As an expat in the Netherlands, one of the best things you can do to ensure you have a great experience is to fully embrace the “new” and integrate into Dutch culture.
The Netherlands has a unique culture and way of life, and it can take some time to adjust and integrate into the local community, but it can be done! Read on for our tips on how to integrate into Dutch society.
How to Be Dutch: 8 Tips to Integrate Into Dutch Culture
1. Be Open-Minded and Respectful
At the end of the day, for whatever reason, you are a “guest” in the Netherlands. It doesn’t matter whether you’re here temporarily or plan to stay for good; you’re still the one who needs to do the adjusting. So our first tip is to be open-minded and respectful.
Don’t expect things to be the same as they are back home; they’re not. As such, be willing to learn, adapt, and respect Dutch customs and their way of life.
It’s important to note that being open to “new” doesn’t mean you’re turning your back on who you are. Just think of integrating into Dutch culture as you learning and growing as a person.
2. Learn the Language
The Dutch language (Nederlands) is an important part of the country’s culture, so learning it will go a long way to feeling at ease in your new surroundings. Learning Dutch will help you connect with locals better, make daily life easier, and it will also help you feel more at home. You’d feel less like an outsider if you could mingle like the locals, and you wouldn’t miss out whenever they start talking Dutch!
There are many ways for you to learn the local language. You can sign up for language classes or practice with a language exchange partner. If you’re here for work, you can ask your Dutch employer if they provide (or support) Dutch classes.
Yes, learning a new language can be difficult. Mustering up the coverage to communicate in Dutch can be daunting too. However, here’s something to think about: if you’re hesitant to speak in Dutch, remember that they’re also getting out of their comfort zone to talk to you in another language. So, ditch the shyness. They’ll appreciate that you took the effort to learn their language and, as a result, be more welcoming and accepting of you.
3. Participate in Local Events
The Netherlands has a rich cultural calendar, with many festivals, open markets, musicals, concerts, and other events throughout the year. If you want to meet new people, bond with locals, or simply want a Dutch experience, check what’s on schedule where you live and attend!
4. Get Biking
Riding a bike is such an important part of life in the Netherlands. In fact, most people learn to bike before they even go to kindergarten (age 4)! Apart from being a healthy solo activity, biking can also be a means to socialize. For example, it’s not unusual for someone to invite others to check out a new place, and then they all just hop on their bikes. If you don’t ride a bike, you’ll be left behind.
Biking is also a great way to get around and explore your new environment (alone or with others). So, invest in a bike, learn the rules of the road, and go become a part of the local cycling culture.
5. Learn about Dutch History and Culture
For such a small country, the Netherlands has a rich history and cultural heritage. It’s no wonder that the Dutch are proud of their country and its many achievements. So, one way to integrate is to visit museums, historical sites, and cultural events to gain a deeper understanding of Dutch history and culture. It will open your mind, and you’ll have more topics to discuss next time you hang out with the locals.
6. Embrace the Dutch Lifestyle
The Dutch have a unique lifestyle, with a focus on work-life balance, socializing, and healthy living. So embracing these values can help you integrate into the culture and feel more at home. But when it comes to day-to-day activities, one of the best ways to adopt a Dutch lifestyle is to first observe.
For example, have you noticed the way they greet and say goodbye to each other? (You do know the “Dutch three kisses” by now, right?) Also, what do they usually eat? How do they eat? How do they celebrate special events like birthdays? So, observe, observe, observe. Afterward, adopt what you feel is right for you.
7. Build a Dutch Social Life
There’s comfort in connecting with fellow citizens in a new country. There’s also comfort in connecting with other expats because you have shared experiences. However, to truly integrate, build a Dutch social life. Here are some ways to do this:
- Befriend a Dutch colleague
- Got kids? Befriend the Dutch parent(s) of your child’s friends
- Join a gym and seek Dutch friends
Dutch friends provide many advantages. They help you improve your Dutch, you get automatically exposed to local customs and traditions, and you might even acquire tips on life in the country that you would not have learned otherwise.
8. Be Active in Your Local Community
What are you interested in? Do you like music, gardening, painting, watching movies, or sports? No matter what it is, there will surely be a group or organization in your area that you can join or help out with (volunteer). And that’s a great way to meet new people and get more involved in your neighborhood!
If you want to integrate into Dutch culture, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. But keep in mind that you’re mainly doing this for yourself. The Netherlands is a great place to live in, but how great your time here can be depends on you.