10 Things I Never Did Until I Lived in the Netherlands

The Netherlands might seem like any other country. But once you live there you realize that there are many things you’d probably never think of doing elsewhere. Here is my experience after 2 years living in Holland.

10 Things I Never Did Until I Lived in the Netherlands

1. Biked in a suit

Before coming to Holland I could never understand how Dutch people can bike everywhere. In a country as rainy as the Netherlands biking everywhere still seems to me a bit odd. Moreover, nobody here seems to mind biking in a suit, tight skirt, or even dragging a suitcase behind the bike.

2. Ate hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) on bread

I’ve known that Dutchies have a weird concept of eating chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag) on bread, however I had no idea how popular it is – they eat it for breakfast and lunch almost every day. In Dutch sense hagelslag are not just sprinkles, there are plenty types of them and… it’s actually quite tasty.hagelslag

3. Felt comfortable about coming to the class or meeting 15 minutes late

I remember when I found out my class starts at 1pm I got there on time. How surprised I was when I found out nobody was there! In Holland even tho a class or a meeting starts at a particular time everyone knows that the actual starting time is quarter past.

4. Looked into people’s houses through the window

Dutch people have an extraordinary desire for gigantic windows, even when living on a ground floor. Moreover, they don’t even bother to put curtains on them, so everyone passing by can see every detail of their daily life.

5. Felt annoyed when I had to commute for more than 20 minutes

Holland is a small country, so people easily commute to work between the cities. However, due to the size of the country traveling for more than 20 minutes is considered to be very, very far.


6. Sold cookies and clothes on the street

During a popular celebration of Queensday (from 2014 Kingsday) apart from dressing in orange and getting drunk, Dutchies organize a lot of street markets. All the streets look like a gigantic garage sale and what is even more interesting – people are actually buying everything.SDC13092

7. Ate raw herring

Yes, I did it! I tried this traditional ‘world famous’ Dutch herring. It was actually pretty tasty.herring

8. Bought hot food from a vending machine

Locals love fast food, especially when it’s fried. There is nothing, well, maybe apart from health issues, wrong with that, but one of the most popular Dutch fast food companies – Febo sells various HOT snacks in some kind of vending machine.febo1

9. Had my bike stolen by the police

In Holland everyone owns a bike and bikes usually to the train station from which he/she commutes to work. Stations amaze with huge bike garages that, unfortunately, are always full. If you leave your bike outside the bike rack you might have to rebuy your bike from the police. Station patrol often removes bikes that are illegally parked.

10. Had to pay to ER despite being insured

For the majority of expats Dutch health system seems unfair and ridiculous – more about it will be explained in a post about what to know when you’re moving to the Netherlands. In Holland, despite paying around 100 euros a month, you still need to spend money on everything that’s not a basic GP visit. The insurance coverage also excludes a visit at the ER.

18 thoughts on “10 Things I Never Did Until I Lived in the Netherlands”

  1. Very interesting post, Anna! The health system sounds awful though! Is it at least efficient after you do pay? As for the hot snacks from a vending machine, I don’t think I could ever convince myself to eating that 😉 A sandwich with a bit of ham and cheese is probably a much healthier option 😉

    • Health care is definitely not efficient enough 🙁 But it’s a separate topics that will probably require a separate post.

      • That sucks! In Barcelona the situation is horrible as well. You don’t really have to pay apart from your insurance but sometimes you have to wait for the whole week to see you GP :/ The more I travel the more I appreciate Polish healthcare.

        • I’m not exactly sure how does it work in Poland (I left too early), but I like the UK system. Here in Holland you have to pay 110 euros (approx) a month and this covered only basic GP visit that you need to beg to run any tests on you or give you antibiotics [Dutch doctors have strange politics to wait till you’re dying to give you something]. Everything aside from GP you have to pay for up to 360 a year… so basically you gotta pay 1680 a year for insurance – but it’s basic, so for instance if you break your leg and need physiotherapy it’s not covered, if you suddenly get a baby or anything it’s all not covered – you’d have to get a ‘bonus’ to your insurance first to get it, but you can only change your insurance once a year. I don’t get it, seriously 🙁

  2. I lived for a short period in Maastricht and can definitely related to a few of these. #2 I still don’t understand, but sprinkles are always a good thing. #4 YES! I always felt like such a creeper walking down the streets and looking right inside people’s flats. #8 I love this. It’s such a great idea that should be adopted everywhere. I also never quite got the knack of bike riding. I learned as a kid, but I’m just too scared to be on the roads. I had too many close calls while in the Netherlands – put me off them for awhile.

  3. Well done, I still haven’t tried raw herring yet! I gag whenever I see people eat it at the markets and I stick to kibbeling instead 🙂 And don’t get me started on healthcare… I pay 80 euro a month and have a 700 euro excess, absolutely ridiculous!

  4. Thanks , I have recently been looking for information about this subject for a while and yours is the best I have discovered so far.
    However, what about the conclusion? Are you certain about the supply?

  5. wonderful submit, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector don’t understand this.
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  6. I ate Raw Herring and Hagelslag, love them so much. But, since we used to be Dutch colony, Eating bread with Hagelslag or choco sprinkles is not something new for us. I grew up with this.

    Wait, have you tried Dutch Licorice or Drop?? It tastes like chemical thing?? My Dutch friends said, you’re considered as Dutch if you Love our national candy. HoningDrop. But, unfortunately I can’t never understand the taste. It’s just beyond me.. 😀

  7. One clarification to the healthcare system, it’s actually a limited free-market model. This means that any Dutch citizen is required by law to get a private health insurance. The government however, decides what is covered or not. The coverage list is confirmed yearly and every year anybody can switch insurers without fear for a denial as the insurer needs to accept any citizen applying for coverage.

    Most basic stuff is covered, like baby deliveries in the hospital, but indeed physiotherapy is only covered for a limited number of sessions. For those cases, one can take a ‘top’ insurance, of which the coverage does differ from insurer to insurer. Also, for those ‘top’ insurances an insurer can actually deny acceptance as the insurance is voluntarily.


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