It is a good thing to learn a few things about the culture in the Netherlands and Dutch habits. This page will help you get started.

We're all equal
In general the Dutch are easygoing when it comes to formalities. They more or less see and treat everyone equally. Maybe you will be taken aback a little by the fact that especially in the academic world, the relationship between students and the academic staff is usually informal in the way that they address each other.

Hello and good-bye?
When they get together, friends will usually say hi to each other and sometimes shake hands. If the friend concerned is female, you may add three kisses on the cheeks usually starting on the right side. Of course, if you do not feel comfortable doing it this way, you can get by with just shaking hands.

Everything according to plan
The Dutch lead very planned lives. At 10.30 a.m. they drink coffee. Lunch (usually sandwiches) is around 1 p.m. At approximately 3 p.m. they drink coffee or tea. At 6 p.m. most people eat their hot evening meal. At 8 p.m. they watch the news. At approximately 11 p.m. most Dutch people go to bed.

The Weather
The Dutch spend a lot of time talking about the weather. Many conversations begin with nice weather, isn't it? or my God, it just won't clear up, will it? If you want to strike up a conversation with a stranger, talk about the weather: you can't go wrong. Many people complain about the weather, but most Dutch people wouldn't want to live in another climate.

Dutch people often keep track of the exact time. In general, they are punctual. If you are late, this irritates them very much. The Dutch equate not being on time with not being trustworthy: they can't count on you. A person who is late for a job interview will not be hired. Tip: always be on time. In the Netherlands, it is better to be ten minutes early than five minutes late.


Coffee is an essential part of Dutch life. When the Dutch invite you to their homes, they often promptly serve you a cup of coffee or tea. Is this a hint that you should not stay too long? Quite the contrary: In the Netherlands, a steaming cup of coffee is a hearty welcome. With each cup your host or hostess will offer you a cookie - one cookie, mind you - after which the lid goes back on the cookie tin. The Dutch see nothing uncongenial whatsoever in this ritual.

Usually you will be offered a second cup of coffee, again with one cookie. When two Dutch people have something to discuss, a typical remark is: "Shall we have some coffee?". This same expression is also used when the beverage is not coffee, but tea.

Dropping by unannounced
The Dutch almost never visit each other without making an appointment first. This includes close friends. People almost never drop by unannounced. The same rule applies to family: first you call them (How would it be if we came by today?). If your visit would be inconvenient, your host will simply tell you so: No, today isn't a good day. Come another time if you like.

The Dutch do not consider this rude or blunt, but 'honest'. In these situations, honesty is considered more important than tact. The Dutch also like to know exactly when you intend to arrive. That gives them time to tidy up the room and have a steaming cup of coffee ready when you ring the doorbell.

Getting straight to the point
When the Dutch have to discuss a difficult topic, their usual approach is to plunge right into it. They hardly even take the time to sit and relax. They do not gradually work up to the difficult subject, but come straight to the point. To you this might make a blunt and tactless impression, but it is not intended as such.


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