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.

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

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.


First of all, don’t drink in public places. This means that you can’t drink alcohol anywhere except in places like bars, restaurants, cafés and discotheques.


In contradiction to what most people think, 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. 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.
  • 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. After English, German is the most commonly spoken foreign language.
  • There are bicycles everywhere. Aside from having absolute priority everywhere on the roads, they also make drinking nights a hazard. English visitors have "do not fall, it hurts" deeply ingrained into their subconscious, so even when drunk the life preservation instinct kicks in. In the Netherlands, even that is not safe. Immediately when you step outside a café you run the risk of colliding with a high-speed cyclist.