Let’s go Dutch!
The Dutch are one of a kind. They are highly educated and most of them speak English. Expats love this fact. What expats don’t realize is that this prevents expats from really integrating in Dutch society. Moreover, ever noticed a group of Dutch people, first talking in English and when they talk about trivial things or when the words become more complicated to translate, they switch to Dutch, leaving the foreigner in the dark.
Met de deur in huis vallen / Get straight to the point
Not only is it convenient to know some basic level of Dutch, there are some cultural differences that expats need to be aware of. In some cultures it takes a long time to build a relationship of trust before doing business. The Dutch however are more goal oriented and want to close a deal as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Dutch society is very egalitarian. It is normal that the CEO pours in his own coffee and talks with the cleaning lady. Moreover, in the army although you have several ranks, equal treatment finds it way in the culture too. The Dutch are very direct, in comparison with the English people where you have to read in between the lines to get the message. The English like to make understatements to make a point, while the Dutch just say what they think.
Take your bike & be in time!
In some countries coming late is part of the culture, while in the Netherlands agendas are holy. Being on time is very important. It is normal to go on a bike to your work, while in comparison in some countries bikes are only for children or for the economically less well off. Many countries lack the right infrastructure for bikes, however the Netherlands thought everything through, even the public transport operates pretty efficiently. During rush hour long lines of traffic congests on the highway, somehow the smart Dutch didn’t find a solution to that problem.
Feel at home in The Netherlands
The Dutch also tend to separate their work life from their private lives. Making it harder for expats to integrate into Dutch society. For an expat learning some basic Dutch and understanding some cultural differences, can be paramount to having a great time in the Netherlands. Through it is possible to practice your Dutch for free. Moreover, every expat should read ‘The UnDutchables’, a witty book about the Dutch customs and mentality. If you really want to integrate in the Dutch language and culture you can start with Flowently’s ‘Feel at Home session’. Your private tutor can help you with improving your Dutch language skills and assist you with getting used to the Dutch culture, while having a coffee in a café or walking around in your new town.
By Jeroen Spangenberg