What I’ve learned from (and about!) the Dutch…

Amsterdam Canals

The Dutch are a unique bunch. Of course they have a lot in common with their neighbours, the Germans and Belgians (although they hate to admit it!). But living in the Netherlands for the past 9 months has opened my eyes to a few funny little ‘typical Dutch’ characteristics, traits, sayings, habits and what not.

  1. Hair gel is man’s best friend — never before have I seen so many sleek, smooth hairstyles. Men wear so much gel so their hair doesn’t even move while cycling at lightning pace.
  2. Bikes rule the roads — cars are simply inferior and give way to bikes who often break road rules because…why not?
  3. Everybody can & will ride a bike — it doesn’t matter how old they are, Dutchies continue to ride bikes everywhere. I’ve seen grandma’s cycle and toddlers are trained early on mini peddle-free bikes, business men in suits and women wearing stilettos, pregnant ladies or, my personal favourite — Mums with 3 kids + grocery shopping!! There are even special contraptions which allow parents to carry multiple children on a bike!
  4. Fat people don’t exist — maybe it’s a combination of good genes and constant biking?
  5. Everything is ‘super lekker!’ — Lekker is my favourite dutch word and translates to something along the lines of ‘yum/nice/fab/hot/great’. It’s used to describe food, scenery, objects and people.
  6. Menus are set — if you request a change, the response is likely to be ‘niet mogelijk’ (not possible). Some sandwiches come toasted, others don’t. End of story.
  7. Good customer service is rare — I don’t know why, because all Dutch people are very friendly, but customer service simply doesn’t exist in most retail and service settings. As a customer you feel like a massive inconvenience.
  8. Be direct — Dutchies say exactly what they think in a very concise and direct manner. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between rude and direct, but just presume the latter.
  9. Adults eat like children — a Dutch diet typically includes bread with chocolate sprinkles, ham & cheese sandwiches, chocomelk and fries with mayo. How is nobody fat????
  10. Sneakers go with everything! — ‘fashion’ sneakers like Nike or Adidas are worn with every outfit…jeans, skirts, dresses…even with tights.
  11. Be effortlessly cool — this links to the sneakers…Every single person looks dressed-down-cool. Natural makeup, hair wavy or tied in a pony, wearing chic, simple pieces, lots of black. Sounds easy, but hard to actually pull off!
  12. Toughen up! — no stupid complaining about getting wet in the rain, crashing your bike or finding mice in your house. Dutchies just get on with it
  13. The country is stupidly safe — Where else would men and women share naked spa and sauna facilities? Where else would it be okay for parents and babies/toddlers to not wear helmets while cycling on main roads with trams?

This is just a little snippet, mostly to help me remember my time in the Netherlands, and to have a laugh at the peculiar aspects of Dutch life that I have caught onto.

Ciao for now! Mik xx