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About the Dutch culture

Did you know?

  • The Netherlands has a long history of international trade, having forged links with countries around the world from as early as 1600, bringing together new knowledge, skills, business and ideas.
  • The Dutch society is international, diverse and inclusive.
  • The Netherlands covers over 41,000 square kilometres in total, which means we have a relatively high population density of almost 500 people per square kilometre.
  • The population of the Netherlands is expected to increase to 18 million by the year 2050.
  • Because the Netherlands is not a large country, it only takes about four hours to travel by train from Groningen (in the north) to Maastricht (in the south).
  • Approximately a quarter of the Netherlands lies below sea level. The excellent and famous Delta Works keep the sea at a safe distance.
  • The warm welcome we give to the rest of the world has earned us a well-deserved reputation for openness in all aspects of society.
  • It's a great place to live as one of the safest countries in the world, according to the Global Peace index, and belongs to the top 10 happiest countries in the world.

The Dutch way

Studying in another country is very exciting and an experience of a lifetime, but it can also make you aware of the cultural differences. Therefore it's good to know about our habits and ways.

For example the Dutch are known for their open mindedness, 'down-to-earthness', but also for their ‘gezelligheid’. A word difficult to translate, but which means joy of being together. Our students love to hang out or to work together, to party and to go to festivals.

But we also are known for our directness. We can be very outspoken and straight forward. This comes from the belief that everybody has a right to have an opinion and by discussing different angles and views we only can learn from each other and make things better. It is not rude to tell somebody how you feel about something. Make sure you participate actively in the classroom and don’t be afraid to give and receive critical feedback.

Another characteristic is our punctuality. When making an appointment, the schedules are on the table and being on time is very important to us.

Ambience photo Fontys

‘Holland’ or ‘The Netherlands’?

Should you call our country ‘Holland’ or ‘The Netherlands’? And what’s the difference between the two?

The country’s formal name is ‘Nederland’ (The Netherlands), meaning the ‘low country’, or the ‘lowlands’, as much of the land is at or below sea level. The Netherlands consists out of twelve provinces.

Out of these twelve, North and South Holland are the two provinces that together make up 'Holland'. They are the most heavily populated of all the provinces and encompass some of the Netherlands' biggest cities, such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.

Due to the maritime and economic power that these two provinces combined had during the 17th century, the Netherlands became known worldwide as Holland. To make matters even more confusing, the inhabitants of the Netherlands are called Dutch.

Arrival in the Netherlands

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Studying a Dutch taught programme

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Getting around

The Netherlands is a small country. Public transport is well organized and will take you almost anywhere you want to go. Consider buying a rail card; it really is worth the investment.

The bicycle is the cheapest and easiest way to get around. There are special cycling lanes on almost every road and other road users are used to cyclists.

Most Dutch people, regardless of their profession or status, have a bicycle. Buy a second-hand bike rather than a new one to save money. But also be sure to buy at least one strong lock!

Would you like to know more about the Netherlands? If so, we recommend that you visit the following websites:

  • https://www.government.nl - This website provides general information regarding the Netherlands, from statistics and amusing facts to detailed articles regarding the country’s government, history and society.
  • www.studyinholland.nl - This is a ‘Nuffic’ (Dutch organisation for international cooperation in higher education) website and includes a wide range of general information.
    • https://stuffdutchpeoplelike.com - 'Stuff Dutch People Like' is celebration of all things Dutch, a website for internationals to get to know the Dutch culture.