A subject that has come up a few times on websites & blogs that I read is “The expat trap.” Basically, it warns against hanging out with other expats too much, the theory being that you wind up in this bubble of English-speaking people who aren’t really very integrated with the surrounding society.
I see the merit behind this argument, as really the only way to fit into society is to be friends with the locals. In that regard, it would be great to have some Dutch friends. On the other hand, one of the reasons I moved out of the US was to experience people & cultures different to my own. I refuse to de-value someone’s friendship because they happen to be from New Zealand, Portugal, Ireland, France, or any other number of countries.
Back in the US, we just keep hearing that the rest of the world hates us. Maybe the Brits are okay with us, and we get along with Japan just fine, but many countries really don’t like us. I have not yet found this to be true. Everybody I’ve met, from a diverse range of countries, has been nothing but friendly, and few people have negative words. I’ve found the people of Europe to be quite informed about the US, at least much more so than Americans are about their home countries.
I enjoy hearing other expats compare live in the Netherlands to their home countries, which helps me see how things work around the world. For instance, I was talking with a Portuguese woman last night, and she said when looking for an apartment in Portugal, you just walk into local cafes or stores and ask the workers if they know of any local apartments for rent. Since cafes are the center of social life, they’ll know everything about the surrounding neighborhood. She tried that here in Amsterdam and got weird looks from people.
In summary, yes, making Dutch friends is important (and something I hope to accomplish), but making friends from anywhere can be just as rewarding.