The provinces of Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen are also known as the Northern Netherlands. The NAM office is located in Assen, the capital of Drenthe. Many employees live in the city of Groningen, capital of the province Groningen. These cities are about 30 km apart.
You can find more information on these cities by following these links:
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch (Nederlands). Frisian (Fries) is a second official language, only spoken in Friesland (province north-west in the Netherlands). You will hear a lot of dialects in different regions.
The Dutch are excellent linguists. English and German are widely understood and spoken. The normal business language in the Netherlands is Dutch. In some international organisations, it is possible to operate in English with limited Dutch. However, for your assimilation into any organisation, knowledge of Dutch is highly recommended. If you can start with tapes and books before arrival, this would be an advantage.
About Dutch Culture
The Dutch are known for their professionalism; they like to get down to business straight away and have a no-nonsense culture. At the first meeting hands are shaken. When introducing someone, his/her function is explained briefly and any applicable titles are mentioned. After this, people are called by their surnames only or even by their first names. Titles are not used after the introduction. Many foreigners who come to Holland to work find it surprising that even the managing director of the company is called by his/her first name! It is not done for the managing director of a Dutch company to drive too large a car.
Cultural Sensitivities - Do’s and Don’ts
- Do be punctual. No matter whether it is an appointment at the dentist or an invitation to a friend’s house, it is regarded as courteous to be strictly on time.
- Do shake hands when meeting someone new or when visiting someone in an official capacity, such as your doctor or dentist. It is also quite usual to shake hands again as you leave. When in doubt, look the person in the eye as you say goodbye and see if they stick out their hand! On social occasions, men and women alike frequently greet women acquaintances with three kisses instead of a handshake.
- Do take notice of the Dutch style of dress. The Dutch will dress informally for most occasions, but this is done with a sense of style. Casual does not mean sloppy.
- Do offer coffee! Anytime is coffee time in Holland, but if you have a workman in your house it will be much appreciated if you serve coffee at about 10:00 and 14:30hrs. Serve proper brewed coffee, not instant and not decaffeinated. Have plenty of milk (or better yet Dutch ‘koffiemelk’) and sugar on hand too.
- Do adapt to the dog loving culture. For a small country The Netherlands seems to have a disproportionate number of large dogs. If you have brought a dog, you will soon discover that a dog's life is very agreeable here. On the other hand, if your personal experience or cultural background has led you to fear dogs then you may find the number of dogs here rather stressful.
- Do not drop in unannounced to visit your Dutch friends. Make an appointment to visit first.
- Do not be offended if your Dutch friend gets out her agenda and says that she would love to meet you for lunch, in three weeks time. Many Dutch people live very scheduled lives and plan well ahead; this lack of spontaneity is not usually an attempt to put you off.