What you should know about Dutch and the Netherlands
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What you should know about Dutch and the Netherlands

This summer we welcomed new families from all over the world to the ISUtrecht, starting a new life in Utrecht or in the Netherlands. We, as the Dutch department, know that moving to a new country means adapting to a new way of living. In our Dutch MYP classes we asked our students who have been here longer, to give some tips and tell you the things you should know about the Dutch and the Netherlands.

By Max Geoffroy Chateau, secondary Dutch teacher

We asked the students three questions, the first one was: What do you need to know before talking to a Dutch person?

Of course, one of the things that all students acknowledged is the importance of speaking Dutch. Even though you can probably manage and survive living in the Netherlands with only speaking English. Dutch still is the language of the country, and you will feel more included in society if you understand at least some words and sentences.

Useful words

Examples of useful words from the students are:


Hoe gaat het?

Mijn naam is …

Another a tip from the students: be aware that if you ask a Dutch person to speak Dutch with you, they’ll switch and talk really fast.

The second question we asked was: What do you need to know before joining in on a Dutch celebration?

Sinterklaas and Koningsdag

Most students found this question the most appealing and everyone wanted to write about Koningsdag and Sinterklaas. So what’s so special about it? And why should you know about it when moving to the Netherlands?

Especially when you are younger, Sinterklaas is definitely the time of year to look forward to. Not only will you get tons of gifts on the 5th of December, the weeks leading up to this celebration are filled with Sinterklaas food, traditional songs and dressing up as Sinterklaas or Piet, his helper.

In school, the students wrote on the posters: pepernoten, speculaas and chocolate letters. This typical Dutch candy is the students’ favorite and so one of the first things they wrote down.

Besides Sinterklaas, Koningsdag (King’s Day) appeared to be an important moment in the year for the students. The date is the 27th of April. It’s a free day and as the students wrote, orange is the colour of that day. According to the students (and us teachers!) you should know that the king is named Willem-Alexander and the queen is named Maxima (she’s originally from Argentina). And also don’t forget here that there’s delicious food to be eaten on that day, for example an orange tompouce.

Other typical Dutch events that the students named were: Pasen (Easter), Kerstmis (Christmas) en Sint Maarten (Saint Martin).

The third question that students answered was: What do you need to know before becoming friends with a Dutch person?

Social life at ISUtrecht could mean that you don’t get to meet a lot of Dutch people. However, our students want you to know that chances are high you are going to become friends with a Dutch person and that’s why they came up with a couple of tips.

Stroopwafels and bitterballen

First thing that surprised us teachers a little is: food. Get to know the Dutch by knowing about their favourite foods. According to our students in general there are 2 categories of great Dutch food: fried food and baked goodies.

To start with the last one, the one that most students loved the most is: stroopwafels. Something you should definitely try according to the students. In the fried food category there is: frikandellen, kroketten, bitterballen and many more snacks from the cafetaria.