Cultural shock

Dating a Dutchie

A couple holding hands
Photo: Pexels

If you are not dating a Dutchie, have you ever wondered what it would feel like to date one?

It is not a secret that most international students find it challenging to engage in conversations with Dutch students. Sometimes it feels weird to be an international person in the same exact classroom as a student who spent his entire life in the country you have just started to discover; nonetheless, some Dutchies love to befriend internationals and discover different cultures. I have been dating a Dutch boy for three years now; we met in Germany on a sunny day in August 2020, and after I moved in with him I started pursuing my bachelor’s in the Netherlands. Dating a Dutchie can be fun and crazy at the same time: the more time I spend with him, the more I get cultural shocks.

My first cultural shock was his eating habits: Dutchies usually have sandwiches both for breakfast and lunch. I used to make fun of him for having peanut butter sandwiches all the time, but now I am slowly turning into a sandwich eater myself.

Secondly, I noticed Dutch people do not usually engage in cuddling or kissing with their significant other in front of others. My boyfriend, instead, has always been a cuddler and holds my hand in public or kisses it whenever we are sitting next to each other; we have been told by other Dutchies that “we ought to be the touchiest couple they know”. I did not believe them until I saw my boyfriend’s cousin and his girlfriend, who barely touched each other whenever all of us were hanging out. In Sicily, it is super common to be cuddly in public with your friends or partners, which is the reason why their behaviour felt weird to me.

Third, the bill. In Sicily, people will literally fight for paying the bill, as everyone wants to do it. “Tonight it’s on me!”, “No, I am paying, end of discussion!”. The classical trick Sicilians use to pay the bill is pretending to go to the toilet and stopping by the counter to pay in the meantime; Dutchies just Tikkie each other. No fights, no screaming. Silent paying and Tikkieing after. I must admit, I prefer the Dutch way more, as it makes me less uncomfortable and saves me a lot of stress.

Last but not least, the biking culture. In Sicily, barely anyone bikes, as we do not have biking paths and cars will not stop for you if you need to bike in the stress; in the Netherlands, biking is surviving. My boyfriend would literally bike for forty minutes each morning, regardless of the weather, to go to school when he was a teenager. Then forty minutes to bike back home. I am struggling to bike five (yes, FIVE) minutes to reach the gym near my house. And I usually skip when it is raining, or the wind is too strong. What can I say? I am weak.