What Makes the Dutch Dutch?

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A workshop to help you get to grips with the Dutch.

Being new to a country is a challenge for every expatriate. Also being new to the Netherlands comes with its standard hurdles, difficulties and challenges. To start with, the Dutch are overly direct, something they themselves see as openness, but that most foreigners take as being somewhat rude.

The Dutch pride themselves on their tolerance and flexibility and indeed they do tolerate certain things (think soft drugs, euthanasia) that other countries forbid - yet also Dutch tolerance has its limits!

If you have been working here for a while, you may have come across the relative lack of hierarchy in Dutch businesses; your co-workers blithely ignore authority, and senior execs carefully avoid displaying their power, opting instead to accentuate their role as part of the group (but don’t be mistaken, this does not mean that they don’t have any authority!)

And then there is the matter of the dropjes! Now, there are two approaches you can take, as an expat. You can say: “I’ll just have to bear with it and hope I get used to it,” or: “Why are the Dutch so Dutch and what can I do to better understand them?”

In mentioning the latter option, we are not talking about a magic potion, but rather a workshop that will help you understand the Dutch. The Introduction to the Netherlands workshop has been designed to give you a head start into Dutch society. It is aimed at people who want to make the best of their stay in the Netherlands and who want to get to grips with the Dutch quickly.

The designers of the workshop, Expertise in Labour Mobility, has over 15 years of experiencing in dealing with different working cultures abroad. In their work as advisers of large multinational employers on the development of expat policies, expat toolkits and communication with expats and their partners, Labour Mobility has acquired a great deal of practical experience. When their guide Looking for Work in the Netherlands turned out to be their best-selling guide for several years in a row, they realised their home market wasn’t as easy to fit in with as they had thought.

Nannette Ripmeester, Managing Director of Expertise in Labour Mobility, comments: “Our Looking for Work in... guides cover over 40 countries. I was lecturing all across Europe about working and finding work in different European countries when the University of Delft asked me if I could do something for their international students. They said: ‘For years you have successfully been giving the workshop Looking for Work Around the Globe here, but we actually have many foreign students who complain about the difficulties in finding a job right here, after graduation.’ One try-out of the specially designed workshop convinced us there was a much wider need for this kind of information; a need that goes beyond practicalities only, but where practical matters are included. And that’s why we developed the Introduction to the Netherlands workshop. It provides you with all you need to know to make your stay in the Netherlands a success. You receive an introduction to the Dutch language and practical information on the Dutch labour market and Dutch culture. And my favourite part is the lunch: specialities from Dutch cuisine you might not have dared try before!”

For those expat or expat partners who want to enjoy their stay here and want to understand what makes the Dutch so Dutch, this one-day workshop is an easy introduction to living in the Netherlands. It may not help you to appreciate dropjes or raw(!) herring, but it may help you to value the Dutch directness slightly better.

Expertise in Labour Mobility runs this workshop approximately six times per year; the next opportunities to participate are 10 May, 5 September and 6 November. The workshops are given in Rotterdam and last one full working day; costs are €185 per person, including lunch, drinks as well as a take-home information package. For more information, visit www.labourmobility.com send an e-mail to l.edelkoort@labourmobility.com. Check us out on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter!

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