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Debunking 8 Myths About The Netherlands

Date:28 July 2020
Author:Asmo
Myth Nr 3: There are windmills EVERYWHERE
Myth Nr 3: There are windmills EVERYWHERE

If you have never been to the Netherlands before, you might have a very distinct picture in your head of what life here could look like. For anyone who has not been here yet, it is easy to imagine the Netherlands as a country where people live in windmills and dance around in tulip fields in their wooden clogs. Although this probably would make for a great TV commercial for Dutch cheese, normal life in the Netherlands is actually quite different from this. For this blog, I have debunked some of the most popular myths about the Netherlands, so that you won’t arrive here in your brand new clogs and be disappointed. 

1. People wear wooden shoes

Let’s get right into one of the biggest myths about the Netherlands: everyone here wears, or at least owns, a pair of clogs. While there are around 3 million clogs (Dutch: klompen) made every year, most of them are sold to tourists. However, some Dutchies still do wear these shoes regularly, especially when doing farm work or gardening. Having said that, you will almost never see anyone wearing clogs on the streets of Groningen or in daily life. 


2. The weather is always bad 

Although the Dutch LOVE to complain about the weather, it is actually not as bad as you might think. It may rain quite frequently and get very windy sometimes, but this is also very dependent on the season of the year. In fact, there are many other places in Europe where it rains more and gets a lot colder. The thing that is true, however, is that Dutch weather is very unpredictable and changes often. This is why a lot of people carry rain capes (Dutch: regenpak) on them or have phone apps which can send out rain alerts. 


3. There are windmills everywhere 

This is probably one of the most popular myths about the Netherlands. Although there are a fair number of windmills to be found in general, most of them are located in offshore wind parks. The old-fashioned ones you are probably thinking about are quite scarce in the city. If you happen to find one, they are mostly not in use anymore and you won’t see them around as much as you would think. Nonetheless, there are a few famous ones located throughout the country, which you can go and visit.  


4. Holland and the Netherlands are the same thing 

Admittedly, this is a very common misconception and the fact that the official Dutch tourism page is found under holland.com does not help either. However, Holland is actually the name of only two Dutch provinces (North- and South-Holland), whereas there are 10 more in addition to these. So if you want to make sure to not exclude more than half of the kingdom, you should always refer to ‘The Netherlands’ instead of ‘Holland’.    


5. Tulips grow everywhere

Although the Netherlands is the world's largest exporter of tulips, don’t assume that the whole country is covered in colorful tulip fields. There are some very popular tulip/flower gardens in the Netherlands such as Keukenhof, which attracts a lot of tourists every year, but by and large you will only come across tulips on the farmers market or in the local supermarket. 


6. The Dutch are cheap

We’ve all come across the saying ‘going Dutch’, so of course it would not seem too far off to assume that it originates from the Dutch habit of being a bit cheap. It is true that the Dutch are always up for a good deal (‘korting’) and are quite adamant about everyone paying their equal share when going out, but I would not go as far as to call them stingy. Everytime I have been out with Dutch friends, they are happy to take turns buying dinner or drinks as long as no one is being taken advantage of. 


7. There is cannabis everywhere 

The Netherlands is known all over the world for its relaxed drug policy and tourists coming here often think that there is a coffee shop (not the one selling cappuccinos) at every corner. This is why it may come as a surprise to you that cannabis is actually still illegal (albeit decriminalised) and the overwhelming majority of the Dutch do not consume it. In fact, cannabis consumption in the Netherlands is significantly lower than in Italy, the Czech Republic or Canada.   


8. Everyone is tall, blonde and blue-eyed 

While it is true that the Dutch are the world's tallest people on average, and many are also blonde and blue-eyed, this does not mean that everyone here is. Dutchies come in all shapes, sizes and forms so there are still plenty of people under 180 cm, with different hairstyles and eye colours. Especially interesting is that average sizes in NL vary depending on where you are in the country. For instance, people in the south tend to be a bit shorter on average when compared with people residing in the north. 

Do you want to know more about life in the Netherlands, or do you have any more myths that you would like us to debunk? Let us know in the comments below or message us at prospectives@rug.nl

About the author

Asmo
Asmo
Hey there! My name is Asmo and I’m a Finnish/German student exploring life in the Netherlands. Besides being into photography and politics, I am currently completing my double master's degree in European law and international law. Oh, and I write blogs as well.

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