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Meeting People

Meeting People in the Northern Netherlands

As it is everywhere for adults, the question of how to meet people can be a challenging one, especially if you’ve just arrived in a new country. If you came to the Netherlands with a job offer in hand and are able to meet people at work, the question is mostly answered for you, luckily! However, even then, becoming friends with colleagues at work in the Netherlands is less common, as many Dutch people tend to keep their work and private lives separate.

If you are the trailing partner of a new employee, the usual answer of “the workplace” to the question of “Where can I meet people?” doesn’t hold true in your case. It’s possible to meet people at your partner’s workplace, but this is not often realistic. After all, you’ll be meeting people who are working during times of the day when you’ll be free. In other countries, companies normally put on get-togethers where partners and/or families can interact. However, in the Netherlands, it is not common that company get-togethers include the partners or spouses of the employees.

When moving to a new neighborhood, it is customary for you, as the new person, to introduce yourself to your neighbors. Remember to shake hands and say your name when meeting them.

In the northern region of the Netherlands, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that most employers will be ok with you not speaking Dutch. In fact, most employers deem it extremely important that an employee knows the language well enough to interact with administrative workers, colleagues, clients, and many other people that need to be dealt with during the course of the working day.

This shortcoming of not yet knowing the language may potentially be a temporary barrier to getting the job you want, so building a network of people as soon as possible is important. This is mainly because humans are social beings, but also because a network of people can help each other.

If you have children, there is almost a built-in network with children, schools, and their activities, and you at least have a common bond with other parents who may be in the same circumstances as yourself. You can meet other like-minded people at school gatherings, parent meetings, child parties and get-togethers, meet-and-greet school events, and so on.

Ideas

However, what about the rest of us? Or what if you would like to meet people outside of work or school? Well, here’s a list of ideas to create a network of people who may become your friends, or at least become one of your acquaintances, so that you can begin to feel at home here in Northern Netherlands.

  • Join ex-pat groups, such as Connect International, InterNations or an international student group; they have events and get-togethers on a regular basis and can represent all three provinces
  • Enroll in language courses (see the Education section).
  • Participate in language meetup groups (Humanitas, Gezellig Nederlands).
  • Join a public speaking club (Toastmasters, POWERtalk International).
  • Take crafts, arts, and garden courses.
  • Attend sports courses or workshops at your local sports complex or gym.
  • Participate in a comedy improvisation group (Stanger Things Have Happened)
  • Join sports associations (sportverenigingen) (see the Leisure section).
  • Join social media groups. Facebook has several groups in each province that usually have to do with “expats” or whatever interest or hobby you have.
  • Do a culinary workshop (also offered through various restaurants in the northern region).
  • Join religious organizations or events (see the Religion section).
  • Seek volunteer opportunities (see the Leisure section).
  • Go to sporting events (search the internet for your favorite sport and region).
  • Participate in the arts and culture (theaters, playhouses, music clubs, art clubs, museums, etc.)
  • Host a get-together for some of your partner’s colleagues and their families. It can be small (such as a coffee night) or large (such as a potluck). Note: you may want to review the Customs section to see the typical norms.
  • Write and submit articles for local newspapers or newsletters, based on your experiences or interests.
  • Have an outdoor neighborhood coffee event or barbecue or potluck; be sure to invite everyone, so everyone knows what’s happening, even if they decide not to participate.
  • Visit your local artist (he or she may have workshops, exhibitions, or information on activities or groups you may be interested in).
  • Attend local concerts, bands, musical performances and ask about joining or volunteering.
  • Be a contestant in an international pub quiz that frequently occur in some of the local cafes.
  • Join a professional organization associated with your expertise and attend their events.
  • Get, borrow, or volunteer to walk a dog. It’s amazing how many people you can meet at dog parks.

Whatever you do, be proactive and get involved. Talk to the people you meet: tell a bit about yourself and ask questions about them. If you are looking for work, mention this to the people you meet. Many jobs are found through just this type of networking. The sooner you start building up your personal network, whether it’s for social or business purposes, the more at home you will feel.