9 habits of weird and wonderful Dutch people. It’s been a year since I moved to Amsterdam. And this week I got asked multiple times what I find interesting or weird about Dutch people and their habits, given than I’m only one of couple foreigners in otherwise fully Dutch company. So I thought what better way to celebrate my 1 year anniversary than talking about all the weird and wonderful things Dutch people do and think that is totally normal.
3 kisses for strangers. Dutch people like to kiss strangers, a lot. Here is an upside down logic. If you meet a stranger in Netherlands, you give him/her 3 kisses. If you’re already becoming friendly, you give him/her 2 kisses. And if he’s a good friend, you give him/her just one kiss. Go figure.
Insure everything. Dutch people love a good insurance. Health, house, car, cycle, phone, holiday. Insurance against carrots being out of stock on Sunday in your local Albert Heijn supermarket, you can arrange that, too. Funny thing is, Netherlands is one of the safest and most organized countries on Earth, so there really is not much need to ensure anything.
4 week days. Working part time or generally 4 days per week is a norm. If you want to work full time in Netherlands people look weird at you. Assuming that you need to save for mortgage deposit or your wife kicked you out of the house so you have nothing better to do than work. HR will ask you twice, are you sure? Forger France and Sweden with their 6 hour work days, the ultimate work life balance revolution is quietly taking place here in Netherlands.
Expensive birthdays. Back home, when I have a birthday, people bring me presents, flowers and cakes. Not here. If you have a birthday in Netherlands, you are expected to bring cake and drinks to entertain everyone. Going out? You’re buying drinks for everyone. So the morning after is double painful, hangover from cheep wine as that is all you could afford, given that you paid drinks for 12 other people. And nasty surprise from your bank account.
Sun terraces. Amsterdam is almost as “sunny” as London, so local folks take advantage of every single ray of sunshine on offer. It might be 5 degrees, but if the sun is out, dutchies will sit outside on the terrace drinking cold beer and adjusting seats every 15 minutes, to get the sun angle just right.
No credit. Dutch banks exclusively use Maestro cards for all standard bank accounts. You can not get Mastercard or Visa debit card. The trick with Maestro cards is that they don’t come with actual account numbers so they can not be used for online shopping. Also, when traveling with Maestro cards, it’s hit and miss, especially outside Europe. So while the whole world uses Mastercard or Visa, Dutch banks are sticking to Maestro. Even stores generally only accept Maestro cards, so if you’re a foreigner and you want to pay for something with Mastercard and Visa, you’re screwed. And the best thing, most Dutch people think that is totally normal. I call it the biggest bank scam in the Universe. If you want to leave Netherlands or shop online you have to apply for a credit card. If you can get one, that is. Everywhere in the world it is normal to show you have stable income for last 2–3 months and you get a credit card with limited amount. Not in Netherlands. Here you have to show permanent work contract as well. Funny thing is, almost every person working in Netherlands for the first year or two is on 6 or 12 month contract, that gets extended. So in reality for first couple of years working in Netherlands you can not get a Mastercard to spend your hard earned cash the way you want it, no matter what your income is. Again, as an expat I am furious, but for locals that seems totally normal requirement.
Bread addiction. You might think that locals would have a good old coke habit, given that drugs here are de facto de criminalized. But no, real Dutch addiction is bread. They love that stuff. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sandwich is a good food option any time of the day, like the rice for Chinese. And proper way to eat your sandwich is with knife and fork, don’t you dare to pick it up with hands. There will be disapproving stares everywhere.
2 cycles. Every self respecting Dutch citizen will have at least two bicycles. One 50 euro half broken, dirty old cycle that they would use every day to go to work and other one, worth 1000 euros and up that would sit at home, safely locked away and only taken out for weekend fun rides, that happen 4 times per year. My logic would be to use a good bike for everyday and enjoy it, but what if it gets stolen. Better keep it safely tucked away. Great return on investment, I must say.
Korting is king. There is nothing that makes a Dutch person more happy than a good korting (sale/discount). Dutch look after their money well so they never buy anything at full price, but give them a korting and the stuff is flying off the shelves. It does not matter if you really need that 3 level teflon coated BBQ set. What matters is that you got it on a 50% discount, so at 259 euros it was a bargain. Friends will sure envy you and the beer will flow. Ahh, korting, what a joy, what a joy.
That’s it, do these 9 things and you’ll be more Dutch than the Dutch.
Ivars Krutainis More Memories / Less Fantasy Instagram.com