A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Let Me Check My Diary

Here in the Netherlands, life goes by appointments. We can simply call it as “diary culture”. Whether electronic or traditional, dairies constitute an inseparable part of daily life.

Are you a keyboard person or a pen person?

Being in order is pretty important to Dutch society. They give great importance to the time and planning. Therefore, they make appointments almost for everything you can think of.

For example; you don’t feel well and you want to see your registered general practitioner (huisarts), then you have to make an appointment prior to your visit… Do you plan to meet your friend to grab a coffee and to chitchat a bit? Try to ask him/her as early as possible so that you can set a date… Even most of the hairdressers require appointment unless it works “zonder afspraak” (without appointment). These dates may be set for the next week but also for two months later. But attention! Once you made one, you should appear on time!  

Fun Fact: Sometimes you may see people making an appointment to discuss when they will have an appointment.

If you are a person already accustomed to live by a programme, you’ll quite swiftly adapt yourself to this “diary culture”. If you are not, don’t worry, things will make you write down the dates. I didn’t use to a regular diary before I came to the Netherlands either. However, even the classes for a given course were not planned to take place on the same day and time of the week. This was a pretty new sort of schedule for me because in my bachelor studies the day and time of each course used to get determined at the beginning of the academic year and would be kept exactly the same during all the year. Eventually, I was urged to begin keeping a diary at least for the date of classes. However, after a while, I started to note even every item on my daily to-do list.

The Netherlands, The lands of appointment.

Here are some of the good sides and downsides of the appointment culture.

Good sides:

  • Having a clear mind,
  • Not to bother yourself by keeping things on your mind (just write them down),
  • Zeroing the risk of “Crikey! I forgot…”,
  • No last minute rush as you planned it days before or even weeks


  • Sometimes having to wait for days to visit a general practitioner,
  • Kills the spontaneous enthusiasm to a large extent.

Do you like using diary? Which type of diary do you prefer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!  

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2019 by in Culture, Culture Shock, Living in Holland, Tarık_Ünal and tagged , , .

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