My first handshake in The Netherlands happened when my supervisor welcomed me as a new member of his lab. 'Wow, he is a gentleman', I thought, but it was a very hard handshake indeed. I felt a little bit strange but soon relieved, and I thought it was just his style. But shortly afterwards, I found it was a normal phenomenon here and it seems that Dutch people want to show their power through hard hand-shaking. One of my colleagues even told me that she found her ring not a circle any more just because too many people shook her hand powerfully at a scientific conference.
So, just save your energy and show your tough side to all your Dutch friends only. If you can win the trial of strength they will like you. Yue Lu, a Chinese PhD student in the Microbiology Lab