This page gives you some general information about Dutch people and their habits so that you do not feel completely lost when you just arrived in the Netherlands and Wageningen.

For more information, you can check : ISS holland helps you with everything you need when you start studying in The Netherlands!

First 3 tips after arrival

  1. Arrange a bike
  2. Buy a raincoat
  3. Pick up a free Lebara Simcard for a Dutch Phone number at the ESN office. Especially in COVID-19 times having a Dutch phone number is crucial, as you might need one for example to get your PCR test result. 

Do's and don'ts

In Wageningen, you can behave pretty much like you normally do. However, there are a couple of things you should and shouldn’t do.

Alcohol & Drugs

First of all, don’t drink in public places. This means that officially you can’t drink alcohol anywhere except in places like bars, restaurants, cafés and discotheques. In contradiction to what most people think, most drugs in the Netherlands are still illegal. The police, however, allows you to have a small amount (5 grams) of marihuana for usage at home or at a coffee shop. The usage of drugs is forbidden in public places. Be aware that drugs might be a bit stronger in the Netherlands than in your home country. Never mix drugs with alcohol.


It is prohibited to smoke cigarettes indoors. It’s no problem if you smoke on the streets, but when you enter any kind of building you should not smoke. In most student residences it is not allowed to smoke in the common areas. It is also prohibited to smoke cigarettes inside of restaurants, bars and clubs. You will have to go outside or into a special smoking area inside. The whole campus of Wageningen University is smoke free too. If you wish to smoke at university, you have to leave the premises.  Sometimes the owner allows people to smoke inside, you will recognise this by the smell and ashtrays on the tables. The owners of these places take a risk to be fined to let you smoke.


It is also required (by law) to have your passport or European ID card with you all the time. If the police ask you to show your identification, you have to be able to show it. The fines for not carrying a valid ID card are high.

Some not so serious facts about Dutch people

  • Dutch people are very direct. Depending on your point of view, this can be rude, tactless or refreshing.
  • Dutch people, and especially Dutch students, are not necessarily known for their generosity. That is, when having a meal with someone, do not be too surprised to receive a "tikkie" (a payment request) afterwards. It is called "going Dutch" for a reason ;) 
  • The French speak French, and the Germans speak German. Italians speak Italian, Spanish people speak Spanish. You can't say Netherlanders speak Nederlandish. The people are the Dutch, and the language is Dutch:). Almost all Dutch can speak English and are willing to do so. In fact, it might be difficult to try to learn Dutch in the Netherlands, because many people will just automatically switch to English even though you want them to speak Dutch.  After English, German is the most commonly spoken foreign language.
  • There are bicycles everywhere. In Wageningen, we cycle everywhere. Do not expect to find many students with their own car. Aside from having absolute priority everywhere on the roads, they also make drinking nights a hazard. Trained Dutchies are experts at cycling while drunk, but international students might need some practice before hopping on their bike after a few beers.