Student - 25 januari 2018

The Dutch and freebies


Last autumn I was working at a Dutch event over the weekend. We supplied our guests with free coffee, tea, cookies and fruit. The event organizers did not announce that all the snacks were free, so at first most guests did not touch them because they thought they had to pay. However, after realising that all the snacks were on the house, people started packing them in their backpacks, handbags and even jackets.

Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek

It was still early and the event was not nearly over. Where I come from it is weird to carry off food in the middle of an event or party. In fact, most people don’t like to be seen taking food and snacks home at all. Food is usually left behind and if you do want to take something home, you secretly and politely ask the kitchen staff after the event if it is OK to do so. But here it seems to be the norm to put food in your pocket or bag in the middle of an event without considering that other people who come later might miss out.

On the same day I invited my friends to dinner. I made a typical meal from my country and they offered to bring desserts and drinks. But after dinner I was perplexed when everyone packed up the leftovers of what they had brought and left. In my country it is considered courteous to leave the leftovers for the host just in case another guest walks in.

Monica Mbuthia, a Master’s student of Development studies, from Kenya

Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience going Dutch? Send it in! Describ an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to and earn 25 euroes and Dutch candy.

NL: Gratis!

Afgelopen herfst werkte Monica Mbuthia mee aan een evenement in Nederland. Zij en haar collega’s zetten drinken, koekjes en fruit klaar. In het begin werden die nauwelijks aangeraakt – de gasten dachten dat ze ervoor moesten betalen. Toen ze eenmaal begrepen dat alles gratis was, begonnen ze de snacks in hun tassen en jassen te proppen. ‘Terwijl het evenement nog lang niet over was.’ Een Keniaan zou zich generen voor zulk gedrag, zegt Monica. ‘Als je echt graag iets mee zou willen nemen, zou je zachtjes en vriendelijk aan het personeel vragen of dat mocht.’

Re:acties 1

  • GJvL

    I sincerely hope this is not considered "Typical Dutch" by all foreign visitorrs. I would personally consider it bad manners and I'm sure I'm not the only (Dutch) person who thinks so.

    This applies more often to the "Typical Dutch" column - although I like it and it is interesting to see how foreigners perceive Holland. Or Wageningen. Or part of Wageningen.