15 Things I never did until I lived in The Netherlands

1. Called people a whore (to their face). Ja, hoor!” “Nee, hoor!” “Momentje, hoor!” 3 months in, it still makes me chuckle every time.

2. Arrived at a party at 2pm and left at 6pm. It’s not strange at all to set a time when everyone has to leave your birthday party. (Could it have something to do with the fact that it’s the birthday boy or girl’s job to buy all of the food & drinks for the occasion?) Work in an office? You’ll also need to buy cake for the whole workforce.

3. Electrical work. Most rented Dutch houses/apartments come without light fittings… so you call an electrician, right? Wrong. You save money and risk your life by doing it yourself… no biggie 😉

4. Looked into other people’s houses… curtains are a rarity here, let alone net curtains! Nose away!

5. Cycled, everywhere! Just do it.

20140603-163158-59518771.jpg

6. Accepted ice cream topping as a breakfast food. Hagelslag (chocolate or sugar sprinkles) on bread (normally with lashings of butter). I still don’t do that shit… I’ll stick to my marmite, thanks!

7. Ate FrikandelNever again.

8. Ate hot food from a vending machine. The Dutch love all things deep-fried and hate queuing. A chain of fast food restaurants called FEBO solves these two problems in one, with their vending machine walls! More about Dutch deep-fried snacks.

Febo, Utrecht

Febo, Utrecht

9. Understood the difference between Holland and The Netherlands (but still say Holland). Hup Holland Hup. Case closed.

10. Called Boxing day “second Christmas Day” and Easter Monday “second Easter Day”. (Tweede Kerstdag and Tweede Paasdag.) Hell, why make up words when you can be super efficient and just add a 2 on the end? Similarly, the word for animals = dieren, pet = huisdieren (house animals). Is it actually super efficient though, or could someone not be bothered to come up with more words?

11. The lekker hand sign. Eaten something delicious? Frantically wave your hand at your own face. Read more about the Lekker hand sign.

12. Owned orange clothing. King’s Day, football matches, other sporting events… it’s a must. Dress head-to-toe in orange. The sillier the better.

Our King's Day accessories box.

Our King’s Day accessories box. Every proud Dutchie has their own orange collection.

13. Said kunt  without getting a bar of soap down my throat. (This actually happened, circa 1992. Bite marks in the soap after I used my “new-swear-word-of-choice” very loudly at my annoying younger brother. Of course, my Mum was standing behind me. Fail.) Anyway, here you can say… Je kunt  (You can) Kunt u?  (Can you? formal) and my personal favourite Kies mijn kant  (Choose my side) without so much as a bat of the eyelid.

14. Heard “fuck” on the radio at 9am. Swearing just doesn’t have the same power here. Motherfucker, Fuck You, Fuck Off: unlikely to cause any offence. Similarly, songs with swearing aren’t “bleeped” out like in the UK… There’s no Cee Lo Green – Forget You, it’s Fuck You. Same goes for Lily Allen. Really want to insult a Dutch person? Tell them they have cancer… horrible… but that’s Dutch profanity for you.

15. Had a calendar in my BATHROOM. Weird, freaky or just super-sensible? Where else in the house do you have time to sit and “do nothing”? Read more about Bathroom Calendars.

What have I missed? Anything else you’ve noticed about the freaky deaky Dutchies you’d like to add to this list?

Hayley x

You may also like:

25 Dutch Dingen – like Dutch bingo, but better! How many can you cross off the list?!

30 Amusing Dutch Words – do you know your boterham from your eekhoorntjesbrood?

328 comments

  1. 1)We dutch Tell When We go go the toilette and even what We going to do there.

    2)Stil 60 % of the population eats certain foods on certain days (Wednesday meatballs, Friday fish.)

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    1. 1Agreed, 2This is more likely to happen in traditional families or elderly people. I don’t do it myself and the same counts for my friends

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  2. I laughed so hard! This is so TRUE! When I read about the lekker hand.. I just.. I couldn’t stop laughing. We really do that! I thought that it was normal and everybody all over the world would do that, but they don’t! :’) And ‘hoor’ and ‘kunt.’ I never thought about that either, sounds so normal to me, oh men. This article cracked me up! Loved it!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Exactly! My grandmother once had her sister from canada over and her husband didn’t speak Dutch very well but he still tried. And then he tried to explain the had a little cut in his finger and couldn’t translate cut, so he ended up translating it like this: “Ik heb een kleine ‘cut’ in mijn vinger”. He basically said he had a little vagina in his finger XD

        Liked by 1 person

      2. for anybody who doesnt know, pik = penis in dutch (sounds like pick in english), kut = cunt/vagina in dutch (sounds like cut in english), etc

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    1. Hetzelfde geld voor vakje (klinkt in het Engels ook als iets anders):-). Toen mijn zoon (drie talig) dat woord voor het eerste hoorde, schrok hij zich een ongeluk:-).

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  3. My grandmother went to the uk with her niece and and they went to a babystore and saw a babybed and the dutch word for it is ledikant (pronounced: ladycunt) so my gran said out loud how she LOVED the ledikant only to realisemoments later when everyone starred at her with jaws dropped to the floor the prenounication meant a whole other thing. This to me is the funniest thing that could happen!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This article made me realise we are kind of weird. For us all those thins are completely normal but seeing it from a foreighner’s point of view is really funny :P.

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  5. nice misunderstanding hoor isn’t whore. The translation for whore is hoer. Ja hoor is more like yes of course (but then in a kind of bad way).
    There is one question have you already smoked some ‘wiet’ now you live in the Netherlands for a couple of years?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just great, I live since 2000 kn the NL, and still I wonder:
    – you invute somebody at any time to your place or to a reception (ore anything that likes on it) and you have ti iffer at first coffee!! Then later they want beer or wine…
    – nobody invites you to dinner… Never… You have to do that first and, twice and the eventualy you get invited to a cup of coffee…. (Sounds quite frustrated…)
    – kids first!! Second kids, third kids, and the the adults. I love that the Dutch love there kids, actualy I like this habit…
    – that was it for now

    PS: I live to live here…

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  7. When living abroad with my sister we talked about something in the small pocket of a bag. This pocket is vakje in Dutch and was completely misunderstood by our Finnish friend.

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  8. Hi Hayley!
    I’m happy you write such cool stuff over the Netherlands.
    I’m from the Netherlands myself and it’s always fun to see foreigners be all crazy about stuff we see as something normal, haha

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Just a few things that my friends from Canada really liked:
    Poffertjes (very small pancakes with butter and frosting sugar), all-you-can-eat wok restaurants, bamischijf(!), pannekoeken (dutch pancakes/crepes) and stroop (sort of maple syrup). And the things I tried to let them eat (but failed..) were: pannekoek with cheese, bacon, apple ánd stroop, and the usual dropjes.

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    1. When I was in Jamaica, I use to bring “dropjes”. But the children tell me it tasted like rubber,haha. They could not explain to me how they knew what rubber taste like, L.O.L. (But also there’s “coconut-drops” in some stores, wich is little pieces of kind of candy/sweetie made of ginger and coconut)

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  10. very funny 🙂
    If you need a job done by a professional then you will definitely need a ‘fuckman’ (vakman). I can’t say it without laughing. Or dog breeder: hondenfokker.
    When I first arrived I told my partner dinner wouldn’t be long because I’d bought ‘fast cooking’ (vast kokend) potatoes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not true, only the parents if it’s a child’s birthday, or the spouse,when it’s the others BD.
      It’s more common to introduce yourself to the people you don’t know at the party and say hi (with 3 kisses (which I find too much)), to friends and family.

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  11. That reminds me, one of the first time I took my English mother-in-law to Holland (I am Dutch) we went out for coffee and cake. She could not get over the word Slag(room) ta(a)rt!, the slag and tart made her chuckle and she is normally a bit posh!,

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  12. i am sitting here, reading these pages that makes me smile but than i get to the comments and i have stop doing that, man, too funny…..
    Oh, and stroopwafels are loved by everybody, if i have to go abroa d(most Russia) i have bring them. If i don’t bring them …well…let’s just say that it is not appreciated. Same goes for my Italian Colleagues by the way. Oh, you must try vla. One of my German Colleagues sometimes drives about 8 hours to the border just to buy vla.

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  13. Wooow so true! I have one more thing!!! Birthdays!!! Everyone sit in the kring, on the chair… Booooring… And say all the best not only to the one who’s birthday it is but to everyone!!! And you have to give 3 kissess… To everyone even if you dont know those people…… 🙂

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    1. About the traditional Duthc birthdays: I remember Spanish friend explaining Dutch lifestyle to his relatives in Italy: “their birthday” he said ” is something like our funeral, but without a deceased”

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  14. Omg I love this blogpost! I’m from the Netherlands and I didn’t realize all of this! This is the first post of you I read and I just love your style. I’m definitely going to follow your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love this post! Some additions:
    -Buying tickets for a party 6 months in advance and in a few hours they are sold out. And for that matter, having things already on my calender 6 months in advance!
    – Trying to cross the street by a pedestrian crossing only to almost get hit or sworn at by cyclists. 🙂
    – Always eating a cold lunch that involves bread
    – Cycling in the rain or snow
    – Looking on an app to monitor the clouds and estimate the best time to leave the house

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  16. My boyfriend and I met people from the UK in Tenerife… We had so much fun and decided to play mini golf.. Only in the Netherlands we call it midget golf! They laughed so hard about it.

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  17. I was pregnant with my second child when we moved to Australia. When shopping for baby furniture at Ikea in Melbourne I found a lovely cot and wanted to tell my husband (we are both dutch) who was standing about 20 meters away from me at that moment and cried;’ Oh,kijk eens! Dit is een mooi LADIEKANT!!! (ladiekant, pronounced as ladykant means cot) ….I did not make friends that day 😛

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  18. I found out that some Dutch expressions don’t make sense, when a Danish colleague who was learning Dutch couldn’t figure out what ‘tussen de middag’ meant. Literally translated it is ‘between the afternoon’… Actually it means ‘at noon’.

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  19. Love your blog!
    I did what you did but the other way around: I’m a Dutch girl / woman who moved to the UK and stayed… Your observations of the silly Dutch language and culture seems to match my (English) husband’s.

    As for examples of funny Dutch words/expressions, how about “onderonsje”, a “little under us” (a conversation) or “alle gekheid op een stokje”, all craziness on a stick?!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. More like small town Dutch life, in Gouda, Almere or Hoorn. In Amsterdam and rest of Ranstad people party from 2am to 6 am, very wild, and combine bagels with rijstafel for breakfast. All other things, except for “fiets” are more small town staff (but not country side, judging by FEBO). I dont know why he thinks that Dutch rental apartments come without electric fittings

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  21. How about a really existing name of someone in Friesland, who is called Fokje Modder. Can you imagine when she wants to enter the USA, at immigrations and they ask her how she is called?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. 😀

    “What have I missed? Anything else you’ve noticed about the freaky deaky Dutchies you’d like to add to this list?”

    perhaps under 13:
    If the Dutch have a “klit” (knot) in their hair, they use a “kam” (comb,pronounced, yep, cum) to get it out.

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  23. Here is a true story. We went to holland in the wintertime and our son age 9 was ice skating with other children. He told me all the children kept asking him the same question. “Wat heeft je vader voor een vak!!!!!” He ran home most disturbed.

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  24. I lived in California for 18 months. In many stores and offices I was welcomed with Hi Love or yes honey. One should not try this in the Netherlands. Reply would be: Im not youre honey. You idiot.

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  25. And Chocolate hail is not the same as chocolate sprinkles here in Australia, that is really sugar, you don’t taste any chocolate. But the Dutch chocolate hails is Chocolate. that is the difference. And it taste a 1000 times better. 😉

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  26. My non-Dutch friends made me realize that congratulating other people (especially parents, siblings) on a birthday party, for the birthday of their loved one is actually really weird. And really Dutch.

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  27. Don’t forget the birthday parties. You have to introduce yourself individually to everyone there and give three kisses. There could be 50 people so that’s 150 kisses. And when you leave you have to do it all again.

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    1. And donn’t forget to mention that you have to congratulate ( gefeliciteerd met ….) all those people who you won’t even know with the birthday of …… (the one you came for)

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  28. #2 – Not typical Dutch. In the US, you’re also expected to sod off after a while.
    #13 – Not sure how you can pronounce these two words (kunt, kant) the same way. In Dutch they are distinctively different.

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  29. It’s not just us…. the French are even worse… I had my French boss tell me that he “had a growth plan — you must focus”
    It sounded like “I have a gross plan — you must fuck us”

    Liked by 1 person

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