Posted on: November 22, 2020 Posted by: Soreh Milchtein Comments: 79
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They might be the coldest people, but they aren’t as cold as Wisconsin, USA. And trust me, I know cold. I grew up in WI, born in December to Russian Jewish immigrants. Arguably, WI is the coldest place in the continental US. I really do know cold. Listen, before you start reading this, you should know, that I actually do love the Netherlands. Check out my blog posts about how much I love the Netherlands. This is my humorous take on the few things that do get under my skin. All in good fun. I mean, would you want to be here if you’re expected to start working before the sun’s come up? Like what in the world? It’s a culture I’m still learning to understand. I have embraced some things about it like riding a bike, but other things, I’ll never wrap my head around. Who wants to eat sandwiches twice a day for the rest of your life?

1. Very Hard to Find Variety

I feel like it’s sometimes impossible to find fresh ingredients in the supermarket. Like in order to get good dill, I need to go to the farmers market. The one in the supermarket is already chopped up and super gross. Trying to find more than 3 varieties of potatoes? You’re going to have to search really far. Many times, I just have to settle instead of enjoy things that I like. In order to find variety like certain spices or dill pickles, you must go to specialized stores. It’s great for small businesses but annoying for me. I’m used to finding everything at the supermarket.

2. Dutch People Are Some of the Coldest M-F**Kers Out There

I have yet to meet a Dutch person who wants to be my friend. They always say that they would love to meet up, I give them my number and then they never call. I thought the whole click thing when you don’t want new friends were left in high school. Apparently not. I have met a few warm Dutch people. They will help you if you need help. My neighbors can be quite helpful when I need assistance with schlepping something. But I never see them showing any kind of emotion. I can’t exactly describe what being warm is like. If you know what I mean, you get it. The Dutch are certainly not warm people. Perhaps it’s not so much them being cold but my being one of those, you know, Americans.

3. Working Times

My boyfriend starts work at or before 8:00 am. Most people in his office start way before he does. I get you want to beat the morning traffic, but is it worth waking before daylight and going to sleep when babies go to bed? Hmm, I don’t think so.

I woke up to sunrise and my boyfriend was already at work.

4. Sandwiches?!

What is it with the Dutch’s obsession with bread? It’s delicious, I know, but can we get a decent breakfast or lunch once in a while? Don’t they ever get bored of their sandwiches? I sometimes eat sandwiches when I want something quick. A lot of days, I eat eggs, oatmeal, or even a bowl of cereal and milk. So nice to switch it up once in a while.

A proper eggy breakfast.

5. Doctors Who Seem to Have Never Gone to Medical School

I know the Dutch system is one of the best. But, of course, I’m the one who had a bad experience. It’s kinda hard to bounce back from a wrongly diagnosed broken foot that led to more than a year in pain. I wrote a whole blog post about that too. The doctors here do not know how to be a doctor. They always send you away saying you’ll be fine and that you should take paracetamol, like what the hell? Is it a cure-all? And when they do give you a medication, they don’t even explain how to use it for how long. My doctor always tells me “Soreh, we aren’t in America, we don’t test everyone because it’s costly. Like wtf. No shit we aren’t in America, but can I get a proper diagnosis? Do they even have a heart? Did they even go to medical school? I guess in a way it’s a good way of practicing medicine because there aren’t a huge number of opioid addicts.

6. The Dutch Are Very Punctual

Someone invites you for dinner at 6:00 pm, expect to be there at 5:55 pm. Does the party start at 9:00 pm? If you’re not there by 9:00 pm sharp, you’re late. I’m all for punctuality when it comes to work or appointments, but social gatherings? There’s no harm in showing up a bit late. What’s another 15 or 20 minutes? Stereotypically, Jews don’t own a watch. So being on time isn’t exactly easy for us.

Always gotta be checking my watch.

7. No Hugs, Kisses or Even Shaking Hands

It took me a long time to unlearn my Hasidic education around not showing affection in public. Once I finally unlearned it, I ended up in the Netherlands. Dutch people don’t even kiss or hold hands in public if they are a couple. The only PDA they show is on formal occasions like Christmas, they greet each other with 3 kisses. I guess they got to make up for all that PDA they missed throughout the year.

8. Speaking English to You When You’re Trying to Speak Dutch

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the hell out of Dutch people. They actually learn English, unlike the stubborn French people. But if I’m trying to learn Dutch and actually speak to you in Dutch, can you work with me? Then they go and ask, “how’s your Dutch going?” Horrid because you answered me in English. Makes my life easier right now but in the long run, it’s only making it harder for me to learn Dutch.

9. What’s Cooking?

I blame this one on my Hasidic mother too. She made everything from scratch, from soup to bread. How can it be that the Netherlands is so close to so many countries with good food, like France, and Dutch people do not know how to cook well? I’m very sorry but taking frozen snacks and frying them isn’t cooking. Taking soup and meat out of a can and heating them up isn’t cooking. Not to mention, all the food is hella bland. Have you ever heard of spices? I thought they were known for the East India (Spices) Company. Fried snacks like bitterballen are delicious but they aren’t a proper meal. The Dutch people value time with family instead of slaving away in the kitchen.

Canned what soup? Hell no. Made 100% from scratch.

10. Sugar in Everything

Sugar, sugar, sugar. Every salad and prepared food you can find has sugar. What is the obsession with sugar? Doctors in America have drummed into me the horrors of sugar. Not that it really got to me, but at least I attempted to cut back. Kinda impossible here. Who puts sugar in a deviled eggs or tuna salad? They are ruining my favorite foods with their sugar fixation. They even eat buttered bread with sprinkles, it’s called hagelslag. It’s just not my cup of tea.

I make my own deviled eggs, without sugar.

11. The Yelling

I grew up in a home where people were always yelling so I intentionally took myself out of such situations. The Dutch are always yelling at each other. They think it’s a normal tone of voice, but it’s really not guys. If you have to talk over each other, then you’re yelling. I learned in kindergarten how to use my indoor voice. That yelling tone of voice actually hurts people’s feelings. Foreigners aren’t used to be yelled at about everything.

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79 People reacted on this

    1. Hey listen, I totally get it. I’m not patriotic. This is my take on a country that I’ve grown to love. Feel free to read all my other posts about how much I love it here. Come on, you gotta understand that outsiders can have some negative views.

    2. Wow people, you need to calm down. The first paragraph reads that she loves it here. The post is well written and it’s about one person’s experience.

      Sorry, great work. I’ll be reading more by you.

    3. I recognize all of what you are saying. I have never lived anywhere it is soooo hard to make friends. I have some great acquaintances with whom i go out to dinner, etc (when it was possible that is) but finding a “bosom buddy” seems impossible. And i also agree with you about the “broodjescultuur” as i call it; eating sandwiches twice a day and most cafes offering the exact same menu for lunch:-)
      But i don’t quite get the “early to work” phenomenon. When i was working (because i am in tourism and that has evaporated 100% at the moment) snd i had to be in a certain location, in the beginning i would follow my NY method: get there and go have breakfast somewhere near there! But alas, had to give that up, because no self respecting Dutch cafe opens up before 8 am at earliest, and that would be way too late for me, as my assignments would mostly start at that time! So now i have breakfast at home. But yes, i do miss the occasional wonderful, sinfully delicious, cholesterol filled US breakfasts, like eggs sunnyside with bacon and homefries.,, Now can’t even get to NY to have one..

    4. AWWWW IS SOMEONE UPSET BECAUSE THEY’RE A NATIONALIST THAT CANNOT STAND IT WHEN EVEN ONE LITTLE NEGATIVE COMMENT IS SAID ABOUT THEIR COUNTRY?

      GET A LIFE C**T!!!

    5. Classic Dutch response… Be as direct and critical with others as you wish but have zero capacity to accept criticism and self reflect. No wonder the Dutch have an overblown sense of their own culture. 😂

    6. Florence, I’d rather you snd the likes leave.

      NL is very nationalistic and racist country especially against certain races. Guess what? Jews and even more so middle-east people are really hated here. It’ll take ages before these autochthones will condescend to speaking Dutch to you. You’ll almost never get accepted.

      On the contrary, if you’re a blonde Russian (woman much better), then they’ll embrace you and speak their ugly language even if you don’t want to. They perfectly realise that you ain’t Dutch, but you’ll have the f@ing click.

  1. WOW, A LOT OF NEGATIVITY HERE 🙁 WHY DO YOU LIVE IN THE NETHERLANDS? YOU THINK THE AMERICANS ARE BETTER? THATS WHY I DONT ACCEPT THIS IN MY GROUP I LOVE THE NETHERLANDS.

    1. it is very foolish to surround yourself with people with the same morals and attitudes. don’t you think you are putting yourself in a box?

  2. Love the way you say the Dutch don’t cook, while other Americans write they finely learn to cook everyday their own meal instead of getting fastfood or instant meals.
    But I am sorry to see you had a hard time to get any friends, think you really met the wrong people.
    Wish you well!

    1. Of course, I have a much different experience than most Americans. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where everything was cooked from scratch. I was making Jewish braided bread (challah) from scratch when I was just a child. Thankfully I have a great group of friends, all of them internationals. If you have any insight as to how to make friends with Dutch people, I’m all ears.

      1. You should make an effort to learn Dutch in order to socialize with more Dutch people if that’s your desire. Otherwise, every social interaction they have also has to account for being in English with you too and that’s difficult over a long enough period of time. Also, when corona blows over, go to expat events at cafes to practice Dutch where some of them have some internationally-minded Dutch locals. Some are running online programs that you could look into for now.

        I don’t speak Dutch very well yet either, but my Dutch friends all say they appreciate my effort to learn the language. I am a Master’s student, so it’s been a bit more organic for me to meet others at school. I understand even before corona it was hard to meet people and with corona, it seems impossible.

        However, we moved here to their country, so it’s not up to them to always accommodate us. We have to make the effort to accommodate ourselves.

        Your opinions will be those of you who you surround yourself with. It’s okay to only hang out with expats, but your end goal is to meet some Dutch friends, then you really should be trying to know the language and become more local.

  3. I’m from the UK and have been living in East Holland for 2 years now, and wow has it been such a culture change. I completely understand you mean no personal attack in this article, I can talk all day to my English family and friends over all the things I love about Holland, but I also love to discuss the cultural differences that sometimes make me go crazy and I will outright just never get use to. I enjoyed reading this, from someone in a similar boat…thankyou! Ps. I read an article not long ago about how Holland was rated the worse country for expats to make friends

  4. I love this. There’s a lot of negative on these comments but I see these points as a love letter to the Netherlands – maybe cos I’m English.
    I have lived here for almost 8 years with my Dutch wife and I would much rather live here than England but the points are still valid. Coming from London where you are good friends with your work colleagues and go drinking with them and know everything about them – this is just not the case here and it is something I really struggle with.
    I put the coldness down to just not taking any bullsh*t and just saying it as it is. Its a shock but you appreciate it better.

    For the working time is more prevalent at lunch and the end of the day – want a meeting at 12.01 – forget it! 5pm its like a stampede.

    1. “The coldness down to just not taking any bull***t and just saying it as it is” (?). I’m curious: so if a non Dutch person meets a person from the Netherlands who after either a short or longer time is regarded as displaying “coldness” even though the foreigner has shown warmth and is a good listener, that would be interpreted as the rejection of “bull***t” because it’s a Dutch person “just saying it as it is”?

  5. I am sorry that you have such a negative mindset. Honestly you won’t really enjoy living anywhere if you need to complain in such a petty way about things that do not matter that much. I am a foreigner like you (neither Dutch nor American), and I really believe you need to stop generalizing people and indulging yourself with your negative imagination. No one likes a complainer, foreigner or not!

    1. I do love the Netherlands. It doesn’t mean I’m blind to its flaws. I have posted many things I like about the Netherlands in this blog post and in others. Be sure to check out my other blog posts.

    2. Dude try and consider one of her criticisms for a moment. Why is it so difficult to get a Dutch person to accept one tiny small thing that might be wrong with their country?! Also criticism is how things improve too — things like “oh maybe we should vote rather than have an all-powerful Emperor” or “hey this slavery thing is pretty harsh hu?”

      Also Vincent, are you honestly not from the Netherlands (or perhaps Flanders), it’s a common name here? If you say you’re not I’ll accept it 🙂

  6. 5. Doctors Who Seem to Have Never Went to Medical School
    Please correct this.
    Doctor Who Seem to Have Never Been to Medical School’ or ‘to Have Never Gone’

  7. I’ve been living here for four years now, and I agree with everything you’ve mentioned. I also think you’ve actually been kind in the way you chalk things up to differences in priorities and values, as opposed to defects in personal character and culture. From the tone of the replies, it’s pretty clear that many of the Dutch are not worthy of the charity you’ve demonstrated. By the way, Florence and Carla, there’s a difference between having some negative opinions and hating a country. And given how the Dutch are always boasting about their open and tolerant society, maybe you should consider showing a little respect for peoples’ opinions, rather than telling them to leave because you don’t like what they have to say. If this were my post, I’d have to add people like you to the list of things I hate about living here.

  8. Holy shit.

    All I can say about this garbage. Where the hell do you get the audacity to write about a culture that you (quite obviously) barely understand?? Where did you do your research??? Can’t find good products in the supermarket? People are yelling at each other? People don’t kiss or hold hands in public..? SUGAR IN EVERYTHING??? This is just a bunch of random accusations thrown together for more then obvious click-bait purposes. To hell with this.

    1. I’ve lived in the NL for 7+ years and I must say there is a severe and egregious problem in regard to Dutch people (in general) dealing with any criticism about their country. The response is generally emotional, angry, or petulant. All criticisms are “explained away” , dismissed, or put down to foreigners being foreigners. Dutch people of mixed heritage are far less susceptible to this mentality but, yeah dude, I’m not agreeing with everything in the article but I have never been to a more insecure Western nation. It’s slowly changing but it’s a frustrating embarrassment living here sometimes.

  9. I love the way you say it, I don’t see why some people around found this insulting. Many of those have never being exposed to cultural adaptation/changes. I enjoyed it. It’s just acknowledging and pointing to the cultural differences and how it can become a struggle. I totally got your point. Take it from a Latina that LOVES the Netherlands and have found a home here after years of struggles.

  10. Wow Soreh, you have guts and lots of opinions. I am so glad that I have enjoyed many many years as an expat in different parts of the world without ever having to compare that life with my home country.

  11. Hahaha! That is nice)) #3, #4, #5 are totally match with my view. Paracetamol is a cure-all. Have you learn any other drugs at meed school?)))

  12. It’s funny because I’m pretty sure most of the negativity comes from dutch people. As a Latin living for over a year here I can second your article and 100% that all the expats I relate with would think the same.
    The one thing I think you are missing is micro-racism, in which almost every dutch falls out of ignorance .(let’s hope so). Exhibit A, the negative answers in this post.

  13. I am a Dutch woman, and i have to say that most of the things I’ve read in you blog, doesn’t remind me of the Netherlands.
    If i take a look in my circle of familie and friends, which is very big, no one is yelling. Every household is cooking with fresh products, everyone is always welcome to enjoy dinner aswell, they all love it when a foreigner try to learn Dutch. And they also don’t care about showing love in public. They love to meet up, but is has to come from both sides.
    I dont know what Dutch people you’ve met, but they are certainly not the typical Dutch people.
    Have a nice day 😉

  14. I agree with everything you’ve said. Especially that M-***kers are cold… in a bed) ha ha
    And, by the way, people from other countries bring variety in food to this country. Now you can find a huge selection of any food.

  15. I think it is a good article and you know what is the beauty of this article is that you are very DIRECT !! 🙂
    it is not an article which should be taken in wrong way and I can tell you that you are not the only one who experienced these things and perhaps if you find a way to connect with those people, You probably don’t give a damn about these things.

  16. hey Karina, ik ben het hartstikke met je eens ! ik ben ook nederlandse en woon nu in het buitenland, maar wij nederlanders zijn gewoon een speciaal volk, we zijn gewoon gewoon, direkt, zeggen wat we denken, wij zijn open, niet preuts en hebben temperament. ! idd, wij schreeuwen niet! ik hoor vd “buitenlanders” dat ze nederlanders goed volk vinden, ik hoor van iedereen positieve meningen. die amerikanen zijn anders als wij, en die denken dat ze hun land zelf hebben opgebouwd. groetjes uit Zwitserland

  17. I am Dutch and even though I did feel a little attacked when I first read the article, I now think of it as feedback and an article that was not meant to be triggering. I do think that some of the things you listed are purely subjective and reflect some of the people you have met rather than the whole Dutch population. For example, my family loves to cook and uses a lot of spices and fresh products and so do my neighbors and some of my friends. And also, I hug all my family members, (old) friends and other people I (sort of) know every time I see them (of course not atm, because of corona).

    The thing that does still bother me is the generalization and exaggeration in some parts. For example, of course there are people in the Netherlands that are cold towards others, but definitely not every one. Of course people sometimes eat bitterballen, but right now you make it sound like everyone eats bitterballen all the time and nothing else.

    I’m sure you meant no disrespect or hate towards the Dutch population and that this article was just meant to be read for fun. I still think it’s funny to see how other people experience the ‘Dutch way of living’ and Dutch people in general. I also did recognize myself in some of the other things you listed, like the sandwich obsession, the speaking english to people who are trying to learn dutch and the punctuality.

    And let’s be honest, I think almost everyone would feel a little attacked if they saw a post that listed things other countries/people hate about your culture/country.

    1. I am Dutch and even though I did feel a little attacked when I first read the article, I now think of it as feedback and an article that was not meant to be triggering.

  18. I’m Dutch but I lived abroad for 15 years in countries with an actual food culture, and I can fully relate to what you have written.

    Even for me as Dutch person it is extremely difficult to make new friends, having lost touch with most of my childhood friend. The food and lack of variety, indeed. In larger supermarkets there is more choice, but in cities the problem is of course that everything is Albert Heijn, and they have killed of most local competition.

    And since the Dutch don’t really value good food, they are not asking for more variety and better quality either. We are the largest exporter of food in the world, but we have also succeeded in producing it in a very efficient way, resulting in cheap, but low quality produce. From watery tomatoes to watery strawberries, the quality of everything in the Dutch shops is mediocre. The Dutch accepts is as they know nothing else and are not asking for better.

    On the other hand, how is the average American family eating? Lots and lots of processed sugary food filled with chemicals and additives that are banned here because of good reasons. You seem to compare the entire NL to the Wholefoods shopping segment of the US rather than the more regular Americans, who eat way more unhealthy processed,sugarry and pre-packaged food than we do.

    Regarding doctors/GPs. I get it, but somehow the system works. 9/10 of the people visiting a GP don’t have anything serious, the GP acts a gatekeeper keeping specialist available and affordable, and indeed there is the belief that painkillers are a last resort and a danger, rather than something to make profit off. That also means that if you do feel you need to see a specialist you need to be more Dutch and direct in your approach toward the doctor and demand it.

  19. I’m not even originally Dutch (though now I am)and lived in the Netherlands for 40 years. I have to say, Americans are not exactly liked in many countries due to their ignorance of others cultures and constant petty complaints. When m***fucking Americans travel they always want to bitch about others cultures. So what exactly is American cuisine? McDonalds? You guys hv no position to talk about others cuisine when you have the highest obesity rate in the world! Also, no PDA/holding hands? Which remote island do you live at? What’s for sure is The Dutch don’t annoyingly run up to strangers and try to hug or kiss them. That’s an American thing which most Europeans don’t like. Also, you’re complaining about some really petty crap. Like why would you care if Dutch go to work early, eat sandwiches or like hagelslag? How’s that even affecting or enriching your life? A few of your comments are true like punctuality but most of it is just stereotype garbage

  20. I am an Expat myself living in the Netherlands for almost years. Despite understanding parts of it, I found myself wondering if I am living in another country than you or maybe if I don’t live long enough in the Netherlands to find myself in your words.

    In the beginning I also found dutch people to be cold until I realized they are just being direct. Something that most definitely didn’t suit me in the beginning, but a trait that I learned to value. My boyfriends family and acquaintances (all Dutch) are very kind, lovely and also beside them, I always encountered Dutch people to be very open.

    Food-wise: I need to pay more attention as in the assortments of supermarket. Despite the much higher price levels, I find food very fresh and I cook with my friends all the time as well as if I visit friends’ families, there is always a fresh dish being served. Although, I often find food not spicy enough 😀

    Job-wise: I work full-time for a Multinational in Amsterdam and they insist that I don’t start before 9 and finish 5:30 the latest. I find that much easier than in my home country and very relaxed in terms of not working over time. Lunch time really is something holy and if you stay longer than 5, colleagues and even my manager always asked me what I am
    Still doing in the office.

    The micro-racism I did encounter though, which is very unfortunate but also not common!

    Overall, I believe that the Dutch people value if you try to adapt to their culture. They show huge appreciation if you speak or learn Dutch and just try to fit in. They are scared of losing their heritage and language, which I “kind of” understand or at least have sympathy with.

    So, I trielt hope you continue your love relationship with this beautiful country and that maybe, you find yourself mistaken with some of these points:)

  21. Dear Soreh,
    I am an expat living in NL for 10 years and I have to agree that getting used to the country was tough.
    But I feel that you have a lot of negative feelings about the country and your are generalizing your experiences to all Dutch people. I read in your bio that your bf is Dutch, how does he feel about it? Doesn’t this article hurt his feelings?
    I think you didn’t understand the Dutch culture yet. My view on the Dutch punctuality is that they respect each other’s time and this is very positive.
    Dutch typical culinary is not that rich, but that’s what Dutch brought elements from other countries, they cook very diverse at home and very healthy. Kids eat bell pepper and cucumber, raisins and oranges as snacks. Much healthier than American or Brazilian (my own country).
    To become friends with Dutch is hard because they already have their childhood circle of friends, but to get to know them try joint group sports or meetups.
    With regards to the yelling, I never saw a Dutch adult yelling (teenagers all the time, but I don’t count it). I am Brazilian and I had experience of being too loud with friends in restaurants and the Dutch people were completely annoyed by that, as this is not common to them.
    I hope you are able to process those feelings and start seeing those differences as cultural. You cannot expect to go to another country and find the exact same behavior from what your used back home. Give them a chance and allow yourself to emerge in the Dutch lifestyle. Good luck!

  22. I have to say I don’t agree! I have met so many nice Dutch people while staying here.

    We also have to keep in mind that as adults it is harder to meet friends in general. I volunteer with Dutch and other expats, and have had a really great experience. Because of covid we’ve only gotten together a few times, but I have met some really sweet Dutch people. Maybe try volunteering?

    I’m also not a huge fan of the supermarkets (mostly because I don’t like all the plastic on the veggies) so I mostly shop at markets or we have a Moroccan shop here that has different ingredients and veggies/fruit.

    Lol don’t shop where you don’t like to shop. Don’t hang out with people you get bad vibes from (like in America) and see different doctors. Try getting a different perspective.

  23. Hi there Soreh! I’m an expat recently arrived in the Netherlands and I must say that while I found your post interesting to read, it didn’t click with my experience of the Netherlands so far.
    We’ve been here two months and met some super friendly Dutch people (our neighbors) and felt integrated from the get go. Granted, we were introduced by our landlords who use to live here, and it definitely helped, but I think it’s also about the attitude – as a foreigner, I feel it’s on me to make the most of the effort. In the everyday interactions, I do agree that the tone is rough and it takes some getting used to. But they’re not yelling at each other constantly from what I’ve seen!
    Regarding the food, in Europe it’s normal to buy your produce or other delicacies at the market or in small businesses!! That’s where the best products are. There’s a lot of really, really good products here if you take the time to dig around. And I’m French, so trust me when I say I’m rather picky when it comes to food.
    That being said, I find some reactions here quite extreme – it’s very clear that you don’t hate it here, and you can love a country and still find some flaws to it. France is being trashed all the time around the internet and thank goodness I don’t take it personally… actually it’s sometimes very funny and accurate!!

  24. Hi Soreh, it’s a triggering headline for sure. I am guessing a lot of people don’t read some of the finer details in your post before they get offended or all freaked out. While I can totally relate to some of the things you say – what’s with all the bread and why do you speak to me in English when you say I need to practice my Dutch – I have to wonder where you live. Admittedly, I have been living in the Netherlands for 12 years now (AND LOVE IT), so I have had the time to develop friendships with locals (and non-natives too), so maybe I can’t compare myself to you. I suspect living in a larger city (or a small village), it might be harder to make the connections. Also, I made a lot of friends when my kids were in preschool and primary school here – many of these friendships continue now that my kids are in high school, so it can be an important outlet, especially if you’re arranging play dates etc. I also live in a small town in a neighbourhood with a tight community (and a lot of kids that were in and out of everyone’s houses all the time…there’s that kid connection again 🙂 ). Cultural adjustment is not always easy and I’ve had my fair share of ‘what’s with the Dutch doing x, y and z’ venting sessions with non-natives, (everyone needs a bitching buddy no matter where you live or where you come from, right?) but eventually I move on. The Dutch medical system requires some getting used to, but you’re also your own advocate and that’s important to remember. I think everyone has or knows someone who’s had a medical horror story experience, even living in other developed countries; even you pointed out that America is the one with the opioid crisis. It’s frustrating to deal with the gatekeepers when you’re trying to make an appointment to see your local doctor, but once you know how to navigate that, Bob’s your uncle. As for cooking, I consider myself a foodie, and some of the best home-cooked meals I have ever had have been in the Netherlands. My neighbour makes some of the best desserts I have ever tasted (and I have tried a lot in many years of travelling and living in different places) and he’s an excellent cook (vegetarian, and his repertoire is amazing), and the mouthwatering aromas that come out of people’s houses ahead of dinner time when walking through our neighbourhood are second to none. It does sound like you mostly loving it here. After all, you have a Dutch partner, so you certainly like some things about the Dutch. Living in a place where things happen that seem inexplicable or unrelatable can be frustrating, but it’s possible to find your way here. Some stuff about life here still drive me crazy, but I now I have peeps that I lean on when I’m going through a rough patch. Mostly I embrace that wise Dutch sentiment ‘Het komt goed.’

  25. I think people who haven’t lived in another country before just don’t understand that you can love a place but also just have things you really really dislike 😂 the coldness thing I really understand and had to adjust to! I’m South African and we’re a very ‘warm’ people.

  26. The dutch don’t like the arrogant and exaggerating americans, so that is why you have had all those experiences. Ofcourse all you have written is very far from reality and totally bull….

  27. As an expat living in the Netherlands for 4 years now, I can relate with most of the points and other expats I know, I am sure will relate too. Coming from Latin America, the hardest things for me have been making friends and the food. I found dutch people very gentle and helpful, but when it comes to having a real friendship is reaaaally hard.
    Regarding the food, I also don’t like having a sandwich every day. Sometimes I just want a warm lunch and in some places is really difficult to find. I think that’s why I started cooking more.
    What I totally agree with you is the terrible medical care here. At least the general practitioners are really bad. There is no preventive care and if you don’t get mad or show tests from your country they don’t send you to a specialist. My experience with the huisarts hasn’t been the best. I have had several urinary infections and they NEVER did an urine culture to know the reason. Also, once my right eye was really red and when I went to the huisarts, he started searching the symptoms lin a medical google, to know what I got. And didn’t even get it right. I know it because a week later I went to my country and did all exams there and the diagnosis was something else.
    I don’t know why many people got hurt with your post. The Netherlands is a great country to live, but off course not everything is perfect.

  28. I lived in the Netherlands for 4 years. Amazing country and a place that at times felt more like home than my home country. But lets be honest, all these points are true. I mean, I don’t get why everyone in the comments is so offended and tells her to leave (that’s ridiculous). Every country has pros and cons. Pointing out the cons doesn’t make her a bad person, this is just how many expats experience the country.

  29. Haha..Indeed a funny post. Yelling people in the Netherlands? Make Aaliyah and come live here in Israel and you will understand what yelling is… Same counts for: making friends and way , way longer workdays. Not to speak about the doctors that will let you diagnose yourself unless paying 250eu for a private consult. Enjoy living in nice and quiet NL and stop complaining like an Ashkenazi jew.

  30. This made me laugh out loud. I am Dutch and do recognize some bits. However, I beg to differ remarks regarding groceries and blandness of food. We have more diverse kitchen than you could imagine. The Indo cuisine (European-indonesian) is ingrained in the dutch culture. There are a more spice readily available here in comparison to the US. In regard to the Dutch being difficult to befriend, yes and no, we are reserved and tend to have a mindset of being really really yourself. I find that most foreigners think that we are cold, however it has mostly to do with trying to hard!

  31. I think your article is written with little respect for the Dutch. I find this very unfortunate. Your article comes across as arrogant. Maybe you want to learn more about why the Dutch live soberly? Wanting to have and be able to get the American way of life more and more and everything is precisely what the Dutch don’t like. Be happy with what you’ve got. The fact that you cannot get everything in the supermarket, but that there is also room for small businesses, fresh markets and specialty shops, that is very nice and makes life here so pleasant with lively city centers. We don’t need big supermarkets outside of the city center that have all the power here. Fortunately, we have livable inner cities.

  32. This is so funny. I am a Dutch women living in the US for 40 years and some dislikes you have about the Netherlands are the same I have about the US. You mention the obsession with bread/sandwiches. At lunch time in the US, even in the best restaurants ,the majority of offerings are sandwiches. They might be hot at times but still a sandwich. The obsession of Americans with hamburgers is quite a puzzle to me. Going to a great restaurants with a great menu and my friends ordering the hamburger.
    The thick pancakes or French toast for breakfast with syrup and bacon and no food value,..
    Dutch people being “cold” in opposite to Americans hugging everyone and ending their conversations with “love you, bye” still seems like a false sentiment to me.
    The Dutch speaking English to you is the consequence of the computer age. Even Dutch people email , text and post in social media in English to each other. Many higher education schools only lecture in English to attract foreign students etc .
    Early starting the work day is far more normal in the US often 7am and it’s normal for businesses to call you by that time.
    So every country has his weird rules and habits and you pick what you want to participate in or not . I was an international flight attendant for 39 yrs and the fun of it was the exposure to very many different culture and habits. It makes for an interesting life experience ,something to treasure and rejoice in. Viva la differance.

  33. Hi Soreh,

    So wonderful to find your blog and this post was the first I read as the title triggered me. I’m a Dutchie. I’m not offended by your posts. This is your experience after all. I do hope you get to see more sides and that, later on, you’ll discover that some of your posts were beginner experiences. Some of your experiences are surprising to me, like the one about finding it hard to befriend Dutch people, or the experience with doctors, and the yelling.

    Though I don’t have the same perspective I like reading about your experience as it is a way to learn about my Dutch culture, it’s like a mirror. By hearing it from outsiders one learns more about things that we as Dutchies don’t see, aren’t aware of, or don’t even notice anymore.

    I think it depends on where you started your Dutch journey, big city, small town, in the west, eastern part of the country. Living in Amsterdam is certainly different from living in a small town in Drenthe, for example.
    Did you have longterm experiences living abroad before you came to our country? I lived in the UK for a year (studying) and visited the US multiple times (to visit friends and my son went to university there).
    My experience from being in those countries, is that each country has its positive and negative sides, as well as people. I think your experience with our country and people will grow to be more allround the longer you are here.
    I’m appalled at some of the issues in the US (racism, poor medical system, no proper social security) but I know it’s part of the American history, and they way they want to shape their country. Yet, I still love that country and its people. Just like you do with my country and my people. Being able to live abroad enriches your life, fills you with new experiences, can make you a better person as you see things from other perspectives.
    Make positive use of your current situation. Continue to learn from it, and, by writing about it, continue to show us a mirror.
    Btw, sent you an email too…

  34. Hi Soreh,

    I had just finished a long comment to your post and posted it….but it doesn’t show up. so here’e my second try.

    This post was the first I read after discovering your blog. I choose this post as the title triggered me, and I was curious about your experience.

    I’m a dutchie and I’m not offended by your post. This is your experience so far and you’re free to write about it. Each country has it good and bad things, why would the Netherlands be any different. I was surprised by some things you mentioned though, like your experience with the medical system, your experience with befriending Dutch people, and the yelling…lol. Those were really new to me. I was dissapointed that you found it hard to befriend Dutch people.

    As these are your experiences so far I hope that, the longer you are here, your knowledge and experience of the Dutch culture,people and habits will become more allround. It may depend on the place you started your Dutch journey. Living and experiencing dutch life in a big city can be very different from living in a small town in Friesland, Limburg or Zeeland.

    As I’ve experienced from living in the UK for a year and visiting the US multiple times, that each country has its pros and cons, its good people and its bad people.
    In general I think living abroad broadens your horizon, even through the bad experiences, it enriches your life, makes you think more outside the box, makes you a better person.

    Embrace your experiences as you probably are, and continue to write about the weird, funny things you are experiencing on your journey, as that is like holding a mirror to our Dutch face. We can learn from your experience, as you can learn from our ways and habits.
    Btw, sent you an email.

  35. I find this an interesting perspective, being a Dutch GP. I am sorry you had a bad experience. I know the way we practice medicine is very different from that in the USA. These are largely cultural differences and also we are less driven by two factors that are very important in the USA: fear of litigation and monetary gain.

  36. I agree to most of these except that I find Dutch people nice and warm. Well, at least my Dutch boyfriend’s family and friends are nice to me. Maybe it is different when it comes to total strangers?

  37. This is hilarious… because it’s SO TRUE. The Dutch are basically PASSIONLESS, cold and unsympathetic. The first comment says it all: “Florence Materman – “If you hate the Netherlands that much. LEAVE!. I’m sure we can survive without you.” Yes, they sure can.
    I have lived here for 20 years (also an American, now ‘uitgeburgerd’ ha ha)… and I HATE it.
    You forgot to mention the legalized age discrimination, the violence (I have been assaulted here several times, including being punched in the ear — from behind — BY A POLICE OFFICER.) Someone once tried to run down my wife with their car….
    Oh… let’s not forget the slavery system (they call it ‘uitzendkracht’). What a SCAM they have going there. Wow.
    And oh! The whining if they don’t get to go on vacation 3 times year… it’s a cold rainy country full of cold people.
    I think the doctors went to medical school… they just don’t teach bedside manner here.
    An Oh the hypocrisy! This is NOT some kind of kind, socialist paradise… it’s a tax haven for the rich.
    This comment here from Bart van Herk “… we are less driven by two factors that are very important in the USA: fear of litigation and monetary gain.” WHAT A JOKE!
    MONETARY GAIN is ALL THIS COUNTRY IS ABOUT. ha ha ha. Tata Steel doesn’t pay any taxes… Starbucks doesn’t pay any taxes… but watch them come running to the government for COVID relief money….
    And boy oh boy do the Dutch like to CHEAT you if they can……
    Lovely country. Just lovely.

  38. Dear poster and readers, I hope you are all doing well. I rarely comment on the internet but this time I need to say that who ever wrote this is utterly, painfully correct. I have been living in NL for a long time and have to say that one of the worse things are Dutch hospitals and doctors. In the beginning I did not understand why it is so bad and now I know, the medical education system sucks. It’s mostly based on a problem based learning system which leaves students to know simply nothing. Yes, you read it correctly. Nothing. And one more time nothing, to the point that Italian, German, American doctors are hired. Yes, check the facts. If any Dutch person is reading this, do not feel offended.it’s true. In my personal point of view, other things are also correct, like not friendly people but sometimes you actually meet good souls. But they are few. Still they exist. I have made few financial investments in NL and decided to leave the country. I can benefit from where I am from a constant cash flow and just be glad. NL is a not a bad country, but mainly due to its history, its the way it is. I can relate to expats suffering in there for real reasons, not just the weather or bad food. I could cook meals by myself or prapare a good coffee. These are no big issues. Big issues are the way emergency patients are treated and (for me) it was an eye opener. People are people every where but if you could potentially loose your life cause your gp is crap, all the money in the world won’t give you a kidney or a heart. If you feel offended, check the facts. It’s a tragedy. This is not to say that in other countries gp are fantastic, but simply the rate of error in NL is crazy high. I have many friends with PhDs who teach in Universities, all foreigners, you want to know the reason? Dutch educational system also sucks in different ways. I am lucky enough to be able to leave. Dutch wanted me to stay, even raising my salary without me asking…but I simply refused. It’s painful to watch daily ignorance, I explained it and sadly it was understood. Some Dutch higher up, said to me that it would take at least 100.000 of me changing the system. So, super educated foreigners, you can do it! I simply gave up. All the best to anyone reading this. No offence intended especially for some (proud) Dutch person.

  39. the fact that there r so many dislikes show that how some of the dutchies cannot accept the fact that your country sucks in some aspects…but you failed to accept that.. after all there is a herd mentality in here (just be average or act normal things.. wtf even this means!!!)
    Having lived and worked in 5 diff countries, I could say NL was a failure in many points,
    happy to find a job in London and leave this crappy land…. no scenery no variety no sense of purpose and community. shitty rain all year round, and YEs its Swamp land …only crappy weather and outright directness (rudeness) by some people, simply its all show off in media..
    >>>> for all the young and adventurous ones don’t come here.. if u are expat like me (and experienced and talented individual).. choose Germany, France, UK, Ireland, Swiss..or Spain if you can.. coming to Belgium or Netherlands would not worth it at all…. not saying other ones have not issued but simply NL do not offer many opportunities for the ones who want to make a change and contribute to sth meaningful >
    go to the country where there so many resources available and you can thrive and prosper…. Im not against NL, but there is an opportunity cost for your decisions just don’t ruin your chances of living in a better environment…
    NL is so small yet has the highest population density. which means you have to compete for even basic amenities (finding a home, worthwhile job, respectable salary,..etc…) cannot forget took 3 weeks to find a suitable place to stay either in Rotterdam and even worse in Amsterdam…. and don’t even want to talk about the weather 🤐🤐…dark grey.. wet..rain…and gloomy people!!!!

  40. It’s a truly disgusting country with equally disgusting people. They are selfish, rude, narrow-minded and judgemental back-stabbing liars.

  41. This is hilarious I LOL! YOu speak from the heart. I love that. Please add me to your email newsletter list because i tried but there was a glitch.

  42. MY grandfather was exactly like this and my theory is, that he was a sociopath and i met more Dutch tourists in my travels to 70 countries exactly like him. I never met a more miserable hateful person than he was. I admired the tulips outside of his apartment in New York when i was FIVE And i said “they are so pretty Poppy!” and he said to A CHILD-“I only plant them so the dirty dogs don’t piss outside!” Jesus these people are psycho! Thank God I Am 88 percent Irish and he was only HALF Dutch but he got the personality 100 percent. HIs Irish mother was a wonderful lady so sweet. BUt that is how all of them I encounter are. Mean- spirited unhappy people. just like a lot of their German neighbors. THeir lack of emotion is terrifying I find they look like serial killers. I Am so joyful I do not understand evil people. Apparently the USA And the Netherlands are hotbeds for studies on Psychopaths. Google it. MY grandfather;s sole purpose was to spite people. AND I was in Amsterdam and i found a lot of the DUtch to be that way. WHAT Is THEIR PROBLEM?!!! I am so glad i did not inherit that miserable nature.

  43. Doctors who never went to medical school? This is pure slander and speaks volumes of the type of person you are. But foreigners/EXPATS; we are done with your whining and self centered bias.
    You are also cowards for speaking behind Dutch people’s back, go blame your anxiety..

  44. Hi Soreh,

    I want to thank you for the article. While I don’t agree with all the points you’ve listed, I don’t understand why this article is receiving so much criticism. I mean, everyone is entitled to have a personal opinion which, by the way, the Dutch themselves love to express, share and say they love honest feedback. Looking at these reactions I’d say the opposite….

    I spent 8 years in The Netherlands before I decided to leave this country. I did my master studies in The Netherlands in engineering and decided to stay since I got a very good job offer, later I changed 2 more jobs spending approx 2 years at each of them. Having lots of international experience, I can say the Dutch confuse me all the time.

    I’d start with your points I only partially agree or disagree:
    – healthcare isn’t bad. I had a wonderful GP who always referred me to right specialists when needed. Also, few times I needed emergency care which was fantastic. The doctor who took care of me and performed some tests even gave me her personal phone number in case I needed emergency again. Those were my very first days in The Netherlands and I didn’t even have a GP then, she was also very kind to me and explained the system. On a worse side, during my hospital emergency visit a blood test had to be taken. My veins are very visible and incredibly easy to ‘find’, yet the nurse had to try 3 times to finally do the test. This was really surprising to me!
    – food isn’t unhealthy. I know many Dutch people who love cooking, most of them being men. Generally speaking, I found the Dutch quite interested in what they it and how healthy their meals are. At home they mostly cook meat with some vegetables and potatoes as side dishes. Nothing unhealthy about that! But yes, they do love sugar, yet the people I knew were quite mindful about amounts of sugar they used to eat.
    – Dutch people do kiss. Dutch people kiss their family members or close friends every time they meet, both in a private setting or in public. It’s a Dutch custom. Hugs are popular among men since they don’t kiss each other when they meet. Unlike Italians, they won’t kiss their coworkers or people they don’t know very well. I personally was very fine with that, in Poland we don’t kiss at all and we hug our close friends, but not random people.
    – Dutch people can make loyal and warm friends when you get to know them better. It just takes more time but once they do, they’ll be super loyal to you, invite you to their family events and want to talk to you every day.

    Now the confusing part…THE PEOPLE. Oh girl, I don’t know where to start because this is the most confusing part. I can’t say I hate these things about the Dutch, but God I do find them confusing.
    – Bad manners. Forgive my comment, but the Dutch have way poorer manners than people from most of the countries I know. Maybe that’s due to the infamous Dutch practicality and total ignorance of niceties, but some things I’ve heard made me shake my head. For instance, it’s totally normal to discuss what kind of business you’re going to do in the toilet 🙈, burp or worse. Once a recruiter of a well-known Dutch company I was on the phone with was late. He explained to me that he’s a few minutes late to have this interview with me because he was in a toilet taking a dump. Whaaaat? I understand there’s no secret why we go to a toilet, but is this really a piece of important information for a job interview? It’s also a totally normal thing to say at dinner when you’re excusing yourself. Do you really need to be THAT descriptive? 😂 Ah, I also encountered a situation when two colleagues of mine were discussing a morning erection. Again, seriously? At work? During lunch? Why would you tell something like this to your colleagues in a business setting?
    – Weird communication with the opposite sex. I’m a friendly person who works in a men dominated field so I naturally bond with some of them. I became friends with one of my Dutch colleagues. At the beginning it was fun, we shared our life experiences, joys and struggles… Like in any normal friendship. Later he made his intentions clear and told me he liked me as a girl. I kindly rejected him and said that I was not interested in having any romantic relationship and I only saw him as a friend. He said he’s okay with that so we remained friends. His communication changed, he started bombarding me with messages, too much attention, calls, flowers, etc. Those times when I was busy and couldn’t reply or pick up and saw other friends or simply wanted my alone time, he used to become jealous as a child and accused me of not being interested in our friendship and not investing enough time. Seriously, our communication was getting weirder by day until I decided to cut him off. After I cut him off, he started sending me messages about me being not grateful enough for his support. I mean, we were only friends on equal grounds. As if I had to pay him back for something I didn’t know. Oh yes, by the way, he mentioned that he spent some money on buying flowers and a Christmas gift to me. I was deeply shocked by this kind of behaviour….
    – Living by the book. While in other countries I notice wider variety in people’s behaviour, the Dutch strike me as very homogenous. Everyone behaves pretty much the same. Most people eat dinner at 6-7 PM. Most people like eating the same type of food. All kids go to bed around 8. Most of the people appreciate living very well calculated, very predictable and almost risk-free lives. Hence the “doe normaal” saying… Try to be different and see that the approach of the Dutch towards you will change almost instantly.
    – Jealousy. Let me continue with my previous point. At my last Dutch workplace, I was getting great feedback, highest marks for my performance, etc. I decided to ask my manager whether I could go to Poland and work remote from there from time to time (a week now and then, not too often) since one of my close family members was sick. Important note is that this was before COVID. He was okay with the idea at the beginning and I did it once. So I’d been working from Poland for one week. My performance didn’t deteriorate, I shipped all my deliverables in a timely manner as always (actually, even before deadlines) and communicated with the rest of my team well. When I returned, the manager set a 1:1 conversation with me and told me I wouldn’t be able to do this anymore in the future. But why, I asked very surprised. One anonymous colleague complained to the manager and expressed his disagreement. Not that he was disatsisfied with my performance of something, no. He didn’t want me to do it because nobody else does it. Doe normaal. You have to be the same as everyone else and do the same thing as anyone else. I’m a manager of a high performing team myself in a different country. Always allow my teammates to work from different places from time to time as long as they perform. I don’t need them all to be the same, I want them to be motivated to perform…
    – “Why are you different from us?” I’m still on the same point here, too many experiences… There was this introvert Dutch colleague who didn’t like small talk and socialising with other colleagues. His way to avoid unnecessary talks was pretty simple, having lunch at company’s restaurant before or after the majority does it. Rumours started spreading that he’s an autist rather quickly, even the manager had a special meeting with him asking why he prefers having his lunch alone. Again, that guy was a high performer, nice person in general and good communicator when it comes to work related issues, who simply didn’t want company during his lunch. Why judge? It was his choice to have a calm lunch and read a book during a break. Why should one start spreading rumours that he’s Autistic? What happened to the famous Dutch tolerance?
    – One sided directness. Here is my very last point. The comments below this article is probably the best illustration. Dutch people pride their directness (a good quality, indeed) while they are often incapable to accept even polite criticism back from others. I know plenty of wonderful Dutch people too who are very open to other cultures and their people, warm and loyal. Kudos to those Dutch people, they’re the best! But please don’t get insulted when you read such articles or comments like mine. Ideal places don’t exist (don’t get me started of my homeland Poland, haha) and our experiences can vary. It’s just feedback that you’re supposed to love 🙂

    The Netherlands is a very orderly, regular and linear place to my point of view. It’s well functioning society, people live their lives as if they have to be built using one size algorithm for all from the book. So those are the reasons why I left the Netherlands for Poland.
    Career wise, I’m in IT and Warsaw is also a hotspot, in terms of money and purchasing power probably even better than Amsterdam. Anyway, I love variety. Here some people eat dinner at 5 pm. and some at 11 pm. Some kids fall asleep at 7:30 pm and some at 10:30 pm. My colleague doesn’t tell me I can’t go to Florence for one week to work remotely because of this doe normaal mentality. I can have small talk with my colleagues when I want to or I can sit alone all the time during lunch, I won’t be getting a meeting invitation from my manager to discuss why I do one or another. To me, the perfect country is the one isn’t completely perfect and Poland satisfies this criteria. I want a little bit of everything. Let’s put some salt and pepper on a country. The Netherlands functions amazingly well. Too well so that many people don’t have this passion in their eyes anymore and, like in many very well societies, people adopt this risk-free living mentality. It’s safe and great, yet too tasteless to me. I don’t want to live in a homogeneous perfectly made country. Poland offers me all types of weathers, landscapes, people, food, bizarre events and things, extremely beautiful peaceful places or extremely beautiful crazy places. However, I call The Netherlands my second home and I will always love that place and some of its wonderful people I’ve met, very beautiful places, amazing uni experience. I miss you too, The Netherlands.
    Best of luck building your life in The Netherlands, Soreh.

    1. Sofia, I really appreciate you taking the time to write this comment. Everyone has their own opinions, and that’s that. Why it is hard for me to understand as well, I have to respect that we are all different. I hope all is well with you.

    2. Well we all know the stories about polish people over here..and soreh you are a hypocrite, “everyone has their own opinion”. It’s not an opinion if you lie just for views and attention, it’s called clickbait, it’s unethical and immoral so if you want to improve something start with yourself.

      1. Have you tried considering criticism of the Netherlands without getting emotional or rallying counter-arguments before the initial argument has been read/heard/made? Try it dude it really might help with the next decade or so because, one way or another globalisation ins coming and it’s going to sting like hell unless you can take criticism of your own culture.

  45. Sofia — loved your story. It’s nuanced, it is on point and it addresses all the things I keep running into in Amsterdam. I used to think it was me you know.

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