For those of you who are non-expats, allow me to take a minute to first explain what Inburgering means here in The Netherlands. For those of you in The Netherlands, feel free to skip this paragraph! Basically, when you move to The Netherlands and are a non-EU citizen, you are required to take an exam. This exam is about both the Dutch language and living in society here. There are a lot of different tracks you can take, you can also opt to do a portfolio in place, or in addition to the exam. To prepare you for this, the Gemeente (think Province) will provide classes for you. According to the Utrecht Gemeente website, this can be anywhere from 2 to 4 times a week. According to most expat blogs I've read, the trend seems to be 3 lessons a week, 3 hours each time, for a year. You are required to go to at least 80% of these classes or you have to pay all the money back. I'll probably have more information on this after Monday.
Most people are called for their initial interview after living here a lot longer than I have. I actually volunteered to start early. (I'll hold a second for your gasps). While most expats I know try to avoid this like the plague, I wanted to go ahead and start as soon as possible for a multitude of reasons. First, it is really time intensive and I would rather do it now when I have the time to devote to studying. Secondly, I am in the process of applying for Universities here, so I want to get more of a part time job to work during the next four years that I am hopefully in school. Part-time positions are more likely to require a working knowledge of Nederlands. In addition, rumors are that in a few years inburgering will still be required but not necessarily financed, do it while it is free is my attitude. Finally, the cultural part is probably a lot more useful if you are brand new than if you have been in the country awhile. A lot of people complain about this part because you should know it after you have lived here for a bit. I tend to not pay attention in class to stuff I already know, so this is another safe guard I have for myself.
When you read up about the process, almost everyone unanimously agrees that working with the Gemeente is one of the hard parts. There are a ton of stories of people being switched between different workers or not being contacted. I can already attest to this. I filled out the form to volunteer on March 1st, when I received an automatic email response telling me I would be emailed my initial appointment time in a max of two days. A week later and no such email, I called to see what was going on. After explaining my inquiry to three different people, I was told my information would be passed on to a colleague and hung up on. Last Friday, I called again and was informed that the office is closed on Fridays. Lovely! So, you can imagine my surprise when I got a letter in the mail yesterday telling me that my appointment is next Monday. Less than a week's notice! After my talk, I am required to take a placement test. I'm guessing I am still at the beginning level. Wish me luck!
*Also, I would like to apologize in advance for the numerous amount of Inburgering posts that will probably take over my blog since the Inburgeringscursus is about to take over my life!