On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Lesson 2: The Dutch Mentality

The second lesson in my intermediate Dutch class covered Dutch mentality. From news articles reprinted in my book, I learned that the Dutch admit to being: stingy, penny-pinching, know-it-alls, conceited, not very nice, rude behind the wheel of a car, really blunt, and they can't stand in lines. I've only really experienced the last two, but the rest are very common complaints from expats.

On a day-to-day bases, my interaction Dutch people is limited to retail workers. As with any place, if it's a cheapy shop, the staff usually could care less about helping you. If it's an exclusive shop, they're snotty. Generally, in between people are friendly and helpful.

They are still obsessed with their rules and policies however. I recently ordered paper products that were supposed to arrive within a week. After two weeks and a trip the the US had gone by, I called to see where they were. The first thing out of the clerk's mouth was, "Did you receive a call that they are in?" "I don't know. I was out of the country for a week and we don't have an answering machine." "Well they would try to call you several times." "Can you just check?" "Fine." Brief silence. "No, they're not here yet." "Do you know when they'll come in?" "No. You must wait for the call." I also got an incredible lecture from my dental hygienist on the proper way to brush my teeth. She kept saying over and over, "you must do it this way."

I will say that the Dutch are at least introspective about their society. Whereas we Americans are largely oblivious to our attitudes, especially when they're not positive. For instance, Americans are widely considered to be insincere when we're polite, and people are never sure if we mean what we say. B- received a handout about American culture when he first arrived for his Master's degree a couple years back. The paper warned newcomers not to believe us when we say things like, "we should get together sometime" as we're probably only being polite. This begs the question, how polite are we being if we say things that we don't mean all the time?

Anyway, I leave you with the following sentences from my latest Dutch lesson:

1) She often pays attention to her money.
2) When it's 5:55pm at a store, they are not going to ask if they can help you.
3) The Netherlands isn't very spacious.
4) They often leave the country for vacation.
5) Dutch people are well organized.
6) Foreigners are impressed that the Dutch can speak many languages.
7) Foreigners don't always laugh at Dutch humor.
8) A sexy Dutch woman doesn't shave.
9) Americans sometimes mock Dutch tolerance.
10) Dutch people are fairly stingy.
11) It stinks of dog poop here.
12) Some Dutch people lie about their salary.



Blogger Reid said...

I've heard that complaint before that Americans say things that "we don't mean", but it's not really true. There's a difference between saying something you don't mean, and saying something that you would like to happen, but you know isn't going to. That's where the "we should get together sometime" thing comes from.

And maybe is the Southerner in me, but I prefer people to be fake nice than genuinely grumpy and distant.

5:09 PM GMT+2

Anonymous redsnapper said...

And now you can also say ...

A sexy Dutch woman stinks of dog poop.

If you need to.

2:49 PM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a Dutch girl I want to reply to this blog, because a few of your remarks are untrue.

a) Dutch woman in general shave everything, from armpits to legs to down under. It is not done here, certainly among younger women, to not shave. We think it's repulsive.

b) It doesn't stink of dog poop here, unfortunately some stupid people free their dogs in public places, but the general opinion is that it is impolite to not clean up the mess your dog made.


3:16 PM GMT+1

Blogger akaijen said...

Hi Desiree,

Actually I didn't make those comments, they were sentences that we translated from the book in my Dutch language class. Of course even my teacher thought the sentences were nuts, and I think they're in there to be amusing.

I have no clue about shaving, but I will say that my neighborhood in the Hague was overrun with dog poo. It was quite awful, though if it smelled at all we were used to it. :)


3:25 PM GMT+1

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Dutch colonized the world and US tried but never succeeded.
So polite not polite Dutch are very nice people and not really sincere .

Americans are just superficial particualry when coming from California. amercians are jsut too thinking about their own interests and they are so ignorant about many things that do not add direct value.
in other terms they are stupid ( with all respect to the exceptions...

9:16 AM GMT+1

Blogger akaijen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:56 PM GMT+1

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived my whole life in that country, now living in Australia for ten years, i must say its a shithole. Small minded, formal bunch of pussies.
They freak me out. I never felt good in that country and i'm glad i escaped.

8:32 PM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived my whole life in that country, now living in Australia for ten years, i must say its a shithole. Small minded, formal bunch of pussies.
They freak me out. I never felt good in that country and i'm glad i escaped.

8:33 PM GMT+2

Anonymous Tess said...

To be honest, I also harbour a stereotype against Dutch people. Yeah, most of them are stingy. I remember once in an international party, we are required to take some food and drinks and then share with everyone else. But the students from the Netherlands only drink and eat what they have brought by themselves and did not share their stuff with others.
I don’t know whether it’s stingy, or maybe 'smart' is more accurate to describe their behavior. They tend to classify everything clearly, esp. in terms of money. That’s why we have the English idiom Pay in Dutch or Let’s go in Dutch.
it's also true that Dutch people can speak many foreign languages, esp. they speak English very well. so you don't have to worry about language barrier when travelling in the Netherlands, but you may need some help in translating Dutch documents, esp. legal and financial ones.

4:13 PM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dog poo in the Hague is definitely an issue that needs to be dealt with. It's everywhere and very disgusting!!!!

1:58 PM GMT+1

Blogger topintown said...

I am a Dutch man.. and yes I agree with you all that we are stingy. and some of us just too much stingy that I myself can hardly bear it...
Let's ge back to the Dutch history... " where the stingieness came from?.." The courtry had been made from the see, we had nothing.."
For thousand year it still remains in our cultures and habit..)
Its nothing tobe proud about stingieness even the country is so rich now.

8:54 AM GMT+1

Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha this is kind of funny to read, and yes Tess I also reckon the food sharing thing could be difficult for dutch people since (especially with foods) we have a tendency to stick to what's familiar to us. (Wat de boer niet kent dat vreet ie niet = common saying in dutch which means exactly that haha) As to the sharing part, I think it could also be a bit of shyness, it's easier to offer what you brought along when someone offers you what they brought first ;) we have loud mouths sometimes, but small hearts.
I think every nationality has their up and downsides ^^ personally I love being dutch, despite my stingyness hehe <3

2:59 PM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god, I have never seen stingier than Deutch not all of them. My husband have been contacted by an old friend and he came to stay with us for a week, at rhe beguining they said 3days. We were feeding them and they relax in our house in the swimming pool, they never go to shop to feed themselves they wait for us to shop. One day we went to the beach and we stay all day, I brought some pizza for my kids they eat this with us, at 6 pm we thought they will invite us to a restaurant but they want us to go back home at 8:30 to Kroc for them, so we told them we don't have any thing at home so they say ok do not worry about us, so they ate in outside and they didn't invite us. The day after they felt we were not happy and my husband told me I make a red crosse on them but I continue to cook for them as I don't want to do the same thing for them as they are in my home. The worst thing is the wife of the guy never want to help just to put the plates on the kitchen. I felt terrible that my husband know people like this and a friend who take advantage of him. A lots of things about them really shocked me like rudeness to eat and not help. On the beach we brought chaired for them that you can fold, they look at us struggling holding things and don't want to move a finger to help us, LOL experience to not mix with those people .

11:27 AM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cook, folding chaires. Be careful if you are nice. And generouse, Deuch take advantage of you, advice from me.

11:33 AM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband is in shok from his Deutch old friend, he couldn't believe how stingy he is even his kids are adult and have a good career and we have 3small children . I don't want to live like Deuch, they don't have honour, cheep thinking, life it is not just money. Thanks god we are generouse and we feel happy to offer.

11:42 AM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dutch are cheap and thieves - they will bleed you dry. They think that being respectful, nice, classy, polite or intellectual equals being stupid. The national Dutch habbit is to rip decent foreigners off. Abuse is normaly here. Domestic violence against foreign women by the Dutch men are very common. Run away from here as fast as you can!! My Dutch ex husband even tried to steal money from my family abroad - he is the typical white highly educated Dutchie from a family w/ MBAs!! I hear nothing bad sad and distressing stories from foreign women here who used to be beautiful, full of life beofre they came here. Now tehy are being treated as slaves and maids. I happened to me too. The Dutch think this is normal how foreign women should be treated...The motto of the Dutch is " Suffer until you die...".

10:30 AM GMT+1

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think, anonymous, that men do not differ from each other or at least, Spanish men (for instance and what's close to me)do not have so much difference with Dutch men in that sense. Actually, it is all what patriarchal societies have taught us. Spanish women are also used by men from their own country and some of them are well emancipated and have their own lives and men even go on living from them and I do not mention in detail Latinos because they are even worse. Women maintain them because they are cheap and they do not want to work. In general terms, I coincide with you but I would say that it is not only something that involves Dutch men exclusively.

12:20 AM GMT+2

Blogger Jatinder Singh said...

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12:22 PM GMT+2

Blogger Jatinder Singh said...

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12:23 PM GMT+2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha what a stupid pathetic low life woman, so just because your junkie husband steals does not mean the rest of the country does the same. Making up bs about sexual intimidation in on of the most emancipated countries is beyond pathetic, but that is you.. a salty, generalizing woman who probably dies alone full of misery.

11:51 PM GMT+2


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