“Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg”

Act normally, that is crazy enough – is a favorite Dutch expression.

The Dutch landscape extends beyond the tulips, cheese, dykes, canals and windmills as anyone living in The Netherlands for some time would vouch for.

Having spent the last 1.4 years here in expatriation, I have come across many of the traits from the Dutch character set – some apparent, some needing an observing eye.

The Dutch Way

• The Dutch are firm believers in equality in all spheres of life. Nobody has an undue advantage over the other.

• They are friendly people – kind, polite and helpful to tourists. They become your guiding force during the initial days of expatriation.

• Moderation is the key to a successful living for the Dutch. Show-offs are not encouraged in any field.

• There are probably more bikes than people in Holland. It is the most prized possession of the Dutch. This reflects well in their fitness and healthy lifestyle.

• The Dutch are very good planners – week days as well as the week ends are planned, well in advance.

• The Dutch lifestyle is regulated by diaries. It is probably the single most popular gift on the new year!! Everything is jotted down religiously in the diaries from meetings to leisure time.

• The Dutch seek consensus whether it be a meeting or discussion. They live by the principle of agreement and harmony.

• The Dutch enjoy a great family life and firmly believe that money cannot buy happiness. The personal and professional lives are kept separate.

• They are a private bunch and emotions are kept under check during dealings with strangers.

• Weather is the most discussed topic in short conversations. The Netherlands weather definitely merits this, what with it showing all colours from snow, to rain, to wind, to sun.

• The Dutch like to practice their English. As soon as you start off in your broken Dutch, they start speaking to you in English.

• Thanks to their spirit of openness and frankness, humour resonates well with most of them.

• ‘Koninginnedag‘ (Queen’s Day), and ‘Zomer Carnaval‘ (Summer Carnival) are the most awaited holidays, perhaps for their colourful splendour and unique attributes.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

This is Arwa’s first post for PocketCultures and we’re very pleased to welcome her to the team. Arwa is originally from India and is now based in the Netherlands.

We’re looking forward to reading more about Arwa’s comparisons between Indian and Dutch culture. In the meantime you can find her on her blog Orangesplaash.

Read more:
The famous Italian cappuccino rule: fact or fiction?
There’s life outside Istanbul: what do you think about Turkey?
Navigating Chicago’s cultural stew: diverse cultures of Chicago

About the author

An Indian expat in the Netherlands, Arwa Lokhandwala is a freelance writer, writing on travel, culture and expat related issues. A voracious reader, a curious traveler, and an amateur photographer, she has featured in a number of online publications including the Lonely Planet. She loves people, colors, festivals, and cultures. Read about her expat tales and travel adventures on her blog - Orangesplaash.