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Dealing with the Dutch by Aya Yerkin | 10 mei 2019

As an international student coming to study in the Netherlands, it might be very helpful to know some tips regarding Dutch culture before arrival. You’ll probably experience less of a culture shock and also it will help you to familiarize with Dutch traditions much quicker. My name is Aya Yerkin and I am one of HMSM’s international students, coming from Kazakhstan. I have been living in The Netherlands for the past three years firstly as an expat and now as a student. I’d be happy to share some of my experiences with the Dutch.

Spreek je Nederlands?

As is known, most of the Dutch population is fluent in English and they have no problem communicating with you in this language. However, if you try to learn some common daily phrases, your gesture will be greatly appreciated by Dutch people and acknowledged as respect to their culture. Besides, learning Dutch when living in the Netherlands can’t hurt you anyways, right?

Greet like a local

When you first arrive in The Netherlands, you might be surprised by the Dutch kissing custom. It is considered normal for Dutch people to greet each other with three kisses on the cheek and to do the same when saying goodbye. Of course, if they make a new acquaintance, they usually exchange handshakes as a formal way of greeting. Personally, this particular Dutch custom was a little difficult for me to get used to because in countries I have lived before the handshake was always enough to be polite.

Living by agenda

As a foreigner, you might get a little bit confused when trying to arrange a get together with Dutch friends. The first thing you hear from them is usually “Let me check my agenda if I have any appointments at this time”. The majority of Dutch have family meetings, social events, dinner nights out and sports activities scheduled in advance. Dutch people just love keeping their agendas that sometimes can be booked up months in advance! It might be a little bit annoying for such spontaneous people like me who used to drop by anytime without booking an appointment. However, if you make an appointment with Dutch people, you can bet your life on it they will be there right on the agreed time!

Get on the bike!

If there is a paradise country for cyclists - it definitely should be the Netherlands! Here every inhabitant, including infants, has a bicycle and the whole infrastructure is created for the convenience of movement on these two-wheeled vehicles. The country has more than 7 thousand km of bicycle paths and many bicycle tracks. The transition from cars to a bicycle is a political decision that was made in the country in the early 80s when the car began to devour a lot of money, time and health from people. Nowadays, the bicycle is a Dutch lifestyle. All that is possible, the Dutch do with their help: they ride to work, to the store, to a party with friends, and even on excursions. Therefore, you might benefit from cutting out the transport costs as soon as you get on the bike!

For more information on life and study at HMSM, feel free to check out the blogs on the website and stories on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Stay tuned!

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