There are some things you cannot learn from integration courses. There are some glaring mistakes you just have to make to become a true foreigner in the Netherlands. Here are seven that we have all been guilty of.
1. You’ll be late
Even one minute late is considered rude by Dutch standards. Traffic, getting lost, delays at work, difficulty finding parking, and every other excuse considered acceptable by all other nationalities will not earn you forgiveness. Blame it on a train delay. And curse the rudeness of NS to make you late.
2. You won’t make an appointment
Want grab coffee with your neighbour? Break out our calendar and schedule it 4-6 weeks in advance. Whatever you do, don’t just drop by.
3. You will forget flowers
If invited over to a Dutch person’s home, you will be expected to bring a gift.
While some more open minded folks will welcome a bottle of wine or chocolates, it’s more common to bring flowers. And not flowers from Albert Heijn either.
4. You will not offer to get coffee or tea for you colleagues
If you want grab a coffee during the work day, you better check with your entire office first, including janitorial staff and people on the night shift. Call them if necessary. It’s expected that you will offer and bring back 14 different orders, because everyone in the office will say yes.
5. You will decline something without saying thanks
If you do, god forbid, turn down your colleagues offer for coffee or tea, be sure to say “No, thank you” or “Nee, Bedankt.” Even when declining the receipt at the grocery store, you better include that “thanks.” Otherwise, you might as well spit on their shoes.
6. You will not offer your guests tea or coffee
If anyone comes over to your house for any reason, you better be prepared to offer coffee, tea, and some type of biscuit. It doesn’t matter if the plumber is there because your sink exploded, you will be considered rude for not offering.
7. Not taking birthday cake to the office
It is your birthday, but you are expected to give everyone else a present – in the form of a piece of cake or pie. You must arrange the cakes, usually Vlaamse Vlaaien, next to the coffee machine. See five rules for dealing with Dutch birthdays.
Do not add a card saying ‘It’s my birthday’ unless you want to be given three kisses by all your colleagues – and no-one really cares who supplied the pies anyway.