27 Mar 2012

Dutch paradoxes

After 18 months here, I tend to think that the Dutch are:
  • Precisely casual
  • Tolerant of what they do not know you do
  • Distant strangers and warm friends
  • Businesslike on the road and relaxed at home
Can you add more? What are your national paradoxes?


  1. I'd add 'law-abiding anarchists', or 'hierarchic egalitarians', or something like that (need to think about it). I've heard this comment from several foreigners: the Dutch like to think they have an egalitarian society where everybody has a say, but in reality they have a lot of respect for hierarchy within the organisation where they work. So whereas in other places people would say "I just told professor Jones that he can #$&! his new project" here people would say "I didn't want to do the project but Kees insisted." You can call the boss by his first name, but he is still king.

  2. Oh, and another one: proudly modest. We like to say we never brag about our country being the best in the world (unlike certain Anglo-Saxon superpowers). Actually, we're so proud of our modesty we'll give you hell when you criticize us.

    I'll stop now.


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