Expats find it tough to befriend the Dutch



An online survey carried out by rtlz.nl and Dutchnews.nl with 1,123 respondents (including myself) revealed to anyone who hadn’t heard this before that expats find it really difficult and even ‘almost impossible’ to make friends with the Dutch, and tend to stick with other expats, which doesn’t help them integrate.

Many expats in the Netherlands come from Germany and England, two thirds of which are men and have an average age of 34, often considered an age at which people already have their groups of friends. An additional explanation is that since many expats don’t stay for long (three to five years), the Dutch won’t bother making new friends with people that won’t be there in a few years.

Work remains the number one place to make friends and sports clubs, the second. In fact, the Netherlands is often compared to a big sports club you need to be a member of in order to integrate. And of course learning Dutch will also help any expat loads, although when everyone around them constantly switches to English, it’s a major obstacle.

Rtlz.nl brought up a nice cultural example, which was if a Dutch person invites you over to their place at 8 pm, many expats expect it to include dinner because many of them eat at 8 pm or later, like the Spanish. The unwritten rule is that the Dutch eat at 6 pm and have had dinner, so don’t expect a meal. The funny thing is, the trains are full of Dutch people not eating dinner at 6 pm, so I dare say this unwritten rule needs to go. I was recently invited at 8 pm by Dutch folks, ate dinner before I came over and then was unexpectedly served dinner again because they wanted to accommodate the non Dutch folks, but hadn’t told anybody. I guess communication is key, but let’s call it an improvement for both sides.

(Links: www.rtlz.nl, www.dutchnews.nl, Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)

1 Comment »

  1. P4UL says:

    Well being a Dutchman and former expat (I have been an expats for 8 years -EMEA, Russia, Americas-)I would like to comment on this article:

    In Holland business and private is strongly separated. Don’t ask me why, but it is. I am very sociable, but almost never end up with friends from the business. When I go to parties of friends, I never meet their colleagues either. So in case you are an expat, your main social group is work. You need to go to other social activities to create ‘new’ friends.

    When you are around 35, your social group in terms of age is very busy with raising children. Both men and women have a second job when they get home. It they have some time and energy left they prefer to spend time together or with other family and friends. When you get the chance to meet them at the gym, they want to consume ‘their’ time at the gym and go home to change some diapers…

    Where do you meet us and make friends? Choose a teamsport or else badminton, tennis (avoid fitness, martial arts). Take dacing lessons like (salsa, WCS, bachatta, kizomba), and go to social parties. Go to 30up parties and reach out. Yes, tell them what you want! If someone feels good, do not wait, but ask. We are very verbal communicators and the more your approach is clear/open, the more we like you.

    The Dutch say what they do and do what they say!
    When a Dutchman invites you to his house, for dinner, you’ll get dinner.
    If he invites you to his house for a drink, you’ll get drinks!

    Usually when I invite new people to my house for dinner, I always ask what they won’t eat (health, religion, etc.)

    If it is unclear, simply ask. We are very communicative people and very hard to insult.

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