October 16, 2007 3:07:47 PM CEST
There's also the question of how the Dutch socialize in a work setting. I came here to work at the O.L.V.G. after working in the NHS for several years.
The first thing I noticed here was that there was absolutely no work-related socialising. This was a bit of a shock, as in the NHS 75% of the socialising you did was with other NHS personnel, either in the hospital social-club, or in the local 'NHS-favored' pubs. Now, you can argue that that was all a bit incestuous, and you'd be right, but at least when you moved to a new hospital in a new area it meant that you met new people and new friends very quickly - that just doesn't happen here.
I think this really depends on where you work. A big chunk of my husbands socializing is with people he works with.
I agree with No P on this one. There is a social scene where I work but it's organised and normally involves an activity. Nobody goes out after work for a drink and this also applies to my partner, their brother and most of my Dutch friends. The only time they socialise with their work colleages is an organised event - which is totally different than a group of people wandering over to a bar on the spur of the moment.
The Dutch don't do spontaneous and just want to get back home to attend an event in their agenda which has been organised months ago.
This to be is the one defining social difference in the Dutch/UK social culture and is why, in my opinion, it's so hard to find friends here.
Of course you can join a club and do an activity, but you could be going to that club for years before anybody would think of including you in their personal lives - they are totally separate and it's very very rare the two mix.
I know my partner will refer to people at work who they have known for years as 'my work colleague' - they will never be thought of or refered to as a friend.
It's all very limiting and narrow which is exactly why ex-pats tend to gravitate towards each other - not because they particularly want to but because they are forced to through these circumstances, which is the way Dutch culture has formed itself.
When I see yet another post from some poor unsuspecting ex-pat telling of their failure to make friends and some bloody (normally Dutch or a totally unempathic person) response that it must be their fault I would like to draw them back to the reasons above. It's just not their fault that this is how society is in Holland and you can waste years trying to break down barriers and just end up frustrated and uphappy.
I do have people here I am friendly with and will see them for dinner etc. but my real friends are ex-pats, who, if I fancy a chat, I can ring up in the morning and be down the bar with them in the afternoon.