Living in the Netherlands
Sandy beaches, fields of tulips, the polder countryside with its picturesque windmills and breathtaking skies. These are just a few of the reasons why you will fall in love with the Dutch landscape. Add to this our thriving cities with good museums, a diverse and dazzling culture, the multicultural cuisine or the close proximity to some of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Like any other country and people, the Dutch have their own traditions and customs. Since there are many publications that deal with these issues extensively, we will only mention things that are likely to strike you during the first few days and weeks in the Netherlands.
The first time you take a train or bus, you may notice the reserve of Dutch people towards strangers. The seats will fill up in a fashion that postpones proximity as long as possible, and unless they are acquainted, people seldom speak to each other. You may think of this behavior as unfriendliness, but if they see it as respect for the other person's privacy, perhaps combined with shyness, they will no doubt find living among the Dutch more enjoyable. This latter interpretation is probably more accurate.
The Dutch respect for privacy is evident in many ways. For example, famous people can generally go about their business freely in public without being disturbed. Even Queen Beatrix occasionally shops in department stores and her sons were able to live quite normal lives as students.
Despite being reserved, the Dutch have a manner of speaking that may startle you by its directness. The Dutch tend to come to the point quickly. This directness is, in fact, seen by the Dutch as a positive personality trait.
Dutch people meeting each other for the first time do not usually wait to be introduced. They extend their hand for a handshake, make eye contact, say their name, and listen for the name of the other person. However, on social occasions, people who already know each other also shake hands if they have not seen one another for a while. If they are good friends or relatives, they will exchange three kisses on the cheeks.
The Dutch tend to be less competitive than many other Westerners. High value is placed on teamwork and consensus, and a person who tries too hard to excel will be criticised as a 'solo artist' and excluded from the 'group'.
Young people often go to discotheques, clubs, or bars (cafés) to be with friends and meet new people. This is generally done at the weekends, though in many student cities Thursday night is the night for going out.
Food does not play as large a role in hospitality in the Netherlands as in most other cultures. When visiting Dutch people, one will always be offered something to drink, but do not expect a meal unless the invitation specifically mentioned 'dinner'. What matters in the Netherlands is not so much the food, but the companionship.
You might have the impression that the Dutch are serious, mild-mannered people. In fact, the Dutch have a very special style of having a good time. It is expressed in the Dutch word 'gezelligheid', which describes an atmosphere of warm, relaxed congeniality.
Those who live in a Dutch student house, will see evidence of the independent, separate lives people lead. Resources are not generally pooled in such a household: everyone keeps track of his or her own expenditure and consumption. Cooking is done individually, but in many student houses, the students cook and have dinner together. Food placed in a communal refrigerator is considered personal property and if necessary it is sometimes marked as such, e.g., by writing one's name on a milk carton. This deeply rooted independence is something that newcomers must learn to live with.
Tilburg, with its close proximity to Berlin, Brussels, Paris and London, is a great city for your time abroad. Not only these large international cities offer you cultural diversity, beautiful surroundings and a lot of fun activities, so does Tilburg!
With a population of over 204.000 inhabitants, of which almost 30.000 students, Tilburg is the sixth city of the Netherlands. Tilburg offers many events to its inhabitants and visitors such as Tilburg Ten Miles, the Tilburg Fair (which is the largest of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany!) and of course Carnival. Besides the events, Tilburg also has many shops and beautiful green surroundings which can be reached very easily by foot or bike. For more information about Tilburg, please visit the website of the municipality of Tilburg. For tourist information please visit the website of VVV Tilburg.
Student houses are spread all over the city of Tilburg, but the houses offered to international students are most often located between Tilburg University campus and Tilburg city center. As general for Dutch student housing, you most often share your house (kitchen, bathroom and living room) with other students, being national or international. Female or male only houses are rare; genders live mixed-up together. In addition, non-smoking houses are also rare and smoking inside is usually only done after making agreements with your housemates. Sharing your house with other (inter)national students makes you study abroad time more intense and vivid.
If you want to learn more about the country, religion, language, culture and society have a look at the following website about Holland:
Study in Holland