Typical Dutch: ‘Gezellig’

What surprised me most after I made some Dutch friends: they really know how to have fun.
Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek

Dutch people are hard workers but they also know how to have fun. That`s what I have discovered since I moved to Wageningen. Before moving to the Netherlands, I had the wrong idea that Dutch people were very serious. That`s true when they work. However, they concentrate their working hours so they can finish early and enjoy their free time. It was very difficult for me to adapt to that because as an Italian I always had a long break for lunch. Then I started to follow the Dutch routine and now I too have a lot of hours left to do sport and see my friends.

The Dutch may be serious but they know how to make an evening ‘gezellig’

What surprised me most was what happened after I made some Dutch friends. They really know how to have fun. I felt part of their group immediately as they asked me a lot of questions about Italy. Even in Covid times with no parties allowed, they know how to make an evening ‘gezellig’ (like cosy but there`s no real translation). You need just a few friends, some beers and sometimes a board game called Catan. They also love cooking together and I have been introduced to traditional Dutch dishes like Boerenkool, a typical winter meal of mashed potatoes with kale.

I want to conclude with an anecdote. This week I wanted to buy a big Christmas tree from a market gardener just outside Wageningen. My Dutch friend said: ‘Don`t worry! We don`t need a car…we have a bike!’ She put the tree on the basket of her bike and cycled through a storm holding onto the tree with one hand. Dutch people really do everything by bike.

Marta Battistel, MSc Biology from Italy

Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to resource@wur.nl and earn twenty-five euros and Dutch candy.

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