Let me tell you, making friends in the Netherlands is hard work. Believe it or not, it’s like a chore. I have never in my life ever had to work so hard to make friends. To make matters worse, we are in a freaking pandemic. I feel for you people. I moved here before the pandemic, but the struggles never stop. Met a Dutch person, had a good conversation, and thought you’d be friends? Wrong! You’ll be lucky if you ever hear from them again. The truth is, every country has its own way of socializing, and the Netherlands is not the easiest place to make friends.
Making friends isn’t only hard because you have to find people to make friends with, but it’s also hard because of the process. It’s like dating. Meet someone, have a drink, and call it a night. If it went well, you might talk again. If not, you gotta find a new person to do that with. Not once, not twice, but likely many more times. It’s tough people. I went through it, so I get you.
Dutch people are very nice. They are kind and generous people. They are just not that open to making new friends. I kinda get why Dutch people don’t let new people in. It takes too much energy. I used to be so excited when someone new messaged me asking to meet up. Now that I have good friends, I actually think about it. Is it worth it to invest my energy in figuring out if the person is going to get along with me and fit into my life? I’m going to share how I made friends here, and hopefully, that’ll help any of you who are struggling with the same thing.
Reach Out and Take Initiative
I know this isn’t easy, but reach out to people. Who? Well, everyone and anyone in all those expat Facebook and Whatsapp groups you’re a part of. I’m sure there are plenty of people struggling to make friends. Are you not comfortable enough to message individuals? Post a post telling everyone a little about yourself and that you’d like to meet like-minded individuals. Before all the strict rules, I hosted a dinner at my home and actually made friends with some of the people. Read about it here.
Respond and Participate
If someone messages you or posts in the group about meeting up or something, join! I always just said, oh, I’m not in the mood. Or, it’s too far. Or, I’ll meet so many people I probably won’t like. Is it really worth it? Yes, it is dude. It’s so worth it. Who knows, maybe you’ll finally make a good friend. You’ll never know.
Meetup & Airbnb Experiences
I regret that I didn’t do this, so that’s why I’m so adamant that you do. There is an app called Meetup. The app is for like-minded people that join events together. You can pick your interests and join different events/outings in your area. The same with Airbnb experiences. Obviously now isn’t the best time for this, but it hopefully will be soon. There are plenty of zoom events going on. Just go on Airbnb or Meetup to see what virtual events/classes you can join.
Talk to People Around You
Talk to anyone and everyone you encounter. Talk to your barista, your dry cleaner, your grocery store cashier, your bank teller, your friend’s friends that you meet, your train conductor, and so on. It might take you talking to 50 people to make 1 friend, but that’s 1 more friend that you didn’t have before.
Get a Hobby and Join a Group
Not during the pandemic, join a group like running or playing chess, if that’s your thing. If you have a hobby, then that is the easiest way to make friends because you can just join a group. This advice comes from a Dutch person himself, my boyfriend.
Socialize at Work or School
Don’t be afraid to ask your classmates or colleagues to hangout to cook dinner together, watch a movie, take a bike ride or whatever. You might get a bunch of people that say no, but someone will probably say yes.
I know it’s hard to make friends here. It took me ages to do so. But I finally did. I could have made friends much sooner if I actually put some effort into it. I thought that I’d make friends so easily as I did in the USA. But it doesn’t work like that here. You’re not going to make friends if you don’t put yourself out there. It’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth. And yes, it’s annoying to meet like 50 people to make 1 good friend, but it’s worth it. Your life is here now, and you deserve to be happy. Most people are happy when they have friends.