Since I’ve been living in the Netherlands for almost 3 months now (it goes by so fast!), I thought a post about the Netherlands is in order. When I moved to Germany, I already knew tons of stereotypes and cultural facts about the country so their “foreignness” was quite easy to understand. Although I’ve been to the Netherlands (well Amsterdam) a few times before, the Dutch largely still remains somewhat of a mystery since they’re not exactly widely talked about by non-Dutch people.
And while I still haven’t fully uncovered the mystery of their ways, there are some observations I’ve made during my time here!
1. Everyone is tall and skinny
This is definitely true where I live (in the Utrecht/Amsterdam area) although having gone to the south of the Netherlands, people don’t seem as tall or skinny as their northern counterparts. It’s not uncommon finding girls who are 6′ tall, although being 5’5, surprisingly I don’t feel that short. There’s actually quite a few Dutch girls my height, but anything shorter is definitely a rarity.
When it comes to being skinny, I find it really impressive how fit people here stay, even well into old age. I read somewhere that obesity rates are increasing everywhere in the EU except for the Netherlands and it really shows. Especially coming from Bavaria where everyone seems to sport a beer belly, it’s definitely a change being here!
Interestingly, Dutch people also really love fried foods like fries (which is served in heaping piles!) and kroket (a long deep fried doughy thing filled with different kinds of meat) which you can get at any of the fast food “vending machines” scattered around a city. How do they stay skinny eating all of that still remains a mystery but judging by what my colleagues eat for lunch, the Dutch seem to prefer salads and other very light meals! Also they bike A LOT.
2. Everyone is bike obsessed
This is so true as cyclists fill the city. Dutch people probably master the art of riding a bike at a very young age so that when they’re older they can master talents like biking through a thunderstorm, reading while biking, eating while biking and more. Some people even bike more than an hour (one way) to get to work every morning!
However, one thing that’s annoying about this is when bikes fill pedestrian streets as well. Cyclists here always think they ave the right of way and will bike through even the tiniest street crowded with people!
Anyone who has been to Amsterdam also knows that when crossing the street from the central station to the city centre, there is a 50% chance of death.
3. Everyone is super healthy
I always felt like Germans have a “faux” healthy lifestyle going on. They’re obsessed with bio foods and yet practically everyone in Bavaria smokes a pack a day. The stereotype is that Germans love to hike but judging by the fact that Germans have become the second fattest country in Europe, they are either eating way too much or not doing enough intensive cardio exercises.
In the Netherlands, I feel like everyone are sport fanatics (and that’s not just because I’m working at Nike!). First there’s the intensive biking everyone does (and that includes seniors too!), and then there’s all the other sports they love like skating, skiing, running etc. Also why are people always eating salads here?!
I’m also happy to report that I rarely see smokers here. The other day I saw a person walking and smoking and I thought it was the weirdest, most out of place thing! (TIP: If you hate smokers like me, definitely AVOID Austria. Smoking isn’t banned in cafes or bars so everywhere you go people will be waving their cigarettes in your face).
4. Everyone has good fashion in a slightly hipster way
Again, this is very much in the Amsterdam/Utrecht area since elsewhere else I’ve been in the country, the fashion hasn’t been very impressive. While I admire French and Italian fashion, I feel like my personal style fits in really well in the Netherlands. Girls here love their leather jackets, skinny black jeans, chelsea boots, neutral colour palettes etc like I do! They kind of have a “Scandinavian cool” look without being as grungey and edgy and I love it!
One annoying thing though is that I feel like fashion-wise, I fit in too well here. Sometimes it can feel strange to see people all around you wearing similar outfits to you in the city. Also everyone always mistakes me for a local and speaks to me in Dutch.
Coming from fashion-backwards Germany where skinny jeans still isn’t a thing, it’s definitely a welcomed change!
5. Non-Dutch People always assume all of the Netherlands is Amsterdam
This one isn’t specific to Dutch people, but ever since I’ve moved to the Netherlands ALL of my friends always ask me how’s Amsterdam even though I’ve mentioned that I’m living in Utrecht. Then again Utrecht is only about 25 mins by train from Amsterdam so it could practically be a suburb of Amsterdam (don’t tell anyone from Utrecht I said that). I’m not bothered but it just find it amusing…I wonder how the Dutch feel about this?
6. People from Northern Netherlands are very “different.”
I find this so funny because ALL Dutch people make this exact same statement. It’s like they’re all some mystical creature up there. I’m still not exactly sure why they’re so “different” but I need to go up there and see for myself!
And that’s it for now! (although I’m sure there’ll be a part two or even three at some point in the future).
Have you guys lived in the Netherlands? What observations have you made about the Dutch?