I have been in the Netherlands for a while now. In my opinion it’s one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries in the world. Having been in groups, lecture rooms, church and living with a few indigenous Dutch, I can conclude that a Dutch person will typically give you an infectious smile on a first meeting, although not knowing you well. But there is one strange thing about their handshakes.
Dutch smiles are mostly accompanied with a very heavy and serious handshake. I recently started my thesis and when I was introduced to the first lady in my group, she stood up, cooked a nice smile but launched into a serious and heavy handshake. I was surprised as I thought it was only their male counterparts who usually introduce themselves with this kind of handshake.
Concentrating on the Dutch handshakes might make you feel unwelcomed, but don’t worry: just focus on their smiles and kindness. It completely covers everything and that brings a relief.
Bright Amoah, an MSc Biotechnology student from Ghana
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NL: Ferme handdruk
Bright Amoah, een masterstudent Biotechnologie uit Ghana, prijst de Nederlandse vriendelijkheid en gastvrijheid. Opvallend vindt hij dat Nederlanders je altijd begroeten met een gulle glimlach, ook als ze je amper kennen. Maar die Nederlandse handdruk is raar, vindt hij: vrijwel zonder uitzondering ontzettend stevig en serieus, van mannen én van vrouwen. Maar laat je niet misleiden door die wel erg ferme handdruk, adviseert Dwight. Focus je liever op de Nederlandse glimlach, want dan weet je: je bent heel welkom hier.