The Dutch are... Dutch. And their way of living their lives may differ from yours. The video above will give you some insight in the Dutch culture, but there is more.
- Dutch Culture
Because you are seen as an independent student, teachers will inform you of the material to learn but leave the specific planning up to you. Assignments might come with few instructions and will leave space to choose your own approach.
Honesty is highly valued in the Dutch communication style: avoiding losing face plays a less important role. As Dutch society is quite individualistic, Dutch students prefer to show the class how critical they are, rather than strive to being loyal classmates.
The Dutch eagerness for group discussions and strong opinions might make your first presentation a difficult experience. Keep in mind that if a professor or fellow student 'burns' your ideas in public, it's nothing personal. Likewise, you are expected to have a critical mindset, so questioning your fellow students, professors and people in senior positions on study-related issues is encouraged.
Your Own Opinions
‘Having your own opinion’ and ‘being critical’ are important values for Dutch people. Students do not need to master all existing knowledge before formulating their own opinion. When writing a paper, summarizing information from other authors will not be sufficient. You will have to make your own selection of available sources, develop your own line of thinking and include your own conclusions and/or recommendations.
Rules Are Rules
Dutch society runs on rules: individual exceptions are rare. Trying to get a higher mark or request an additional re-exam will easily irritate your teacher. The same rules apply to all and aim to guarantee fair and equal treatment of everyone.
For more typical Dutch behaviour, have a look at the section about Dutch Student & Teacher interaction.
- Dutch Language
Even though most Dutch people speak English, you might want to learn Dutch during your stay. To learn Dutch, you have a few options.
TCP Language Centre
Exclusively for our UT students, the TCP Language Centre organises Dutch courses for which you can sign up. More information can be found on the TCP Website.
MOOC: Introduction to Dutch
Would you like to start learning basic Dutch before coming to the Netherlands, or do you prefer to do some self-study before you join one of TCP's courses? Register for the new MOOC, 'Introduction to Dutch'. Registration and participation is free of charge. More information can be found on the FutureLearn website.
Hoi Holland! App (availble for iOS and Android devices)
How about you learn some Dutch while playing a game? This new serious game, Hoi Holland!, is your first step towards mastering the Dutch language. Hoi Holland! shows you how much fun it can be to learn Dutch! By playing Hoi Holland! you will learn some basics of Dutch: understanding and speaking Dutch makes everyday activities, such as grocery shopping or going to a restaurant, a little easier and more fun. It will also help you to connect with Dutch students and make new, Dutch friends! More information and download can be found on the Hoi Holland! website.
- Traditional food
Traditionally, Dutch cuisine is fairly modest. Dutch breakfast generally consists of tea and sliced bread, which is eaten with cheese, thinly sliced cold meat, or jam. Lunch is much the same, with the possible addition of soup, salad or fruit; and for the evening meal potatoes and other vegetables, together with meat or fish. Vegetables especially are plentiful, of high quality, and quite cheap if you buy those in season. Typical Dutch dishes are erwtensoep (pea soup served in winter), Hollandse Nieuwe (fresh salted herring) and stamppot (steamed dish of potatoes, vegetables and meat/sausage).
- Changing Tastes
Dutch tastes have become increasingly international: rice and pasta dishes are now almost standard fare in most Dutch homes. You will find imported tropical food, vegetables and fruits in many shops. Tropical ingredients can be found in oriental grocery stores called toko. Some butchers take religious rituals into consideration (Islamic, Hindu or Jewish) and some sell food products from Turkey, Morocco and Surinam. Convenience foods are increasingly available. Some of this can be rather unhealthy, but it does save time and it also costs less than eating out. Typical Dutch convenience foods are friet or patat (fries), eaten with a meat snack (kroket or frikandel). Supermarkets sell instant meals of all sorts and sizes.
- Restaurants and takeaways
In addition to the popular Chinese-Indonesian and Cantonese restaurants and takeaways, there are many relatively inexpensive grill-rooms, pizzerias and pizza express services, serving Italian pizza, Turkish shoarma (Mediterranean meat sandwich) and various Greek dishes. You might pay anything from €8 to €12 for a simple takeaway meal. A simple Dutch main dish in an ‘eating pub’ (eetcafé) or bistro will cost approximately €20, excluding drinks. Chinese takeaways are less expensive.
Feel like going for takeaway? Visit Thuisbezorgd.nl for an overview of takeaway restaurants in the area.
The Netherlands has a temperate climate with gentle winters, cool summers, and rainfall in every season. With the North Sea on its doorstep, Dutch weather can be quite unpredictable. In wintertime (December to February) there are some days of frost and you will probably see some snow. However, the wet and windy winter cold can be penetrating. If you spend a winter in the Netherlands, by about March you will understand why Dutch people talk so much about the glorious sunshine of countries to the south, and why the minute that spring arrives they run out and turn their faces to the sun every chance they get.
In summer (June to August) there are usually a few fairly hot days. In the months between, the temperature will vary from about 5º to 15ºC (40º to 60ºF) in the course of the day.
- Daylight savings time
Daylight savings time starts on the last Sunday in March (clocks is set forward one hour) and ends on the last Sunday in October (clocks are set back one hour).