Typical Dutch: Important ‘dis’ words

Two important 'dis' words play an important role in Dutch life.
Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek

When I started on my Master’s at Wageningen University, I noticed that two words that start with ‘dis’ play an important role in the life of Dutch. The first is discussion. I hadn’t been in Wageningen long before I understood that discussion is a crucial part of life in the Netherlands. The Dutch really love a long discussion, particularly during group work. Although I see discussion as a source of new ideas and perspectives, when it goes on so long it can be a waste of time. In one group work session, we spent three hours discussing a single word in the assignment. To be honest, I thought this was insane because this word was not even related to the research question or important for the assignment. Basically, this word made no difference to our report. On the other hand, as a result of the brainstorming during the discussion, I have more idea of what other people think about the topic and how we can handle a topic from different perspectives. This helps to widen my horizon as well!

My group once spent three hours discussing a single word

The second important word in the Netherlands is discount. The Dutch really like a discount in the supermarket. Even if it is very small, they will go for it. The first time I went to the supermarket with my Dutch friend, I realized that he was looking for food that was reduced in price. He headed straight for the coloured labels, although the discounts were just a few cents. Of course, everyone likes a discount, but I think Dutch people like one a bit more!

So after the learning process I went through, I have adjusted to living with these Dutch priorities, and I love them!

Tolga Ayeri, an MSc student of Environmental Sciences, from Turkey.

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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