20 december 2018

Loose Sandwiches, Dutch Men on Mopeds and other “Typically” Dutch Quirks

I have finals and don’t have enough time to analyze any socio-politically titillating topics in Dutch culture, but the Dutch are always asking me about their quirks. So, please enjoy some of my observations of Dutch idiosyncrasies in . . .


  • The Dutch seem to have an egregiously conservative hand when it comes to pouring tea (it’s never filled to the brim), and an even more conservative approach to refills (AKA, none). I suspect that this is a distinctly American college student complaint because I’m cheap and thrive on $2.50 infinite pots of tea while studying. Which brings me to . . .
  • The struggle of studying in a cafe (especially on a weekend)! Many cafes squander your prime studying real estate to a single (overpopulated) table or just ban computers all together (some on the weekdays/after 12 pm or just on the weekends) for what I can only assume is a twofold business model to encourage multiple coffee and banana bread purchases (the banana bread is a whole other story, but it’s positive — the Dutch just love toasty banana bread served with a teenytiny fork that us common Americans won’t actually use because we can’t possibly have the patience to eat this small slice with that thing but it is super cute so we will probably take a picture of it for the “aesthetic”). Seriously, if you’re not taking up space in a small café with your computer and notebook and buying one cup of tea (that you expect a refill of) for six hours, then what the hell else will you do with your time? Well played, Dutchies.


  • The Dutch love to start class right on the dot, and will publicly reprimand you for being one minute late. Yet, at least three Dutch people will always show up 20 minutes into the (optional) lectures. If this were the US, that classroom door would be locked and the professor themselves would be late, knocking to get in. That’s a true story.
  • Conversely, if you tell your professor that the 51 was delayed, you’re usually off of the hook. Funnily enough, half of the time this doesn’t even have to be true because everyone just simply expects the 51 to be delayed anyway. If you know, you know.
  • During class, Dutch students love a good, hearty lunch of loose sandwiches that have been flopping around in a plastic produce bag! For real, they are always packing multiple (at least four) meat and cheese sandwiches into these big bags (we’re not talking sandwich sized baggies) and the sandwiches never seem to get damaged in transit? A purely Dutch marvel, in my opinion. Also, if it’s not a sandwich, it’s a rice cake. They love rice cakes. Now, I love rice cakes.

Bike Lanes

  • If you’ve spent any time here near a bike path, you know the Dutch can really exercise some road rage when it comes to biking. Of course, there are the absurdly obscure (read deceivingly offensive) Dutch insults that are hurled whenever a Dutchie passes you by, but my favorite is whenever they’re delivered by two dudes on a moped. Because, even though you’ve just tried to spit on me, sirs — you’re two dudes on a moped. It’s kinda wholesome, man! Or, even better: It’s a real rush when you’re biking and experience the rare occurrence of pedestrians trying to exercise their right of way at a wholly inopportune time (in all honesty, I don’t think anyone actually knows who has right of way) and you can’t quite slow down fast enough. In my experience, even if you manage to slow down without hitting them, they just stop anyway to glare deep into your soul and kick your bike wheel. Also, if you’re a fan of acapella, try having someone steal your bike bell so you can’t do much more than yell “Ring! Ring!” whenever you perceive an oncoming collision.

Grocery Stores

  • The Dutch seem to either abhor stick deodorant or have a fetish for ultimate efficiency because my friends and I can only find the aerosol form. They also seem to love tiny toothpaste tubes and weirdly textured, small gums. These are mutually exclusive events, but are all equally noteworthy.
  • I may not speak Dutch, but I do have a Bonus card and I think that’s as good a status symbol as two dudes on moped hanging outside a coffeeshop waiting to aggressively hit on foreign girls. Another true story.   


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