A workshop on how to act like a Dutchie
How to get through to those 'stiff' Dutchies?
Among all the workshops available for freshers from abroad on Welcome Week, a student from Belarus picks "How to Act Like a Dutchie". So far, Utrecht has left a good first impression on her. "I'm glad that I've found a room and met lots of nice people, so I will not feel lonely. But I've only come across other international students." Curious about how to best approach Dutch students, her choice of workshop was a no-brainer.
A crash curse on Dutch culture
This crash course on Dutch culture starts with a few common statements: that the Dutch are direct, honest and often seem less excited about stuff than people from other nationalities. The main advice is not to let that get to you: it's not personal, just a different way to express themselves. Someone raises their hand. "So, if I approach a Dutch person, is it rude to ask if they have a room for rent?" This person seems to be using the famous Dutch directness to their advantage. No wonder, given how hard it is to find accommodation in the city, especially if you're a student from abroad.
The workshop also explained a few Dutch customs, so even Dutch people could learn something from it. Keeping the curtains wide open while living on the ground floor has to do with the country's Calvinistic history, for example. International students were also warned that things tend to be a bit less spontaneous here: don't be shocked if you invite a Dutchie to go out for dinner and they pick up an agenda and tell you they'll only be available in a month's time. Sure, that doesn't help when you're trying to make new friends right now, but that doesn't mean it's impossible, either. After that, a British student is happy to hear that the Dutch love complaining about the weather. "I think I've found my people!" she jokes. "We do it all the time."
Making friends with the Dutch will "happen in due time"
Polly, an English student of Political Science, was already familiar with most of the workshop's content. Both Polly and Paula, a Colombian student of Sustainable Development, are relieved to have found a room, as the search was pretty stressful. But, to some students, it offered an opportunity to meet Dutchies too. "A friend of mine got her room thanks to one of her contacts on Hinge, a dating app!"
The two students are hoping to make friends with Dutch students, although they haven't had much success so far. "But that will happen in due time, once classes start." They are both planning to join their respective study associations and a student association. "Otherwise, I'll do it on Tinder," says Paula with a laugh.