The Dutch and their agendas

The Dutch are a social bunch and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As an international living in the Netherlands you would have to get used to a lot of the Dutch customs. From the three kisses, to the multitude of bikes everywhere, the Dutch traditions, as all other, need to quickly be adopted in order to be able to survive in this country. Which leads us to the Dutch people and their love for their agenda.

Many foreigners are left perplexed when they try to arrange a get together with their Dutch friends. The first thing they hear is ‘Let me check my agenda to see if I have any appointments standing’. If they are available and you both agree on a time they will note this appointment immediately in their agenda. And you bet your bottom dollar they will be there on time. Now, this is not completely unusual . The moment it gets bizarre is when they are meticulously flipping through their agenda trying to find an available date and end up scheduling you in after 5 weeks at 15:00 because at 12:00 they have a lunch date with their parents. Now, imagine making an appointment with multiple Dutch people at once ... utter chaos. Yes, the Dutch love their agenda and they are particularly religious about it.

The majority of Dutch people would have social events, dinners, nights out, family events, sport and even relaxation time scheduled in advanced. If it is not in the agenda, it usually does not happen. The idea of doing something on the fly for most Dutch people seems absurd. It is not to say that the Dutch people are not spontaneous, they are. But it is also safe to say that their socializing skills far outweigh their spontaneity. This can be a deal breaker for people who are not used to this way of socializing, but one thing is certain. Dutch people are always true to their word. If they invite you or schedule you in their agenda, you can be sure that the meeting is most certainly going to happen.

Iim Agenda 311008

Now, how does this affect you as an international? Well, first and foremost you would have to not fight the idea of the agenda and start organizing with your Dutch friends far in advance. Embracing and adapting their level of socializing, till a certain extent, will also force you to be more social and able to schedule your events more consciously, which gives you an overview of your free time. If you are, at any moment, feeling spontaneous and feel like getting drinks with your Dutch friends, do always ask. You now know that there is a chance of them politely declining. But they certainly appreciate the gesture and will definitely consider this for next time. And you never know, this can give you a rite of passage in their precious agenda. Good luck!


"It takes real planning to organize this kind of chaos"

Mel Odom

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