Though it is a small nation by size, the Netherlands is known for its multicultural environment and pluralist society. The Dutch are a unique breed with some extremely special quirks about them that are adorable, to say the least.
Bicycling is a national obsession
Gasoline is an extremely expensive commodity in the Netherlands. Maybe that is why the Dutch took to bicycling with such enthusiasm. The remotest and smallest of towns in the country have an immaculate bicycle infrastructure complete with separate lanes and parking facilities, making it highly convenient for the citizens to move around on these two wheelers. While couples bicycling together are a common sight, don’t be surprised even if you come across pregnant women on bicycles with two other children and a pet, also carrying groceries riding through peak hour traffic rather nonchalantly.
Some things are not so personal
The Dutch are mostly willing to discuss their personal affairs openly, but are very secretive about their salary. So much so that it is considered rude to discuss one’s salary in the first round of a job interview. Startlingly personal questions like one’s birthday, marital status, one’s plans about childcare, feelings of wife and children about the new job will all be asked without any hesitation, but discussing pay package (at least unless is brought up by the interviewer) is seen as unacceptable.
Egalitarian and self-serving
The Netherlands is known as the ‘self-service’ society. They try and manage most things themselves and therefore tend to be organised. This also means that it is a completely non-hierarchical system and it is frowned upon to display any feeling of superiority towards those serving you, in retail shops, call centres and every other place of business, even if you are paying for the service.
The love for ice-skating
The Dutch show great love for watching long track skating during the winter. The favourite outdoor activity of the people of the Netherlands during the winter is to go staking when and where there is a thick layer of ice on the waterways or the lakes. If you happen to spend a winter in the Netherlands, you must join the millions that go skating on the ice.
Dealing with conflict
The Dutch generally see themselves as an egalitarian society treating every one equally and dealing with situations in a fair way. No situation gets more importance based on anything but urgency as per the law of the land. Thus, abstain from seeking preferential treatment based on anything that may be misconstrued. Instead, state the facts of your case and wait to be treated accordingly.
If you do not agree with an official, employee of a store etc., do not ask to see a superior immediately. In most cases, the superior will apply the same rules the staff member applied and will support his staff. Instead ask politely for a way to appeal the decision.
Bribery is seen as a taboo in the Netherlands. If you wish to show gratitude for a job someone helped you complete, send them a card or a very small gift preferably after the work has been completed.
If you belong to that part of the world that has ketchup with its fries, this will be the first strange habit you’ll encounter in the Netherlands. Like most countries in Europe, fries (also called chips – which is thicker and less crispier than the fries) are served with mayonnaise.
The Dutch attitude to food, especially in the traditionally protestant regions, remains rather puritan. Typically, only one hot meal is had daily at dinner, and both breakfast and lunch consist of simple sandwiches.