Though you will meet a lot of internationals in Utrecht, the way daily life is organized still has its roots in the background and history of the Netherlands. Your journey of getting settled in Utrecht Region has probably caused quite some surprises, some pleasant and some less pleasant, or even frustrating. There might be some challenges (small or large) in navigating your way around cultural aspects of daily life in the Netherlands.
Starting with social life, one important aspect of creating your home is getting in contact with your neighbors. You probably have already found out that privacy is quite a big thing in the Netherlands. Therefore, what is the best way to say hello? Most of the Dutch, if they move to a new neighborhood, introduce themselves by knocking on their neighbors door (or ringing) to share what has brought them to their new home, and ask if the neighbors would have time for a coffee. Sometimes the coffee may wait for months (sometimes even never), but it can also be a spontaneous get together with a coffee. Just start with the two neighbors living next to you. And remember, if you don’t want to kiss three times, you don’t need to kiss three times. Although if you like the habit just make it yours. You can choose how to find your Dutch way.
What about making friends?
One thing to keep in mind is that is takes time to make friends with the Dutch. If you realize after all your efforts that you still don’t have a big crowd of Dutch friends, it is not you, but rather the privacy focused and busy Dutch mindset. You might have better chances if you register with a sports club (sportvereniging). The Dutch like sports and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that Dutch soccer teams call the moment of socializing after the match ‘the third half’? Sports can be about being healthy, but also about sharing a drink. This is especially so when there are social get-togethers for supporting the Dutch championships. Although, when was that again…? While the men’s soccer team is falling behind, the Dutch women soccer team won the European Championship!
Now you have managed to find a great job in Utrecht, and the work culture could be a bit new to you. You might work in an international setting, but it is also possible you will work with a Dutch manager in a Dutch team. You may have learned about the directness of the Dutch, but sometimes it can come across as being close to rude. Keep in mind it is not the intention of your Dutch colleague to be rude. It is rather his or her way of showing transparency. On YouTube you can find many very interesting videos on Dutch culture which can put your experiences into context. You can also register for an introduction day to learn more about the Netherlands and see what works for you. The Netherlands is so much more fun if you find your Dutch way.
Although the Dutch all speak English very well, it really helps to learn Dutch to fully integrate. You’ll be surprised how fast you’ll learn, how rewarding it is, and how much fun! You’ll be able to read the local news, understand the culture better, make new friends, get some of their jokes and feel more at home in Utrecht Region.
There are some typical Dutch snacks/delicacies which you should try out. Definitely try the 'Stroopwafel', 'Poffertjes (little pancakes) and if you are a real daredevil you can try out some 'drop' (liquorice).
Tip: Learn to ride a bike
Learn to ride a bike and connect to your surrounds, you will be able to discover some of the hidden gems of the region, castles, forts, forests and lakes. Take in the fresh air, smell the grass and the wind in your hair.
Are you exploring the possibilities to start a career in the Netherlands? This video will acquaint you with the Dutch Business culture, so you will better understand those little habits that make the Dutch tick.
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