Habits Hang picked up since living in the Netherlands

‘Hang In There’ is a weekly series hosted by our Marketing & Communication intern: Hang Vu. After 2 years of studying in the Netherlands, Hang wants to share her most honest experiences with other internationals who are also living in the Netherlands generally and in Eindhoven specifically.

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Living in the Netherlands for 2 years might sound as not so much, but it is enough for Hang to absorb a little bit of 'Dutchie’ vibes into her veins. What kind of habits did she pick up? Find out now!

#1 In the Netherlands, let's be fully prepared for the weather

To be honest, I did not do much research about the weather before my departure to the Netherlands.

That's why I was quite surprised with one of the first questions that my student buddy, who is a true Dutch, asked me when we met: "Are you ready for the weather?". Firstly, in Vietnam, we do not talk about the weather during the first conversation, since the weather in my country is quite predictable. Secondly, when I arrived here, the sun was shining, and it seemed pretty normal for typical weather in the last week of August. So, well, I told her “I think I will be fine since I like this lovely weather"...

However, all good things must come to an end, and the Dutch weather brought me back to earth soon. A week later, the summer feeling disappeared in a blink of an eye, replaced by the cloudy and rainy weather like in the middle of December. I thought it was going to be a cold day, so I decided to put on my thick, fluffy coat immediately. But, around three hours later, it was hot and sunny again. For a newbie, my winter coat and I were completely shocked by these rapid changes. However, for most of my Dutch friends, that is nowhere near a shock to them, since they are always well-prepared for any weather conditions. At that moment, I realized why my buddy asked me that question.

Therefore, my friends, from my experiences, I would advise you to never leave a light (waterproof) jacket and an umbrella at home. These two, besides other important belongings like your wallet and your phone, should always be your ready-to-go set.

cycling in the Netherlands
Being well-prepared for the weather will help you have a worry-free day!

Tip: Since you cannot have faith in the sign of the sky and symbols on the weather forecast on your phone, I highly recommend you to check Buienradar before dressing up. This is one of the most accurate websites that you can rely on since you can see which direction the wind is blowing or where the clouds are heading to. Or you can download Buienalarm on your phone for a daily check-up. If you accidentally forget your umbrella, with Buienalarm, there is a higher chance that you can save yourself from getting wet. Of course, it is not a 100% guarantee!

#2 In the Netherlands, let's bring your own grocery shopping bag

Going to the supermarket has always been one of my hobbies. And I used to go there with my hands-free until I found out that for each plastic bag that I took from the supermarket, I would be charged €0,10-€0,30.

So, if you have the same hobby as me, please bear in mind that Dutch people care a lot about the environment and our planet. Therefore, if you do not want to throw money out the window, carrying your tote/shopping bag to the supermarket and always having an extra one in your casual bag will be a wise option. The last thing you want to do is to build a high stack of groceries in your arms.

tote bag for grocery shopping
A tote bag will help you avoid purchasing more plastic bags.
Photo credit: Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

Over time, this habit makes me feel good, and I am so glad that I adopted it soon. Protecting our environment by shopping responsibly, why not?

#3 In the Netherlands, let's separate and recycle trash on a schedule

Speaking of environmental protection, let's come to my third 'Dutchie’ habit to prove my point. Do you think that trash can only be divided into recycled and non-recycled bins? In an extremely 'green' land like the Netherlands, nuh-uh. To adhere to the environmental sustainability policies, there are several rules and regulations for you to keep in mind about trash disposal and recycling.

Depends on each city/village, the waste management may vary a little bit. To have a clear understanding, it is better to check it on your municipality website. In this article, let's take Eindhoven as an example:

For each household, you will be given 4 waste containers: 3 grey bins, each for paper (papier en karton) waste, plastic and glass waste and other waste (restafval), which cannot be reused and recycled; 1 green bin for organic disposal (GFT).

For paper, residual, and GFT containers, they will be emptied once every two weeks. The specific dates depend on each waste management partner of the municipality, and you can find the waste calendar online.

Plastic and glass disposal are different, but it is similar in every city. Since these are recycled materials, you can find recycling dumpsters in many locations around your city, especially in front of the supermarket. In each supermarket or at big gas stations along the highway, you can also deposit emptied glass/plastic/mini bottles and get €0,15 back!

Fact: Do you know: For every two million tons of sorted paper and glass in the Netherlands, nearly 90% of them get recycled and have another life as new products.

If you live in a student housing/studio/apartment building in a big city, you will be given a chip card (or an environmental city pass) to dispose of your domestic waste in a big underground container, and there is no fixed schedule for it.

Waste management in the Netherlands might be a little confusing for new residents at first, but sooner or later, you will get used to it, and separating trash will turn into an unconscious habit.

For further details, check out our article about recycling in the Netherlands!


written by Hang

As a travel freak who moved from Hanoi to Eindhoven, I love spending my day discovering new angles of this city and learning about the country from the locals. Hopefully, my articles would help you step-by-step entering the world of Dutch culture and make your every day in the Netherlands ‘a great stay’!