Just like with every other country, the idea that internationals have about the Netherlands is often based or at least influenced by a lot of stereotypes. Some are cruel, some funny and some are just complete nonsense. But quite a lot of them are (kind of) true and they can be explained. So if you’ve always wondered where some of the weird stereotypes (or the weird habits they’re based on) come from or whether they’re true, you’re about to find out!
If you’ve been in Utrecht for a few days, you’ve probably noticed that no one is wearing clogs. In my opinion, it’s because they are quite ugly and uncomfortable. Still, the idea of wooden shoes and the Dutchies is common in a lot of other countries. But why?
To be honest, we used to wear wooden shoes, but it was ages ago. They were mostly worn by farmers or labourers. Clogs were popular because they offered good protection. In addition, some people claim that if you know how to walk on them, they can be comfortable. Nowadays, the clogs almost completely disappeared from the Dutch street scene. You won’t come across a pair in the city, but maybe you might spot a single farmer wearing them in the countryside.
Bikes, bikes, bikes!
This one is kind of inevitable: Dutchies travel by bikes a lot. This stereotype is true. As you can see in Utrecht for yourself, there are bikes everywhere. And we feel very comfortable riding our bike: most Dutch people don’t have any trouble transporting two or maybe even three people on a bike. Some people ride their bike while eating breakfast, using their phone or being drunk. First of all, this is a very bad habit and it’s definitely not something you should do yourself. But there is a reason why we ride bikes so much and why we feel so comfortable doing it. The Netherlands is a very flat country, (almost) no high hills or mountains to be seen. This have always made it a good country to ride a bike. And because Dutchies have been doing it for so long, everything and everyone is accustomed to it: there are a lot of special bicycle paths, especially at busy roads. Special traffic lights are also no peculiarity. In addition, all the motorists are aware and cautious.
Be on time
When we meet up with someone, we like to arrange a specific time for this. And we never arrive late, right? Well this is kind of true. In the Netherlands, when your professor says class starts at 11 a.m., it will start at 11 a.m. And if you’re invited for a job interview, the chances of getting that job if you arrive late are probably not so big. But I know a lot of Dutch people who can’t manage to come on time. When you’re meeting with a friend, it’s not weird if you’re not their at the exact time you said to meet up. Five or ten minutes after that is fine, but at most occasions it is considered rude to leave some waiting for much longer.
Dutch people are greedy. This is one of the stereotypes I hear the most. We even make jokes about it ourselves. Is it true? Maybe a little, little bit. I can spend quite some money sometimes and I don’t mind paying for someone else every now and then. But it is quite common to ask someone to repay you after you’ve lent them some money. Even when it’s a small amount. It’s also considered normal if you take the initiative to repay someone, so they don’t have to ask you for it. As for “Going Dutch” (every person paying for their own drinks and food in a restaurant or café), I don’t really like it. It’s annoying for the staff and it’s much easier to pay it all at once for yourself too (and ask the others to repay you afterwards, of course 😉). But it is quite normal to do here.