Coming from a very Christian country, this often made me uneasy during my first months here. However, I think this is one of the things I really admire about the Dutch. The open conversation about drugs leads people to acquire more information about them — not just the kind of information you learn from fear-mongering high school teachers — allowing people to make better-informed choices. Sexuality is not a taboo, which makes information about sexual health and contraception use more available to the public. Furthermore, as already mentioned, female sexuality is not stigmatized and looked down upon.
5. Umm… peculiar food choices?
Now let’s discuss a thing about Netherlands I do not enjoy so much. Dutch food is… very characteristic. People here think a white piece of toast with chocolate sprinkles on it is somewhat an acceptable breakfast dish. Even more outlandish to me is their choice of lunch — a piece of cold bread with one slice of cheese and chocolate milk. Furthermore, they think herring, licorice and those weird kip spreads at Albert Heijn are lekker. If you say you come from a different country, they also find it hilarious to offer you licorice and then watch your disgusted reaction. Oh well, to each his own… I guess maybe that is why Dutch people are one of the thinnest in Europe.
6. Weird holiday traditions
Before coming here, I would have never thought that such a small country would have so many unique holidays and traditions. In my first year here, I spent a lot of time trying to understand them. On Kingsday, Dutch men drop their red pants and switch to orange. However, seeing the tradition of Zwarte Piet was the most confusing to me. I tried to ask Dutch people what it means, and learned that most of them are quite uneasy to talk about it. Only then I learned that it is a very sensitive topic you don’t want to bring up in daily conversations, and maybe stick to discussing the weather instead.
By Denisa Debrecká