I knew that the Dutch were organized and punctual, but what shocked me was that they are so prompt about their working hours. Almost all offices and shops close at exactly 6 pm. It took me a couple of months to get used to that.
In Russia almost everybody works and goes shopping until nine or ten o’clock in the evening. Moreover, we have ‘24-hour shops’. It was a weird and unusual feeling to go to the city or a grocery store to buy some food for dinner around 8 pm and find everything was closed. How is that? I could not understand why shops would close THAT early, exactly at the time people return from work or school. When was I supposed to buy my food?
I have learnt to plan my shopping at weekends or in the early mornings if lectures only started in the afternoon. So that problem was solved and I adapted. But soon I encountered another issue with Dutch people ending their working day at 6 pm. They cannot be reached by phone after that! I am used to free communication by phone ANY time of the day: whether it is 9 am or 9 pm. I will always pick up and answer any questions and I know anyone I call will do the same. Dutch people are different. After 6 pm it is their ‘private time’. They cannot be reached for work-related matters anymore.
On the one hand that is weird for me as a foreigner, but on further consideration, the Dutch do not stress themselves when they come home and they can enjoy the rest of the day with their family and friends. What a happy nation!
Maria Starodubrovskaya from Russia Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience of going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefl y. 300 words max. Send it to email@example.com and earn twenty-fi ve euro and Dutch candy.