Why is the Netherlands such a boring country to live in?


Answer ( 1 )


    I am Dutch, born and raised in The Netherlands (from 100% white Dutch parents), have lived 46 years in The Netherlands, 3 in Ireland and currently live (since only a few months) in Spain. I worked in more than 20 countries and travelled to more than 60 countries.
    I totally understand what you mean and do, largely, agree.
    Of course there is the country and the people. The country is kind of boring because it is flat, often grey (cloudy) and over-organised with relatively little nature. But I think the Netherlands has plenty of beautiful countryside to offer as well. So that is maybe not the most boring part.
    Then the Dutch…..
    The short answer to WHY the Netherlands is, or the Dutch are, boring is: Pillars (verzuilng), Calvinism and Efficiency. I will explain these below:
    The Pillars were religious groups that were super homogeneous. The Catholics and countless Protestant groups made sure that everybody behaved and believed the same within the group. Many unwritten rules made sure that nobody would behave unexpected or question dogmas. This habit of creating uniform groups can still be found everywhere in Dutch society and indeed can make things pretty boring as it has led to an overall intolerance towards differences and people that question the generally accepted norms and beliefs.
    1. Pillars:
    – Doe normaal dat is al gek genoeg (‘Act normal that is crazy enough’)
    – Niet boven het maaiveld uitsteken (‘Don’t stick out above ground level’)
    – Hoge bomen vangen veel wind (´High trees catch a lot of wind´).
    Dutch people who never lived elsewhere often do not realise this; but the Dutch lifestyle and culture is one of fitting in and ‘doing what you are supposed to do’ (hoe het hoort). In short Doing ‘normaal’ which arguably is more boring than ‘doing strange’ or ‘doing different’.
    This creates an overorganized life of efficiency in which there is very little room and tolerance for surprise and that, indeed, can make life in The Netherlands rather boring.
    – A spontaneous or semi-spontaneous meet-up with a friend today or tomorrow? Almost certainly impossible because most Dutch have a full agenda even to meet up with friends. It could take 3 or 5 weeks before the first opportunity to meet up is there.
    – Have a drink after work or after your, let’s say, yoga class?
    While I did this all the time in Ireland, in the Netherlands, most of the time almost everyone, and certainly older colleagues/yogi’s have to go home. To be home in time for dinner or do other things that were planned before. So you better announce these plans in time.
    – What gives colour in such a country? Yes! Immigrants. But because of the culture of ‘fitting in’, ‘conforming’ and ‘doing as everyone’ the Dutch expect that immigrants do ‘inburgering’ or ‘integrating’. Which basically means to become as normal and boring as the Dutch themselves. Don’t behave different, don’t dress different, don’t smell different, and of course……don’t you dare to speak different. You have to speak Dutch!
    – Another thing that can make things less boring is exceptional people doing different and exceptional things. However, because of the second saying (‘maaiveld, etc.’) people that excel are not really valued either. “He has remained so normal despite his success” is considered a compliment.
    – Cuisine? What is more boring than bread with margarine and cheese? But this is the most popular lunch in The Netherlands.
    If you really want to splash out you can add a leaf of lettuce or maybe some mustard, but most Dutch would think that is already pretty extravagant. And, why spend more than needed? (on to nr. 2)
    – Parties? While in Ireland I was invited for parties of people I did not even know, the Dutch like to make sure there are no surprises and ‘strange’ people that do not fit the behaviour of ‘our pillar’ and thus invite people carefully. Having a friend inviting a friend you do not know is a great way for surprises and helps to avoid that every party is gathering of the same (group of) people. This however you, generally cannot do, in The Netherlands. Talking to strangers in a pub is also mostly not expected (unless you are under 25, then this is very scary, but allowed).
    – De vereniging (organisation / club / society). Being a member of a vereniging is the perfect way to meet people in a ‘safe’ environment. People stay members of the tennis club, stamp collectors club, yoga centre or whatever for decades – if possible. This is really great because soon you know everyone and the risk to meet new or strange outsiders is greatly diminished.
    2. Calvinism
    The Dutch culture is first and foremost a Calvinist culture. Arguable a very boring religious culture.
    – Cheap:
    Calvinism means not splashing out, spending little, don’t show any wealth, and – not to forget – always check that others do not do so either. The Dutch ‘do normal’ Gestapo is never far away and will remind you if you do overspend or break some other unwritten rule of Calvinism. My mother once responded as if ‘accused’ when my girlfriend suggested that she could use a discount card for a cappuccino: “we never buy cappuccino in a gas station!”. The Dutch saying ‘Dat is zonde’, which means that is a waste but literally that is a sin, gives you an idea how bad it is to overspend.
    A Thermos of coffee is certainly more boring than a Frappuccino Latte. But hey, it is cheap!
    – Don’t enjoy too much:
    Hard work is a virtue and in Calvinism it is married with not enjoying too much. So even if you do not spend that much, too much fun, or too much relaxation is not valued.
    And you have to agree, what is more boring than people working hard?
    3. Efficiency and productivity
    Efficiency and productivity fit perfectly with Calvinism. It is a way to earn as much as possible while spending little time and other resources. The Dutch are obsessed with efficiency. A 5 minute train delay is a disaster in the Netherlands. Time that could have been spent more productively. The Dutch are so efficient that 1 in 7 Dutch people is suffering from Burn-out problems. If you do not take time to rest and are constantly trying to achieve and produce more, this is the result.

    Why this makes the Netherlands boring? Very simple, the lady at the counter in the supermarket has no time for a chat because she is, no joking, required to have a certain speed of moving the articles past the scanner. The doctor or nurse certainly has no time for a friendly chat in the 5, 10 or 15 minutes they are allowed to spend with you. You are very lucky if he or she has time to figure out what you have or help you. Most probably he or she doesn’t, and just prescribes you the standard ‘treatment’: Paracetamol (which, by the way, can be bought at any supermarket and is extremely cheap (see 2.).

    And yes, it is getting even more boring. The Dutch have figured out that you can have shops where the clients scan their products and the same happens in Schiphol Airport with your luggage. No need for unnecessary human contact and – how great – money saved for the big bosses and corporations.

    Here in Spain, I learn delicious cooking while waiting at the fish shop, because the locals not only really know how to cook, they also take the time to chat. It is hopelessly inefficient in Dutch eyes, but certainly much less boring!

    4. Expert advice
    Someone mentioned here on Quora that the Dutch are sheep. I don’t dare to argue. They most certainly are. To fit in a box, or pillar, and stay in it, you have to be….
    This has certain advantages. It means that if you are a so-called ‘expert’ you can basically tell the Dutch anything you want and they will blindly follow your advice, which then makes you money.
    – After a test, a car dealer (Peugeot in our case) told us that we had to pay EUR 3000 in repairs to get our car ‘in good shape’ (part of APK). When my girlfriend told them that they are crazy and that we wouldn’t do it it, they were stunned. “Someone who doesn’t follow ‘expert’ advice?????” and said :”But it is still such a good car!”. They thought we would trash our car as they did not think of the option to go somewhere else….
    We went to another garage and had everything fixed for 400 euros. Ignoring ‘expert advice’, very bad, but it can save you a lot….
    – But it gets much worse. Most Dutch also blindly follow the advice of their doctor (huisarts). That about 18,000 people die every year in the Netherlands because of doctor’s prescriptions and mistakes doesn’t matter, because the government tells us that ‘The Dutch health system is the best in the world’. So why think for yourself if you can follow the expert’s advice and do ‘as everyone does’?’

    Of course, people who question, who ask for different treatments or try out alternative treatments or at least request second opinions would make that there would be more choice and alternatives. But the Dutch are used to standardize everything. Every health insurance covers almost the same and you are – unlike here in Spain for instance – forced to insure for countless mainstream allopathy treatments while natural treatments are almost not covered. Same in the hospital, why in a German hospital my girlfriend could choose between acupuncture, homeopathy and allopathy, in the Netherlands there is, as so often, no choice. It is the same as with almost everything: “one size fits all’. The beliefs and dogmas in our pillar (read country) cannot be challenged…..
    Indeed, annoying if you are used to personalized service, and yes, pretty boring…..

    It is still weird here in Spain to see totally different clothes and products in different shops and have sooooo much choice in products. Sooo inefficient…. In the Socialists Republic of the Netherlands it is very simple ‘do as the government and experts tell you and take what is available or, if you are a foreigner, ‘rot op naar je eigen land’.
    The Dutch do not like their dogmas to be challenged and they – in general – don’t value diversity. We, the Dutch, like it flat. And indeed, boring!
    (it is bad enough that we have these semi-Belgians from Limburg in our country who speak weird and they even have hills…..)

    5. The unexpected

    Finally, unexpected things and surprises do happen. While the Dutch hate it, they think they are protected against it. We are some of the most over-insured people on the planet. Most Dutch would be much better off if they increased their deductables (eigen risico) and paid less premium. But, hey, we do not like risks (we are almost as petrified of this as the Germans), so we prefer to insure as much as we can. Even, no joke, the Dutch insure themselves for after their death: 60% of the Dutch have an ‘uitvaartverzekering’. Sorry, you will have to put this in Google Translate, since I doubt this exists anywhere else.
    Better be sure that even after your death things go without surprises…..
    Better boring than sorry…

    So dear mister or misses ‘not from The Netherlands’. I hope you have a better idea why The Netherlands is boring.

    Everything works, everything is planned and surprises are reduced to a minimum. If you have kids you know for the next 12 years when you can have your holidays. Challenging the ‘leerplicht’, even by 1 day, is a crime and leads to a fine. You are a number, not a person. Treating you as an individual, or making an exception to a rule cannot be done. The Dutch believe that what in some other countries is called, service, flexibility or human behaviour, is ‘not fair’. We are all the same. And if you are not, that is YOUR problem….

    Sure, this is boring by many standards, but the Dutch (at least most of them) like it that way….. Just these damn foreigners that are unwilling to adapt and conform. Very annoying….

    Did you know that a few years ago there was an extremely not boring 15-year old girl that wanted to sail around the world. It became a national obsession and you know what the most common comment was:
    “Who does she thinks that she is. She should go to school!”

    It became a big drama. Escaping the straightjacket of compulsory schooling in the Netherlands and leaving the herd to do ‘fun things’ rather than go to school, work hard, and suffer as a good Calvinist, is not valued in The Netherlands….

    I told you, we, the Dutch, are boring and we want to keep it that way!

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