Bikes, Cycling, Dutch language, The Netherlands, Typically Dutch

5 Dutch Habits You Need to Adopt to Adapt

Living in the Netherlands means you’ll eventually take on Dutch habits. Here are five simple ways to adjust to Dutch life.

5 Dutch Habits You Need to Adopt to AdaptTalk Like the Dutch

The Dutch may have an excellent command of English, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to speak Dutch. No one is saying it’s easy, but making an effort does count.

Muttering goedemorgen at your Dutch colleagues is a good start, although given the throat wrenching ‘g’ sound it may be safer to start with a simple dag.

Waving your hand next to your ear (comparable to Queen Elizabeth’s royal wave) and excitedly uttering lekker will get you through lunch (and any other food related appointment).

To close out the day, wave and say tot morgen to anyone you pass on your way out.

Travel Like the Dutch

When in the Netherlands one shall ride on two wheels. Get yourself a fiets (a bike) to step significantly closer to top level inburgering. Getting that bike stolen puts you yet another step closer.

Eat Like the Dutch

You may never have seen a frikandel, a bitterbal or a kipcorn before but it won’t be long before one of the three is placed before you. These are examples of Dutch snacks and really adapting involves sampling them. Don’t ask what they are made from.

You will also notice that the Dutch have a staple diet of potato (sometimes in the form of stamppot), veggies and some kind of meat. Go with it.

Pea soup, rookworst, stroopwafels, drop, raw herring, nasi or bami goreng, oliebollen: all things you should try at least once if you truly want to adapt. I confess I have skipped the raw herring. For more reasons than I can share here.

Further reading:

Weather it Like the Dutch

If you really want to get to grips with Dutch living then you need to become a bit of a weather buff. The Dutch love to talk about the weather (very similar to the Brits). It’s the koning topic of small talk.

I do actually know someone who talks of little else, but that’s thankfully not typical.

In the Netherlands you can witness every possible weather in one day so you have enough fodder to keep the conversation alive with any and every Dutch person you should happen upon.

Be Gezellig Like the Dutch

The Dutch like gezellig. They are good at gezellig; so good there isn’t really a way of translating it. It’s a feeling. It’s kind of cosy, but then warmer and cuddlier than that. Gezellig is as Dutch as it gets.

Note that there are Dutch people who wouldn’t know gezellig if it marched up to them and punched them in the neus. These people are strictly ongezellig. Don’t be like them. Don’t spend your time with these characters – look for the gezellig people and learn from them.

These are the people who know exactly how to spend a sunny day: gezellig on a terrace with friends and beverages.

These are the people who know that winter evenings are made gezellig by adding friends and candles.

These are the people who serve you coffee and cake when you visit for a gezellig chat.

Be that person.



6 thoughts on “5 Dutch Habits You Need to Adopt to Adapt”

  1. As a Dutchie living in foreign lands, I love reading your posts. I love things gezellig, which are not always easy to find in other countries (but Denmark does gezellig = hygge in spades). Today here in the south of France it’s a very ‘Dutch day’ with lots of rain and wind. So this morning I said to my (American) husband that we’d better make it gezellig in the house by turning on lamps, have something nice to go with coffee and stay at home, snuggle on the sofa, read books and enjoy a lazy day. Now if only I had some bitterballen to go with wine this evening…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi my name is Rose Marie, Amanda- This is a delightful blog. I am a mother of a Dutch/American teenager living in Spain living with his Dutch Dad-Mainly with UK blood myself, I might add. My take is we lost a lot when we won the war over there when we were a “colony.” My sentiments are not popular amongst my “countrymen,” but I tend toward Dutch frankness so feel quite fine in having said this. We left the Netherlands when my son was 3 years old to live in America, buy property- do that whole “American Thing,” ( ughhh).As my husband had lived in America for 30 years and had a grown son there also, we thought it might be wise to take be in the vicinity for a while so my son would get to know his brother growing up. Well, that happened, but so did a lot of ugly other stuff in the American landscape-and so now we are back on the other side of the pond, where the urban scenery is generally better. There are a lot loss bodies to trip over on your night out. America’s homeless levels have reached critical proportions, and no one talks about it in the national news, let alone the local news, nor do the politicians and organizations “do ‘ anything about it.
    Spain is lovely, as we all know for its sensate and culture pleasures, however, it now appears we will be migrating north for all the Netherlands has to offer in the way of Education and “Opportunity,” vs the rather flat landscape that exists her in Spain if you are not fluent in Spanish and well connected with family and officials! Ha! It’s going to be a challenging road ahead as my son does not speak Dutch and has to enter into a MVO language immersion, and ISK school. As my son is very bright academically and participating in a Private Honour’s Science, Online American High School, as he fell between the crack here with his language level and The Private English Schools were a bit out of our budget and frankly would have placed him in an English Bubble, or so we were warned. I am hoping that the system in the Netherlands can support this hybrid of a boy and assist in the proper way to keep him worthy University Admission if he takes a year to do the Taal Cursus. He is interested in Microbiology ,so the University of Leiden is our focus. We simply had to leave America as thinking, feeling human beings last year. Unfortunately, my husband did not speak to my son in Dutch so it has complicated our course. If you are aware of any volunteer opportunities or organizations in which to be involved in and around The Hague, that are ideal for teens in his situation, trying to get back into “The Dutch Clutch,” when you originally were unwisely ripped from the womb, please share that information. Thanks for listening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite a journey you have made as a family – and an exciting new chapter. I am not sure about volunteering opportunities that fit your son but I was involved with Access for a while and it’s certainly a great organisation to touch base with as a starting point. See for more info. Feel free to get in touch as you progress if you have any questions, or need pointers. I will help if I can. Good luck!


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