Here’s something I wrote about five years ago, but it still applies!
How to Be Dutch
There’s been a lot of talk in Holland lately about immigrants and about how and how much we should adapt ourselves into the Dutch culture. Clearly we need to learn Dutch, no question about that. But there’s more to the Dutch culture than the language. What I’d like to present tonight are a few tips to help you adapt: How to be Dutch.
1. Ride bicycles everywhere, no matter how cold, icy or rainy it is. Carry things in one hand while you steer with the other. Balance a crate of beer on the back with one hand while you steer with the other. Or carry two children and four bags of groceries. Never make your kids wear helmets or use the seatbelts on the bicycle seat. If there’s no bicycle seat, just have the kid sit on the rack in back of you and hang on. Smoke while you bicycle. Talk on your mobile phone while you bicycle. Carry an umbrella while you bicycle. Never use your lights, no matter how dark it is. Remember, as long as you are on a bicycle, no traffic laws apply to you.
3. If you walk, never look left or right before stepping off the sidewalk.
4. Bring sandwiches with you. Everywhere. If it’s breakfast or lunch-time, whatever you eat must be in the form of a sandwich. If it’s not in sandwich form, make a sandwich of it. Never eat peanut butter and jam together.
5. Be completely confident as to the superiority of the Dutch political and social system, while regularly complaining about governmental over-regulation and interference.
6. Insist that Zwarte Piet isn’t a racist image. Of course it isn’t racist for white people to dress up in blackface and act like clowns. It’s tradition!
7. Never wear a hat no matter how cold it gets.
9. If you’re invited to someone’s house, make sure to comment on how gezellig it is.
10. When visitors leave your house, stand outside and wave good-bye to them. They may take a long time to get into their car and get going and it may be bitterly cold, but you should still stand outside and wave until they are completely out of sight.
11. Leave your curtains open, even at night, so that everyone passing by can have a good look at how perfectly tidy your house is.
12. Use an incredibly small spoon to stir your tea. Be very careful not to burn your fingers. Never put milk in your tea.
13. Eat your French fries with mayonnaise, never ketchup.
14. If you ever go to any international sporting event of any kind, wear an orange wig and orange clothes.
15. Eat raw herring.
16. When asked if you speak English, reply “Of course!”
17. Discuss the weather. A lot. Say things like “Hopefully we will have a cold winter this year so we will be able to skate on the canals.”
18. Overleggen: There is no good English translation of this word, but before you make any decision, make sure to discuss the matter thoroughly and at great length with your colleagues or family.