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Embracing your Dutch side at Uni

Date:22 July 2020
A Dutch fave: cheese fondue for dinner
A Dutch fave: cheese fondue for dinner

For new international students coming to Groningen, you might experience some culture shock. Dutch culture can be very different from other cultures, so being a little thrown off is completely normal. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to experience new cultures, and the best way to do that is to go along with it. 

Here are 8 tips on how to embrace your Dutch side while at uni. If you can confidently say that you do at least 5 of them, you are becoming a real Dutchie!

1. The weather is important to us 

This isn’t the first time I’m writing about this, and it certainly won’t be the last - but adapting to the Dutch attitude towards the weather is the first step of your integration process. When it’s raining, complain about the rain, but don’t let it stop you at any cost. Get a good rain jacket, and adopt the Dutch attitude of not caring it’s raining. Also, download Buienradar so that you can track the incoming rainstorms and plan your travels accordingly. Don’t forget to proudly tell people if you got somewhere before it started raining. When it’s sunny, make sure you tell everyone you see how nice the weather is. Dutchies start wearing shorts when it's 20+ degrees, which might seem weird for people coming from warmer countries, but hey, we’re optimists. 

2. Dressing up isn't necessary  

In other student cities around the world, going out is seen more like an event. People get dressed up, girls wear heels and get all dolled up. This is most definitely not the case in the Netherlands, compared to other countries. Since you can go out any day of the week, and the bars, clubs, and cafés don’t have closing times or entry fees, it’s not really a big thing to go out. Girls don’t wear heels (mostly because we’re tall enough already) and you don’t need to be dressed up to get in anywhere. The whole going out scene is much more casual and accessible. So be like a Dutchie - spontaneously decide to go out and roll up to the Poelestraat in the outfit you wore in the UB all day. 

3. Say goodbye to Uber, we bike here

If you’re used to driving places or taking cab’s from A to B, you’ll need to get used to the Dutch way of transportation (and the short distances!). Trains, buses, and bikes are your new mode of transportation. For Dutchies, having to travel for an hour or two seems like you're traveling to the other side of the world, this may come as a shock for those who are used to traveling an hour to get anywhere. Uber is also out of the question, as it’s not very common in Groningen. Get a bike, request an OV-chipcard (public transport card), download the 9292 app and the NS app to be up to date about how to get around by public transport, and stow away your driver's license, because you won’t be needing that anymore. 

4. Stock up on mayonnaise and cheese 

The biggest culture-shock moment will probably be Dutch cuisine. Next to our abnormal cheese and potato consumption, there are also a few other culinary delights you have to enjoy before calling yourself an integrated Dutchie. As a Dutchie myself, I must say, it’s definitely something you need to get used to. Breakfast includes chocolate sprinkles and mini cookies on bread, snacks include black licorice (we love that) and syrup-cookies, and we really, really like mayonnaise. Order the “patatje oorlog” (which directly translates to war fries), which is fries topped with peanut sauce, a generous helping of mayonnaise and raw onions. Other unhealthy treats we love include anything deep-fried, or as we call it “bittergarnituur”, which is a selection of deep-fried meat and cheese snacks. You’ll know you’re warming to our culture when you get excited by pulling a deep-fried snack out of the snack vending machine. 

5. Get sporty 

After reading all about our guilty food pleasures, you might wonder how you’re going to stay in shape after eating sugar for breakfast and adding mayonnaise to everything. Great question! Despite our deep-fried treats, we’re still one of the healthiest countries in the world which is also due to sports. As kids, almost all Dutchies participated in sports like hockey, tennis, football and ice skating. Because of this, most Dutch students will continue to stay active as a student. That is why we have the biggest overarching sports association in Europe, and you can join over 49 sports clubs. So want to be like a Dutchie? Join a sports team, where you’ll meet Dutch and international students! 

6. Fashion staples 

Europeans are generally known to be quite fashionable as it is, but the Dutch fashion trends in student cities are something else. Trends come and go quickly, and almost all Dutchies will follow the current trends to stay fashionable. Want to blend in? Wear a few staple clothing pieces that every Dutchie will have in their closet. For guys, it’s dress shirts or long sleeve t-shirts with a brand name on it (Patagonia, Scotch & Soda, Champion, Carhartt.. etc) and for girls is a pair of Dr. Martens, flared pants, oversized blouses and lots of jewelry. 

7. Stubborn, but independent 

You’ve, without a doubt, probably heard about how direct Dutchies are. We say it like it is, not beating around the bush. Next to our directness, we’re also pretty stubborn - like to get what we want, and don’t like being pushed around. This sparks a degree of independence that might come as a shock or might come across as rude. For example, girls don’t really like having guys do everything for them (carrying things, opening doors, helping you with your coat on). You’ll get a response “oh it’s fine, I can do it myself”. Want to come across like a Dutchie? Be independent and self-sufficient.

8. Either get used to 3 kisses or just keep it to a fistbump 

Every culture has its own ways of greeting people, as do the Dutch. Three kisses on the cheek are the formal greeting, and for friends, it's usually a kiss on the cheek. Dutch don’t really do hugs. I repeat, Dutch do not do hugs. As a half-American, it’s common to hug people you don’t even know and I still have to get used to this. Don’t catch yourself going into a hug and your Dutchie on the other end goes for a kiss on the cheek. It's awkward. When greeting your new Dutch friends, go for a kiss on the cheek. (unless you don’t feel comfortable with that, in that case, I suggest a fist bump).

Hopefully, this will help you overcome any culture shock, let us know in the comments below if you do any of these things! 

Yay! You're on the path to becoming a Dutchie!
Yay! You're on the path to becoming a Dutchie!


About the author

Hey! I’m Danique, a Dutch/American studying International Relations and International Organizations with a mild obsession with coffee, cats, and rowing. If you can’t find me, look for the girl (almost always) wearing pink and writing blogs.


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