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How to live in Groningen the Dutch way

Arriving in Groningen from a total different country with a whole different culture can be confusing sometimes. It can seem hard to understand why these tall, blond people act the way they do. But if you understand a little bit of their way they are living and thinking, I’m pretty sure you will fit in soon enough. Just follow these simple rules:

Ride your bike anywhere you go

Anywhere? Yes, anywhere! It doesn’t matter if the supermarket is just 200 meters away or if you have to cycle 10 kilometres before you reach your destination. It is raining? Just put on something to cover your head, but ride your bike. Is it snowing? Be careful, preferably cycle with a little less speed. But you can still ride your bike. Is it storming, even with code red? Still ride your bike. See it the positive way. You can skip hitting the gym, because your legs are suffering from cycling up the steep bridges in Groningen.

All the Dutch children are growing up cycling. On my high school there were even some classmates who cycled everyday 30 kilometres to get to school (15 kilometres each way). Of course you complain when it’s raining, but since the Netherlands is so flat it was never seen as a difficulty. Everyone did it like this.

bike ov

Eat your sandwiches and be more productive

I know that a lot of international students in Groningen don’t get this: the Dutch and their sandwiches. We take and eat our sandwiches for lunch wherever we go. I have to admit: I even ate them while cycling. It all starts when we are 4 years old and we have to go to elementary school. Our Mom or Dad makes us our sandwiches with butter and chocolate sprinkles. We carry them with us and eat them all together around 1 p.m. We continue doing this until we are old and worn out.

The Dutch see the bright side of it. If you have a lot of work to do, but you’re still hungry you won’t need a microwave to warm up your meal and use a fork to eat it. You just grab the sandwich that you made in the morning and eat it. Some eat just two slices, but other tend to eat 8 or even 10. You can put everything you like on it: something sweet like Nutella or something like cheese or meat. In this way it’s everyday another lunch.

Birthday party? First coffee!

This doesn’t really counts when the party starts after 9 p.m., but when you go to a birthday party from an adult which starts around 4 p.m. be prepared for the coffee. During my study abroad in Italy I found out that is was a no go to drink cappuccino after 11 a.m. or to start your lunch with ordering coffee as a drink. Both things are totally normal in the Netherlands, just as drinking coffee during a birthday party. Even a second round of coffee is a common thing to do. Coffee and cake: that’s how the Dutchies like it.

Do you want to share your Dutch rule? Feel free to put it in the comments.

Written by Patrice Sligter – PR Committee