How to Make Dutch FriendsHow to Make Dutch Friends

Do you have many Dutch friends? It might sound like an odd question to put to internationals living in the Netherlands, but it isn’t.

Many internationals have no problem meeting Dutch people but when it comes to forming real friendships that’s when things get difficult.

Expat surveys back this up. The HSBC bank conducts a yearly survey on expat experiences in 45 countries around the world and the Netherlands scores badly on making friends and social life.

This time in the Here in Holland podcast internationals talk about their experience when it comes to making Dutch friends and there are some great tips too on how to melt the ice with the Dutch.

Feeling isolated

One of the expats featured in the podcast is Haseeb from Pakistan. An IT professional who has lots of expat friends but no real Dutch friends.

“Yeah it makes you feel a bit isolated, like you are not really taking part and you don’t really know what is going on around you,” he says.

Cheryl is an international student from Hong Kong:

“The Dutch are more comfortable in their own social circles and as an outsider, an invader, it is very difficult to break in.”

Take the initiative

Judy is from the US and lived as an international in Germany before coming to the Netherlands:

“I would say to people don’t expect people to come knocking on your door – they might, but don’t expect it. You have to make the effort yourself. It’s the same whether you are in Germany, the US or the Netherlands.”

Give the Dutch a reason to be with you

How to Make Dutch FriendsThis sentiment is echoed by Vassia Sarantopoulou who runs the Anti-Loneliness Project

“You need to insist on social contact and you need to keep on insisisting. If you are turned down once or twice just keep on going.”

“The Dutch need a reason to do things so give them a reason, find a common interest or hobby not just meeting over beers.”


The city of Leiden is organising an event at the end August We Are Leiden to bring locals and newcomers together.

Newcomers will get a city tour and then there’s a picnic. The event is free and is being run by local cultural organisations. All internationals are welcome.

Video of internationals talking about the experiences of trying to make friends with the Dutch.

Here in Holland is the podcast in English about life with the Dutch – it’s produced by Andy Clark  – contact him via or Facebook – website – you can subscribe to get all the podcasts in via your iPhone podcast app or your Android app of choice.  Or follow on Soundcloud