Sun. May 19th, 2024

This morning, international bachelor students had to be in class early to hear all about Dutch culture and how to deal with it. Rob van Leeuwen from the international office had put together a lecture with tips, trics and even a quiz. But they weren’t the only ones who learned something. Here are some things that our – very Dutch – reporter did not know about The Netherlands and its culture as well.

The concept of ‘Dutch directness’ is backed by science

Dutch directness

In a book from 2014, professor Erin Meyer published a series of diagrams that show what countries are comfortable with ‘low context communication’ and ‘high context communication’, and which are ‘confrontational’ and ‘avoiding confrontation’. Van Leeuwen shows the diagrams on the screen. They show that The Netherlands is among the countries that are most fond of ‘low context communication’, together with the US, Australia and Germany, among others. This means that the Dutch like precise, simple and clear communication. On top of that, repetition is appreciated if it helps clarify. This could be strange for students from, for example, Asia, Russia or even France, the diagram shows. They are more comfortable with ‘high context communication’, meaning they speak sophisticatedly, their communication is layered and nuanced. They read between the lines more.Also, the Dutch are confrontational and do not mind open confrontation. Again, students from Asia might have to get used to that the most, but within Europe, students from Sweden or the UK might also be a little unfamiliar with this confrontational nature.


Culture shock occurs not at the arrival, but a few months later

Cultural Shock when moving to another country - EMTG

Getting used to a new culture can feel like a rollercoaster, a lot of emotions are part of it. Van Leeuwen says the students who arrived just now, are now in their ‘honeymoon’ stage. They are still very excited about everything they see and like everything. The o ther stages are ‘Anxiety’, ‘Adjustment’ and ‘Acceptance’. One of the best tips to get through the ‘Anxiety’ stage, especially when you are here for a longer time, is learning Dutch, says Van Leeuwen. This is not easy, but will help you to get in touch with your surroundings and feel less isolated.


The Kingdom of The Netherlands is actually much more complicated than it seems

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Aad van Dommelen – 1998 – Total  Identity #totaldesign #totalidentity | Kingdom of the netherlands,  Netherlands, The netherlands

Ok, this is not completely true, most Dutch people do know that it is more complicated than it seems, but still it is weird to be reminded sometimes. Van Leeuwen shows a video that explains clearly why The Netherlands is not the same as Holland, what our provinces are and how exactly New York even got to exist (yes, thank us, Americans!). But when the video gets to the Kingdom of The Netherlands, that also include Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten as independent countries within the kingdom, and Saba, Bonaire and Sint Eustasius as cities in the country of The Netherlands, it gets complicated even for the Dutch in the room. So if you want to impress some Nijmegen local at a party, look at the video a couple of times and casually throw your knowledge into the conversation.

Apparently, the Dutch fry more than usual

When Van Leeuwen asks the students what they found striking about their first few days, the answers vary from ‘people say hi and smile at you’, via ‘cheese’ to ‘you guys fry everything’. Usually, when we think about frying, we think about Asia, or the Scottish, who sometimes put Snickers in a frying pan. But the students were very clear about this: the Dutch fry food and they love it. Especially the ‘friet kapsalon’, that contains fries, shoarma meat, cheese, garlic sauce, sambal and sometimes a little lettuce. ‘You can eat it before you drink and you don’t get drunk,’ one guy in the room says. ‘Or after, and you don’t get a hangover!’



By Lala