Polish vs. Dutch people: How We Differ And What We Have In Common

A while ago, I wrote a guest post for fellow travel bloggers of Always Trekking on 5 Differences between the Dutch and Poles (from a Pole’s perspective) and that made me think I should also share my thoughts here too, on my blog. As I was living among Dutch people for a week (I know it is not enough to make objective comments or judgement),  I was able  to observe how they behave and live and confront it with the lifestyle and way of thinking of Polish people. Being in Holland actually made me realize how we (Polish people) differ from them (the Dutch) and here are the results of my observations:

#1 Dutch people are more domestic

This so amazing to look at Dutch families having fun on Sunday morning in the garden or having ice cream in the town. Without a doubt, Dutch people care a lot about their families and spend a lot of time together. The family always seems to go first. Grandparents take their grandchildren to football matches, parents watch TV with their kids, play in the garden and have a lot of fun together. Unfortunately, in most Polish families parents don’t find enough time for their kids. Everyone works their asses off to provide basic necessities for their kids so instead of playing football with their kids, parents work overtime at work.

A girl in Amsterdam
Me exploring Amsterdam 

#2 Dutch people smile more often

That worries me the most about Polish people. They don’t smile a lot. They do look so miserable when walking down the streets. They don’t say hi if they don’t know you. They don’t stop to wave at you. Everyone is busy, unhappy and looks pretty depressed, especially in big cities. It’s such a cold and unwelcoming atmosphere in some places in Poland and it scares tourists off. In Holland, locals wave  at you in the street even when they don’t know you, they always say hi when they see you and stop to have a little chat. It is so polite, you wouldn’t believe it! They are very friendly and kind-hearted people. Poles, we need to smile more often, that’s for sure!

a woman and a girl are smiling efteling, duch
Snapshot from Efteling

#3 Dutch people trust their neighbours a lot

In Holland, you can leave your front door open and nobody will walk in without asking your permission. Neighbors rely on each other, they trust each other and care a lot. It is something incredible! They pay each other unexpected visits, bring some shopping and invite each other for birthday and housewarming parties, Sunday BBQ or tea time in a garden. It might sound awful, but in Poland, some neighbors are real enemies. They compete against each other making sure they have a better car, better-looking house and so on. Sometimes this rivalry has no limits, and one thing is certain – you should not trust anyone in the neighborhood.

Typical Dutch houses - Madurodam
Typical Dutch houses – Madurodam

#4 Dutch people are frugal, but not stingy

There are some silly stereotypes about the Dutch in Poland such as they are tall and skinny like a stick and very mean and greedy.  It’s true that many Dutch keep a tight watch over their money, but saying that they are greedy is way too exaggerated. They are definitely more money wise than Poles. We spend money on expensive holidays, nights out with friends, good cars and nice apartments. We don’t really save much, we don’t think about the future, we live like it’s gonna be the last day of our lives and  there is one thing for sure – we should learn from Dutch people how to keep an eye on our savings (if we start having some at all).

Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Random bike in the street of Amsterdam

 #5 Dutch people are definitely more tolerant and open-minded

I am so sorry for all gay couples in Poland. They must be discriminated, people must be picking on them and give them dirty looks. Yeah, welcome to Poland – a country ruled by the Catholic Church which does not approve lesbian and gay couples. Actually, older people consider being a gay/lesbian as an illness and keep saying “it’s a disease of 21st century!” The majority of Polish society is disguised by them whereas in Holland nobody cares and you can express your sexuality without being judged. That’s right!

A woman riding a bike in Hague
Some people in Hague don’t need a car

#6 Poles know how to have fun

We are very hospitable people especially when it comes to warm welcoming of foreigners with a few shots of vodka. It starts from just one and you end up on absolutely drunk and knocked down after few extra shots. When we have fun, we mean it and we dance and drink till the next morning, sometimes afternoon. Our weddings are so fun much fun while we enjoy the traditional Polish dishes between drinking and dancing. People go absolutely crazy with the alcohol, but I guess it will never change. We have it in the blood like Russians :). Dutch people, as opposed to Poles, prefer to party in a very posh, “well-behaved” way. They indulge themselves in a glass or two of red wine, they have a family dinner together, some cake, they chat a lot, dance, watch TV and play cards – all in moderation. Sorry, but we can’t do it this way!

Two people are smiling at Polish wedding
The Polish wedding I attended last December

 What differences can you see between the Dutch and your country fellows?

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"

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  • Very interesting comparisons there Agness. I can certainly notice many of the comments on the Dutch. Sadly you’ve challenged some of my experiences of Polish people who I’ve often found to be friendly. Mind you I’ve only been to Poland once so far and I can relate more to the Polish I meet in the UK.

    • It’s not like every Polish person is rude or unfriendly, but we are so miserable people in comparison to always smiling Dutch. The UK is the second home of Poles so I bet you can hear some Polish in the street every single day :).

      • One of my good friends married a Polish girl. They just had a baby girl a few weeks ago so she is very happy at the moment :-)

        You have interesting observations and we should always be careful not to stereo-type any type of people. Yourself and Cez seem like very happy people so you defy the description you’ve given :-)

      • Congratulations to your friend! Me and Cez are really positive and friendly people, indeed – online as well as in a real life! :D

  • Even though the Netherlands is so close to the UK, they’re such different people! Since moving here three years ago from Australia I’ve found that they do have their quirks – they are a bit obsessed with money (it’s the only place where you have to pay more to see a movie if it’s longer than two hours) and they do trust their neighbours a lot – if we get a package delivered and we’re not home, the mailman just gives it to a neighbour. I don’t find them particularly friendly or welcoming though – they will smile at you but it’s hard to get to know them better beyond that.

    • As for the Dutch and they great connection with neighbours, it’s crazy how much you can trust people who live next door. It’s awesome though! I found them really open-minded and outgoing, never had any problems with getting to know them closer.

  • Following your description, I find Polish more similar to Spaniards than I expected (except by the fact of being always working)
    Spanish mentality is also “Your worth what you have” and they spend absurds amount of money to impress their neighbors, which they don’t give a shit about their life.
    Also, don’t even consider to step out to the corner shop quickly to buy bread. When you go back home, they will be already taken all your belonging, including nails and pipes.
    ah, this crazy world!

    • Really? I thought we are more like Russians and Spanish are more like Greek and Italian people :). Thanks for sharing!!

      • Spanish and Polish have very little in common (I’ve lived with Poles in Barcelona for 7 years!). Spanish are more like Greek, Italians and Portuguese, whereas Poles are more like other Slavic countries, you’re right Agnes :)

  • Interesting observations! While I have yet to visit Poland or Holland, I will definitely keep this post in mind when the day comes to see if I notice the same things. :)

  • Great post as always, Agness, but it sure threw me for a loop. Because of my interactions and friendship with you I’ve been given a far different, incredibly positive impression of you being Polish. And I made another Polish friend who is also incredibly friendly and nice. Maybe there needs to be Golden Retrievers all over Poland, huh??? :)

    • Maybe hahahaha :) good point. It’s great to keep in touch and I really appreciate all of your kind and sweet comments! FRIENDS FOREVER!

    • Hey ho! Thanks for stopping by. I feel so honored to be the first Polish person you’ve met :D. Hope I made a good impression on you :).

  • Very interesting comparison Agness. You’ve been very critical of your own people, not everybody can be like that when it’s to do with his own country. I found Polish people very friendly indeed and helpful too. I don’t know many Dutch people, but my first CS experience was in Amsterdam and the Dutch guy who hosted us was super friendly, very open-minded and really easy going, he left me a very good impression of Dutch people :)

    • Yep, I’ve been pretty critical, but that’s so true. I know that everyone is different, but this is the general opinion on Poles :). I’m so glad the Dutch guy made a good impression on you. I actually didn’t know you did some couchsurfing in Amsterdam. Need to read it on your blog soon :).

  • GREAT post! I loved it!

    I’ve lived with 7 Poles in Barcelona and I’ve been dating one for the last 14 years (yeah! A lot!) and of course I have also my opinion about the Poles and the cultural differences between our cultures, since I’m a latina from Portugal.

    We actually have a lot of things in common, it’s crazy! Even the sounds of our languages are identical. We’re both from very castrating Catholic cultures and both of us are super welcoming and hospitable towards tourists.

    I find the Poles warmer and nicer than most “northern” people. I was always treated so well every time I went to Poland. We’re both from poor countries, although people in Poland have a better education and work harder.

    Now the differences are mostly related to the extremely warm, extrovert and loud latino/Mediterranean culture vs a Slavic northerner culture which is more reserved, quieter and yes, less smiling.

    I’ve noticed within my circle of Polish friends, that they’re are always there for you when you need a friend, whereas Portuguese people are not reliable and often make excuses. The Portuguese are also more of a “cheap talker” type, who talk a lot but don’t really mean what they say.

    • I’m so happy you had such an amazing experience with Poles. 14 years? Yep, it’s crazy! We are very hospitable people when it comes to looking after foreign guests and visitors :).

  • I’ve lived in 5 different countries so far and one thing I’ve noticed that makes Poles very different from other nationalities is the critical way they look at themselves (which your article shows very well). Poles are always ready to criticize each other and negatively compare themselves to others. Would you agree?
    I’ve never been to the Netherlands, but it would be interesting to know how critical they are about their own ways and mentality :)

    • Yes, that’s so true! I totally agree. I guess it’s because we don’t believe in ourselves and we are such miserable and jealous people (not all, but the majority). That must change. We need more positive energy and we definitely need to stop judging others and each other!

  • This is so interesting! I don’t have much to contribute, but being 50% Polish it’s really fascinating to hear your thoughts about Polish culture. I’ve recently gotten really interested in my roots and wanting to learn more about my heritage and Polish customs, celebrations, etc. Hopefully one day I’ll actually get to visit Poland :)

    • That’s wonderful Casey. Hope you can make it to Poland soon and learn something more about the country and the people.

  • These comparisons are interesting. But realize that poland’s economy was terrible in the 80’s and 90’s, so different/poorer living conditions lead to change in lifestyle and habits. Just to note 21 million live outside Poland and as opposed to 38 million residing in the country. In general Holland is a liberal nation whereas Poland is conservative

  • Yeah, a week seems like a short time to some people — but as most travelers know, even 24 hours in a country can be enough to get you past the stereotypes you grew up with. It took me about 20 minutes in Japan to realize that I we were waaaaay off base about what Japan is. lol As for the Netherlands, I thought it was great. And I know what you mean about the fairly civilized, organized and somewhat restrained way they do things — yet at all times being really friendly and outgoing. Poland is a place I have yet to visit — but the students we have at my uni from Poland are all pretty awesome, and they smile a lot. In fact, so do YOU! So you’re kind of disproving your own stereotype of yourself. lol

  • Interesting differences that you’ve pointed out. It’s too bad that it’s so much harder to get my in Poland. Financial stress is always a downer. We had Polish neighbours for years and loved them to bits – always kind, generous and welcoming. That’s my take on Polish people.

  • When I lived in Netherlands, my neighbor was Polish, but he had all the characteristics you have mentioned for Dutch. He was extremely friendly, laughs loud, come visit us with sweets and flowers, even owed us their electric heater for few days. We talked about Polish, Dutch and Indian culture for hours. I found him really cool. Dutch people are really tall, but the size of their bathrooms suck!

  • Hi Agness Walewinder,
    THANKS for making well understand about Polish vs. Dutch! I never been in neither Polish or Dutch But it’s really great thing. To know about both Polish and Dutch. THANK you Agness.

  • This was so interesting to read – in the States I made friends with people who were of Dutch and Polish heritage, but not actually from either country (grandparents were first gen Americans, etc.) But I have to say that most of the things you said are still true of them as well! So interesting how customs and values (good and bad) are passed down from generation to generation!

  • Hi Agness. It’s me again, Huong from Vietnam.
    You can find out the above personality traits in any country. Everyone in the world have many similarities, it doesn’t depend on race or gender.

    I’ve seen a lot people with the above traits in many countries.
    When we travel, we always face many kinds of person, someone is rude, arrogant, complacent and someone is really nice, modest, humour…
    We always have awkward and good experience, two opposites of the same coin.

  • Just discovered your site. Interesting article as I’m a half-Dutch and half-Polish traveller. I have definitely experienced 6) when meeting Polish people, as they always want me to prove I have got the Polish spirit by downing some vodka :)

  • Ofcourse the Dutch being friendly and openminded is a slightly biased view, since those that are not so will never engage you in the first place, so you only meet the outgoing types, which i presume would skew your view of our little country. And while i know my neighbours to some extent (i recognize them and nod hello when i see them) i’d never leave my door unlocked, since that’s just asking to be burglarized (but maybe that’s just a general ‘big’ city thing all over the world (we don’t really have big cities ofcourse, but i digress)).
    Also we don’t just party in moderation :)

  • Nice to read, although I am not so sure about our ‘well behaved way of partying’. Have you been to King’s day or any other type of festival really. Things get a bit uncivilized at those sometimes. :-)

  • My first orientation of Polish and Poland was through our late, beloved Saint Pope John Paul II as I’ve seen him twice during his Papal visit in the Philippines when I was a child and later in 1995 in college.
    I have not traveled to Europe specifically to the the Baltic states but as I have been living in America for seventeen years now, all I have been drawn to more are Polish!
    My bestfriend since 2002 is Polish. The first person at work to give me a gift for my soon-to-be born son in 2001 was Polish. The one who taught me how to drive, Mr.W is Polish. Then for 10 years now, my only neighbor on my right since I live in a corner house are an old Polish couple.They are quiet, hardworking, modest and helpful people. We do trust one another for mails, going on vacation, and help on garden work, and give each other presents on Holidays which we both share since we are both solid Roman Catholics.
    To make it short, I love Polish people. There is so much in them that I see in our Filipino culture and that goes for other countries that has Spanish influenced in them.
    My observations based on experience:
    1) Polish like to drink, equally or more but not less than Russians!!!Hard or beer :) Wine, occasionally.
    2) They work hard. They dont mind getting their hands dirty. Some are modest but others live beyond their means which happens to any other people from other countries even to natural-born Americans.
    3) Polish men and women talk loud. They hardly whisper. They just enjoy conversations, up front or over the phone.
    4) Polish are helpful people in any way they can to people they’ve built trust over the years especially.
    5) Going to church on Sundays, Easter, and Christmas is a must unless you’re working or not feeling well.
    6) Polish loves their food and other good food too. But no matter what, at least have some boiled potatoes, add some butter and dill on top if you can. :) Polish rye bread should always be available and sweets. =)
    7) They expect women to take care of the cooking and clothes and Men, they do the rest, as in the rest!!!
    And lastly, being in a relationship with a polish man for 3 years gave me more knowledge on my previously-learned Polish culture. They’re not complicated people at all. Very simple and easy to please. They can truly be your bestfriend in and out of bed! Thank you Agness for your interesting blog!~ Mary

  • Sorry but majority of your points are completely missed. Have lived in both Poland and Holland I found that polish people are definitely much more family orientated, although Dutch families are also close. Seems like an article written by insecure person. Sorry won’t be back again.

    • Mark, you seem very secure. Secure that you know you are an asshole. Fuck off and eat some keilbasa, moron.

  • I read the article (not all the commentary). I am an American traveling in Poland at the moment. I have been here over 2 months and traveled to many different cities. Polish people are remarkably loving and attentive to their children in public (from an American perspective). All the playgrounds all full of happy children and attentive, nuturing parents.

  • Very interesting point of view. I would not call Dutch people super warm people. They are polite that is true, that is why it looks like they are so friendly and open-minded. However, it is just an outside, I think most of them have a ”double face”, whereas polish people are more honest that is why it might look that they are not smiling to much, because they are not fake and don’t try to pretend for someone. I don’t know how about others, but honesty for me seems more warm than fakeness.

  • Great read Agness!
    Although i think your view of Dutch people is too positive.
    I am Dutch myself and i don’t recognize the view that most Dutch people smile or wave their hands to unkown people.

    And these days, only people in places with very few immigrants will leave their house without closing windows and locking doors.
    And yes, native Dutch people are tolerant towards homosexuals, but muslim immigrants (a large group in Netherlands) are mostly very intolerant.

  • So funny….
    When I was in The Netherlands, the nicest people I met were…Americans, Malaysian and some girls from other countries.
    I won’t lie If I say that- the nicest was my Dutch cat and those American girls and few others.
    Please bear in mind – smiling it’s not always related to good wishing. The fact some nationalities smile all the time, it doesn’t mean they wish you luck.
    What about help that polish people provided to Dutch during the II World War?

    Please don’t create a bad picture of your own nationality. It doesn’t look good.

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