It’s an unavoidable inevitability when living abroad, away from your own culture and language: after a certain amount of time, you realise you’ve started to adopt some habits and customs from your new country. Or perhaps – even worse – you don’t realise you’ve changed until you finally go back to visit family and friends in your home country and they point it out to you!
From planning social activities weeks in advance to relying solely on your bike to get around, here are seven tell-tale signs you’ve been Dutchified.
1. You use the word “Tikkie” as a verb when you’re out with friends The Dutch are known for, well, going Dutch whenever they go out and enjoy a meal or some drinks with friends. Thanks to the joys of modern technology, when it comes to splitting the bill at the end of the evening, you no longer have to muddle through the awkward (and occasionally complicated) maths that goes hand in hand with having to pay.
Thanks to Tikkie, one person can pick up the bill and easily and quickly (i.e. immediately) send a link around to everyone, letting them know precisely how much they owe and allowing them to effortlessly make the payment. Honestly, it’s difficult to imagine what everyone did before Tikkie came around – and chances are if you’ve been living here for any length of time you’ve also come to rely on the platform whenever you’ve enjoyed an outing with friends or colleagues.
2. You cycle everywhere – literally everywhereBefore moving to the Netherlands you might have thought the stereotype about Dutch people loving their bicycles was just that: a stereotype. But after only a couple of minutes in any Dutch city or town, you’ll quickly realise that this is no rumour – it’s pure fact. Whether you were someone who enjoyed a leisurely bike ride back in your home country, or someone who literally had not even considered travelling on two wheels since you were a child, the reality is that at some point you’ll likely realise cycling is the best way to get from point A to B quickly (regardless of the weather). Plus, it also happens to be a cheap and sustainable form of transportation!
The only problem is now, you’ve kind of forgotten how to travel anywhere if you can’t bike. Bonus points for if you’ve transported a suitcase, piece of furniture, or another large and unwieldy item through the streets via bicycle!
3. You use an agenda and plan social engagements waaaay in advance This is another Dutch habit that likely seemed completely wild to you when you first arrived in the country and realised that if you wanted to meet people and make friends with the locals, you had to be prepared to wait ages before they had space for you in their busy agendas. It’s a bit of a running gag, but if you want to plan a dinner party or a night at the cinema with a friend, you’ve just got to accept that it won’t be happening for a good couple of weeks (if not months).
One sign you’ve truly gone over to the dark side and fully integrated into the Dutch way of life? You too use an agenda to plan out all your social and work commitments, and when someone texts you to ask if you’re free for coffee, you enthusiastically inform them that yes! You are – in four weeks’ time.
4. You keep track of birthdays using a calendar that’s hung up in the looIf you’ve had to use the toilet in the home of pretty much any Dutch family, you might have noticed one rather unusual piece of decor: a birthday calendar. Even in the age of smartphones and wifi, people across the country still generally like to keep track of loved ones’ birthdays using a nifty calendar, that they choose to display in one part of the house that they are guaranteed to use at least once a day.
What’s even better about this custom is that the calendars will regularly be accompanied by a pen or pencil, so that any guests can also take the time to add their own birthdays to the calendar.
5. You know that the perfect lunch is always a sandwich Let’s face it, the Netherlands certainly isn’t known for its rich cuisine. In fact, the thing the country appears to do best when it comes to food is pretty much anything that can be deep-fried. Of course, it’s hard to turn down a bitterbal, a broodje kroket, or a portie friet, but unless you’re one of the few internationals living in the Netherlands that loves herring and stamppot, the country really doesn’t have much to offer – aside from the humble broodje, that is.
You might come from a country that traditionally enjoys a hot meal at lunchtime, but after spending some time living in the Netherlands you could very well find yourself lusting after a sandwich packed with your favourite fillings. On your lunch break at work, instead of heading to the nearest restaurant for a creamy plate of pasta or a steak, you’ll pop round to your local supermarket and make the agonising decision between cheese and filet americain.
6. You know the difference between Holland and the NetherlandsIt’s certainly something many expats have fallen victim to (whether it was before they made the move or just as they arrived in the Netherlands): referring to the Netherlands as Holland. Now, it’s an honest mistake to make, and many around the world probably wouldn’t even realise it’s a mistake in the first place! However, one sure-fire way to know you’ve spent a significant amount of time in the Netherlands is that, not only do you now know the difference between the Netherlands and Holland, but you’re more than happy to explain said difference to anyone who isn’t as familiar with the geography of your new home.
Is it annoying? Maybe. Is it useful information to know for your next pub quiz? Definitely!
7. You own a frankly worrying amount of orange clothes and accessoriesIt may not be the most beautiful or flattering of colours, but the reality is that orange is the national colour of the Netherlands. While this is a great way of ensuring that you’re always able to recognise the Dutch competitors at any sporting event, it also means that if you’re hoping to get involved on King’s Day or during the next World Cup, you will have to deck yourself out in as much orange as you can stomach.
A guaranteed side effect of living in the Netherlands is that you now own at least a couple of orange-coloured clothing items and accessories, packed away in a bag or box in a wardrobe somewhere in your home – and this collection will only continue to grow.