10 Things About the Netherlands That Shock First-time Visitors

December 10, 2014

Beyond the red light districts and coffee shops of Amsterdam, there are things about the Netherlands and the Dutch that you’ll surely fall in love with….that is if you could get past the initial shock factor. What are the things you might be surprised by on your visit to the Netherlands? Read on to find out.

 

1. The Stingy and Frugal Dutch

Photo source: Ziko-C

Photo source: Ziko-C

The Dutch are known to be stingy, so they won’t easily treat other people and don’t tip at all. They are also known to bring their own food when on holiday to avoid spending money. It isn’t a wonder why there’s the phrase “Going Dutch” which we say when we want to split the bill evenly between all participants.

Photo Source :  Benjamin Mako Hill

Photo Source : Benjamin Mako Hill

One item of proof that the Dutch are extremely frugal is the thing they call flessenschraper or bottle scraper. It’s a Dutch kitchen tool designed to scrape the contents of long bottles so nothing gets wasted.

2. Bikes Everywhere

Photo source:wikipedia.org

Photo source:wikipedia.org

The Netherlands has more bikes (fiets) than the country’s 16 million+ people. Each Dutch person usually owns at least two bikes – one for daily use and one for excursions. The Dutch love their bicycles so much that even thieves can’t keep their hands off stealing them, which is why some people use 2-3 locks to prevent having their bikes stolen.

Photo Source :  Carl Jones

Photo Source : Carl Jones

It’s a pleasure to do day trips with a bike around Dutch towns and see the amazing sights. You’ll enjoy it more when you notice that there are fietspaden or bicycle paths marked by white signs that you’ll encounter from streets to bridges to tunnels.

3. Mashed Food

Photo Source : Robin

Photo Source : Robin

The Dutch like to mash (eten prakken) their food. Not only potatoes, you’d also find them mashing any food possible. The best example to show their love for mashing is the stamppot which is done by boiling various vegetables, mashing everything,  and ending the dish with a sausage on top. Some Dutch go overboard and even mash pasta and french fries.

4. Chocolate Sprinkles

Photo Source :Jen Lush

Photo Source :Jen Lush

If you’re used to seeing sprinkles on ice cream or doughnuts, get used to seeing these sweet toppings on bread paired with a glass of milk when you go to the Netherlands. These sprinkles are called Hagelslag and aren’t only eaten by kids but by adults as well. They can come in different colors and flavors like fruit flavor and licorice seed flavor. The Dutch also love to sprinkle Hagelslag on top of peanut butter sandwiches.

5. Abbreviations

Photo source:expatica.com

Photo source:expatica.com

If you want to speak and understand Dutch, there’s one thing that makes it more exciting and troublesome: abbreviations. The Dutch are so fond of their abbreviations that at times it seems as if though that’s all they speak. Understanding Dutch can feel like trying to crack a secret code. which can make foreigners feel frustrated especially when they need to fill up some important papers. Examples? There’s a.s. (aanstande) which means “upcoming” or “next”, and a.u.b. (alstublieft) meaning “please”.

6. The Curtains are Wide Open

Photo Source :Ulrike Grafberger

Photo Source :holland.com

In the Netherlands, the curtains are either widely opened for the whole day or do not exist at all. Is it because they want to see what’s outside? to lighten up their living room? or just because they don’t want to buy curtains? Whatever the reason is, it’s understood that the Dutch have a sense of openness. However, don’t you dare watch families doing their own thing in their homes. That’s still creepy.

7.  Dutch Birthdays

Photo Source : Irma

Photo Source : Irma

Be ready when you’re invited to a Dutch’s birthday party. No, it’s not about the food and unlimited booze. It’s all about their habit of congratulating every person present in the party. Expect to hear a lot of “Gefeliciteerd”s or “Congratulations” on someone else’s birthday, which can make you feel like it’s also your birthday.

8. Nose-picking

Photo source:wikipedia.org

Photo source:wikipedia.org

Yes, it’s true. The Dutch don’t care whether they pick their noses in private or public as long as they can do the “deed”. In fact, a study reported that over 90% of the Dutch pick their noses and just 50% of the people find it disgusting, which makes this habit it even more weird.

9. Directness

Adriaen_Brouwer,_Bauernrauferei_beim_Kartenspiel_(c._1630–1640)

A Dutch will always tell you what’s on their mind. Call it rude, shocking, insulting, or whatever, but this straightforwardness is a genuinely Dutch trait that foreigners might not like. This is how the Dutch value honesty and sincerity. In fact many Dutch citizens think that the English and American way of politeness is a sign of insincerity and hypocrisy.

10. Gezellig!

Photo credit:Rchard Matthews

Photo credit:Richard Matthews

Gezellig and gezelligheid are two words that you’ll for sure encounter when visiting the Netherlands. But what do they mean? There’s no direct English translation, but they represent a feeling of comfort that you may encounter in different situations. Let’s say you’re at a party and you’re with your closest friends with awesome music playing in the background of an atmosphere you certainly fit in. It’s cool, comfortable, friendly – it’s gezellig. You’re on top of a mountain, watching the sunset with your partner. If both of you feel connected with each other together with the sun, the sky, and everything nature has, congratulations! That’s gezellig.