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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.
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.
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.