It’s a big issue for lots, if not most expats in the Netherlands: befriending Dutch people. Loneliness is never a good thing, as we’ve all felt during the pandemic, so here are LearnDutchOnline.nl’s golden tips on how to become friends with Dutch people!
Adapt to people
Although other blogs might advise you to be ‘an open book’, this is not a good idea at all when it comes to befriending Dutchies. Why? Because, even though we don’t like to admit it, lots of us have lots of prejudices on ‘others’ and don’t actually give away too much when we don’t really know someone yet. Of course, everyone is different. That’s why you need to adapt. In most cases when you don’t and overshare it might just come back to you and bite you in the *ss. All the while you don’t actually got to know the people you are trying to befriend.
Just start low-key, ask standard questions and see how your target Dutchie reacts.
If your victim smiles regularly during multiple meetings, shows interest by continuing the conversation and with body language – then you have a 99% chance of befriending this person. Or even more. Questions, in Dutch, you should ask are:
- Hoe gaat het? / How are you?
- Hoe was je weekend? / How was your weekend?
- Wat heb je in het weekend gedaan? / What did you do in the weekend?
- Zullen we samen lunchen/koffie drinken? / Shall we lunch together/grab a coffee?
- (after a while) Hoe voel je je vandaag? / How are you feeling today?
- (after a while) Wat vind jij leuk? Wat zijn je hobby’s? / What do you like? What are your hobbies?
- (after a while) Zullen we wat leuks doen deze week? Heb je tijd? / Shall we do something fun this week? Do you have time?
Showing a healthy, enthusiastic interest will do wonders in most cases in the Netherlands. Dont’ fake it though and definitely don’t exaggerate. Smile, be genuine – and you’ll be rewarded for it for sure.
Learn Dutch to get closer to Dutchies
this one is actually pretty obvious, right? If you learn the language of the country you stay in or move to, logically making friends will be alot easier. Tip: do it simultaneously! Make Dutch friends and ask them to teach you Dutch while getting to know eachother. This will be extra interesting to your new Dutch friends, as they probably don’t have anyone else in their lives they can be friends with and teach their mother tongue to at the same time. Unique selling point!
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You can then agree on doing an intentional exchange of your respective languages and culture. This way, you really enrich eachothers live – as friends should do anyway. Besides, the Netherlands has alot of catching up to do when it comes to real diversity and inclusion. So this is a very fitting exercise for lots of us Dutchies as well.
Be open minded (but only to other open minded people)
Being open minded is considered a great characteristic in the Netherlands. But not everywhere and not with everyone. Unfortunately, lots of people in the Netherlands want to appear open minded (just like we like to say we’re very ‘direct’) and probably also think they really are. But reality is we are not. Lots of Dutchies are only open minded when it ‘fits their street’, meaning when they don’t feel (too) threatened by your views, person and/or personality.
I can hear you thinking: but that is not open minded at all, it’s the opposite! Indeed, it is the opposite. But is it really that strange, given the fact that we as a country are only now, very slowly, coming to terms with our extremely racist, backwards colonial history? Not to mention the hidden sexism that finally showed its ugly face very recently..
Nope – to find real open minded people, you have the best shot in the big cities, with Amsterdam definitely taking the nr. 1 spot. The city is probably the safest for LHGBTQ+, non-white Dutchies and internationals of all sorts. It’s a city where you can connect with the world, on the deepest levels, in a single night. Yes, we are definitely talking from experience here – LearnDutchOnline.nl originated in beautiful Damkso (nickname of Amsterdam) after all and we are forever grateful for this. Love Amsterdam forever!
Do you enjoy reading about how to become friends with Dutch people? Why not continue reading here, about 15 reasons why Holland is a great place to raise kids?
To give some examples of how Amsterdam stands out from the crowd in the Netherlands:
- It was the first city to ban the racist character of ‘zwarte piet’ (= black pete, the blackface ‘helper’ of the Dutch version of Santa Clause)
- It was the first city to acknowledge Dutch colonial history and slavery (most of the canal houses in Amsterdam were owned by previous slave owners)
- It’s an absolute melting pot, especially outside of the center, with people rooted in almost 200 different countries living there
- It has a gay monument in the city center
- It has museums that publicly distanced themselves from the racist past of Holland and organised (permanent) expositions on these dark pages from Dutch history (for example ‘het Tropenmuseum’, click to go to their website)
Amsterdam is not perfect, but despite what haters say, the city is the capital one for a reason. Based on the above points alone you can conclude it’s the most progressive place of the country. It’s furthermore leading in terms of sports, culture and creativity. If you’re a writer, poet, rapper or actor – Damsko is your place to be. Even Dutch slang, now spoken throughout the country (although a bad copy in most places ) comes from the streets of Amsterdam.
Learn about Dutch culture, national pastimes, food, sports etc..
Most Dutchies like to either watch or play soccer in their pastime. However divided the country might seem during normal times, when the Dutch soccer team plays during a championship, the country suddenly unites wearing everything orange. Drinking, joking, being absolutely dry – that’s the way to go then. If you want to make Dutch friends quickly, figure out if they’re into football and arrange to watch some games together. Bring drinks, some food maybe – and you’ll probably be set. If you’re smart enough to bring some real Dutch snacks, you’ll definitely win points!
If your target Dutchie is not into football, chances are high this person is into hockey or tennis.
Some of us watch nearly all the sports on tv – everything from the Tour de France to running people on the other side of the world.
If sports don’t work out (pun not intended), Netflix will most likely save your shot at being friends with a Dutch one. No – don’t go for netflix and chill right away, but just strike up a conversation on the Flix and before you know you’ll be hanging out and enjoying a good show together. Go here if you need some ideas for good stuff on Netflix, from which you can also learn some Dutch!
Walking (with or without a dog) is also quite the national pastime in Holland.
Walking thirty minutes daily can do wonders for your physical and mental health. Combine this fact with all the beautiful, fresh green that the Netherlands offer, and you don’t have to wonder too much on why we Dutch folks like to wander around so much.
Some of us also just like dogs, and combine our daily or weekly walk with letting our best friend out. Asking to go for a nice walk, especially during the sunnier parts of year, can get you a Dutch friend exponentially fast. During the walk you’ll have plenty of time to practice Dutch and get to know eachother. You’re also holding eachother accountable at the same time. Win-win-win!
If you haven’t heard of ‘terrasje pakken’, you really don’t have any Dutch friends (but now you know, you probably soon will). Literally it means ‘grabbing a terrace’. It simply means going out for a drink, sitting outside in the sun, on the (half) terrace of a café or restaurant. If you live in the big cities of Holland long enough, you probably noticed this phenomenon already.
It does help if you can speak some Dutch if you want to join Dutchies in the ritual of terrasje pakken. Still, don’t hesitate: start with one Dutchie, get accustomed to this typical Dutch sunny weather pastime and build it up from there.
Yep – a good old barbeque is also in the Netherlands a great occasion to improve existing relationships or create new ones. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a Dutch one, you’re either already considered a friend, or definitely 80% there. All you have to do then is show up, bring your best behaviour and smile with you. And enjoy!
If you’re not invited yet, why not organize a BBQ yourself? It’s a great way to get to know Dutch food and culture, and great to get to know your colleagues for example. Pro tip: organize it with a Dutchie. Don’t know a Dutchie to organize a BBQ with yet? Well, now you have a great reason for talking to ALL your potential Dutch friends: you need someone to arrange a BBQ with, and tell you how to fry those damn kroketten!
If all of the above doesn’t work out, you can always go for the universal social bonding activities of grabbing a bite together or going to the movies, theatre or comedy. Obviously, all of the above activities can – and will, trust us – be combined as well. Especially during the holidays and vacation here. Freedom!
Something to add to this LDO article on how to become friends with Dutch people? Let us know! Don’t forget to follow LearnDutchOnline.nl on Instagram for regular updates, special discounts on Dutch courses and give-aways. Also: the best Dutch memes on the web. Fijne dag nog!
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