Everything happening ridiculously early

Dinner time!

You could say the Dutch are “early birds.” From what I’ve observed, they like their routines, they like to do things on schedule, and they like to do it early. For example, at my office, we work 9am to 5:30pm – literally.

One night I tried to work “late,” and before 6pm the manager came to my desk and asked me to hurry up and leave so he could lock up the office. Nobody stays late. People show up on time, work hard and efficiently, take thirty minutes lunch, and leave on time. Oftentimes, everyone leaves the office together in a group to catch the same train home (and similarly, they arrive together in the morning on the same train from Amsterdam).

The Dutch also have a habit of eating regularly and eating early. In my office, we all eat lunch together as a team every day starting around 12:45pm to 1pm (a normal time for me). But in my boyfriend’s office, lunch is from 12pm sharp to 12:30pm. He told me that some people go for lunch as early as 11:45 or 11:30am! Likewise for dinner, I’ve walked past restaurants at 5:55pm and seen people already being served their main course. I just can’t imagine how a Portuguese or Italian person would cope with that.

Shops also tend to shut very early; at 6pm on most days. My office is located above a shopping centre, and if you walk through it at 6pm, everything is already shut and the place is deserted. I never understood how these opening hours are compatible with full-time work. Perhaps that is why everyone is in such a rush to leave the office at 5:30pm? 

On Saturdays place close even earlier (at 5pm) and on Sunday shops aren’t open at all (except for the first Sunday of the month, which is “shopping Sunday.”) On Thursdays, there is “late night” shopping and the stores are open until 9pm. I don’t think there are any 24/7 stores.

Anyhow, I best get going, it’s 11:45am and it’s time for lunch!


About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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2 Responses to Everything happening ridiculously early

  1. Eefje says:

    The strict opening-hours can be a pain in the ass for people with similar work-hours (which is almost everybody). Everything needs to be done on thursday-evenings and saturdays. (Often groceries for the entire week.) I have alternating work-hours and wouldn’t know how to do groceries for an entire week at once, because I don’t have to.

  2. Pingback: Koopzondag « What the Dutch

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