Saturday was an exciting day here, I unexpectedly received the paperwork to renew my residence permit. I know, it doesn't seem like enough time has passed for me to be thinking about renewal! I'll be sending in the paperwork tomorrow, you need to have a black pen to fill out part of it, and even though I just had 60 black pens sent to my mom's house from Amazon so that she can bring me a ton of school supplies when she comes in August, we didn't have a single back pen in the house! So I had to go buy one today. The paperwork itself is so far considerably less than last time.
For me, the decision to renew my visa, which should be for 5 years this time because I am on a partnership visa,was not something that required any thought on my part. I am happy with my partner, in the process of inburgering, starting an undergrad program in September, and I have great friends here. Sure, life is a lot different than what I imagined it would be when I was planning to move here, but I am not sure that I would change it back to my original plans, even if I could. It was tough there for awhile, trying to figure out where I fit in here after getting rejection after rejection on the career front, but I look back at that time, which coincidentally coincided with the darkest, coldest months of the year, and I never once thought about packing up and going back to Georgia. I think this had a lot to do with my attitude that this is my life, this is not temporary, so I better make it work!
Not everyone renews though, I've heard that the first year in a new place is the hardest. Hopefully that is the case, this year was pretty tough. I would be really interested to see some data on how many expats return home during the first year, or decide not to renew. After all, according to several polls, The Netherlands is the least friendly place for expats. There is no shame in not making it. This life definitely is not for everyone. However, If you are currently a struggling expat, or you are about to become an expat, I have two pieces of advice.
1. You have to really, really want to make it work. Nothing is going to turn out the way you thought, and you are going to have to be prepared to roll with the punches.
2. Don't give yourself a timeline. If you say you are going to give it a year, your entire experience will be a countdown until the year is up. Instead, treat it as this is your life for the foreseeable future. If you are really unhappy you can always go back home. But as a very wise man on TV is known to say, "Make it work!"
Thanks for sticking out the rough months with me my dear readers! Your support means the world to me!
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