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expat in the netherlands

New Job, Birthday, Parents, and School Orientation. August is Shaping Up to be a Great Month!

I started my first official job here in The Netherlands this week! I went in for my interview on Tuesday and was able to start on Wednesday! Right now, I am working five days a week, but that will change in September, when I start my HBO program and will probably go down to two. Words can not describe how great it feels to finally have work after being virtually unemployed the entire time I have been here.Plus I really like my office, the work itself, and my colleagues!

In addition to starting a new job, there are some other really exciting things happening for me this month! My birthday is on the 14th, but I'm kind of ignoring it in favor of other things. Plus, I don't really love the way the Dutch treat birthdays, but that is for another post. I have orientation on the 30th and 31st, and I am excited to meet my new classmates for the next four years, in my 3rd attempt at  But most important, my parents are going to be in town from the 23rd to September 1st. Luckily, my new boss is flexible enough to allow me to have that time off!

I am so excited for my parents to come. It will be my mom's 2nd time, she came in Jan, but this will be my stepdad's first time and I am excited to show him where I live! We are also going to Germany for the weekend when they are here to visit some family friends, and it will be the first time I have left The Netherlands since I moved here in October!

What does your month look like? 

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Thoughts on Renewing My Visa

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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Happy 1st Birthday Little Blog!

I wrote my first post for this blog one year ago, I feel like time has really flown by! So much has happened since that very first post: I moved to The Netherlands, got my residence permit, applied and got rejected for a ton of jobs, decided to go back and get my bachelors' degree, started my inburgering lessons, and most importantly, I made some great friends. I couldn't be happier with my decision to leave everything I knew behind and live with the Verlo- here in Utrecht. 

I thought in honor of the blog's verjaardag (birthday, for those non-Nederlands speakers) I would revisit my very first post and see what has changed. So here is Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How Redux.

 

The WhoMy name is Kaitlin, I am in my mid twenties and newly engaged. I rock at jeopardy and I love beautiful things. I also have quite a snarky sense of humor, so you know if you are easily offended or you just don't like snark, this might not be the place for you. Well, my name is in fact, Kaitlin, I am still in my mid-twenties and I have been engaged for over a year, please don't ask when I am getting married, you will know when I know! I haven't played Jeopardy since October, but I do still like beautiful things. I am still full of snark. I am about to be an International Tourism Management student at Inholland University of Applied Sciences.  I am an avid reader and budding polyglot. Right now, I am learning Nederlands and my degree program requires me to take Spanish. 

The What: This blog chronicles my journey; both preparing to move to Europe and the adjustments I will make after I am there. It is a way to keep my friends and family up to date on my life. As well as, a chance to make new friends. Drop me a line I would love to hear from you. I have moved to Europe! So, mostly this blog chronicles my adventures making my way in this crazy country. Blogging has been a great way to both keep up with people and make new friends. Seriously though, nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers

The Where: Right now, I am based out of Atlanta, this fall I will be moving to Utrecht, Netherlands. Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands. It has a beautiful city center, and most importantly, it is where my love is. WOOHOO! I made it to Utrecht! More specifically, I live in Leidsche Rijn, an upandcoming suburb. I do in fact live here with my love, and our cute kitty Atticus. 

The When: A month that ends in a -ber, that is all you are getting for now. I moved on October 5th. 

The Why: People have been asking why it is that I am moving there and he is not moving to the States. That's simple here are the reasons: Emigration to the States is tough for people in love. The Euro is stronger than the dollar. Loek can't drive a car and I don't particularly like it. I was an Art History Major in College so where is better than Europe. I am obsessed with travel; as is Loek and most of where we want to explore is in Eurasia. So why is it called a Georgia Peach Abroad with the title being called Georgia Peach in Utrecht? Well, I was raised in Georgia and though I may not always like to admit it, I am a Southern Lady. I went a little crazy with this explanation. I am really bad about re-reading my posts to make sure they make sense. These reasons are valid for why I moved. So, instead I'll talk about why I blog. I blog because I love interacting with people and having a place to share my stories and hear the stories of others. I also blog because I have questions about my new life all the time, sometimes there doesn't seem to be an answer on the internet, so I blog my experiences and answers so that transitioning abroad/ living in The Netherlands might be easier for those who come after me.

The How: Loek built this blog for me so that is how you are getting content. As far as the whole how am I getting to move to Europe thing? You will just have to wait and read! I like to think that I have done a decent job of describing the how of moving abroad. Now, the blog is all about how I am living my life here.

Also, here is a look back at the 10 most read posts of this year.

Last, but not least, I wish to share my gratitude and appreciation for you dear readers! Thank you so much for all your encouragement and interactions! I am at a loss as to how to describe just how much I love you all! 

 

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I Think It Went Well! Inburgering Initial Interview

Yesterday, as many of you know was my final interview for the inburgering process. I arrived at the Werk en Inkomen Office in De Meern 30 minutes early because I am a nerd! I was offered coffee and told to sit down and wait. I felt so bad for the guard because I proceeded to hack up my lungs in the waiting room. Finally, it was my turn to meet with my Gemeente Representative. I was really nervous because I heard that some of them refuse to speak English to you, and I was alone. Luckily, this was not at all the case. She was more than happy to explain things in Engels and I tried my best to use my Dutch when I could. After a short interview to see if I was supposed to begin inburgering and my intentions for my life here in The Netherlands. It was agreed upon by both of us that since I eventually want a career that will require me to converse fluently in Nederlands, I would be taking the Staatsexamen II. The most intense of the four exams you can take for inburgering, when I pass the test I will get a diploma stating that I will be fluent in Dutch and can work in a Dutch workplace as well as attend University classes in Dutch if I wanted to. 

This is really the best track for me and will mean that I will be more focused on learning the language then learning about the culture. It also means I will not be allowed to do the portfolio option I was wanting to do, but an actual exam. I have 3 years to pass the exam. The government will pay for a year to a year and a half worth of classes.

*Important* if you haven't signed up for the Inburgering yet, get a move on, in the next year or so it will still be required but no longer paid for! After we made our decision about what path I should be on, I was signed up to take the initial placement exam.

So, tomorrow I get to go into the South of city and take a four hour exam for placement beginning at 1pm. I am extremely nervous about this. Mostly because I spent all day in bed today with a debilitating sinus headache! I told my contact that I reckon that I am still in level one. I think probably Level 1A, but The Verlo- thinks I am probably at Level 1B. I guess we shall see after the exam. After my contact gets my results back, she will get in touch with me and then I will find out where and when I will be taking my classes. I actually can't wait to begin taking my first Nederlands class!

So, that is where we are right now. Wish me luck for my test tomorrow and if anyone has any surefire get rid of a cold fast tips, I need to know them!  

samarttiw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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March Photo Challenge: Day 27: My Name

Before I left The States, my dear friends were nice enough to throw me a lingerie bridal shower. It was amazing and so much fun, a girl couldn't ask for a better send off! Then a few weeks later I got this lovely book of pictures in the mail from my friend Kay! It makes a lovely addition to my home decor and is an easy flip through when I really miss my friends! 

Today, I was talking to a new friend about the differences in being engaged here vs The States. When you get engaged in The States, one of the first questions that is asked is when you are getting married. In contrast, when we told Loek's friends they asked what year we were getting married. From what I've gathered, it seems that a trend here is to move in together, have a baby, and then get married. As opposed to the popular nursery rhyme "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage" that was popular when I was a kid. I don't think that one is better than the other, do what makes you happy, this is just an observation in cultural differences. 

If Loek had wanted to move to the US on a similar visa like I have, we would have to be married. There is no such clause on my visa for here. So, while we are still getting married one day, it will probably be a very long engagement. 

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Kijken, Kijken, Kopen!

Culturele Zondag

Yesterday was Cultural Sunday here in Utrecht. This time it was dubbed "Kijken, Kijken, Kopen" or Look, Look, Buy. I'll confess, I hadn't much paid attention to the signs around town for it, only enough to note that stores in the Center would be open. (This doesn't happen every weekend). Since it was such a lovely day the verlo- and I decided to go look around.  

I needed to go because it is a certain Dutchman's birthday today and I needed to get him a present. So, for a little while we separated. Most of the stores were having some awesome sales! On my way back to our meeting point, the largest crowd I have ever seen in Utrecht was in front of Winkel van Sinkel and suddenly there was a glorious sound of Opera. Performers from De Utrechtse Spelen preformed songs from Orfeo ed Euridice from a boat in the canal. It was beautiful, but I had no idea what was going on until I looked it up today. 

After the performance we went to check out a book store I had never been to, De Slegte. After exploring their extensive art collection, we walked downstairs to leave. But were interrupted by a a group of three actors from the Aluin Theatre Co. They performed 3 scenes from some of my favorite Shakespeare plays: Othello, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. The whole thing was done entirely in Nederlands. The actors were superb and I was able to follow along because well, I have read all these plays. I was surprised that they even translated the famous latin line "et tu, Brute?" into Dutch. I noticed also that before each scene there was a tremendous amount of explaining the plot. I asked about this later and apparently Shakespeare is not required school reading for all schools here!?!  I mean, I know he is English but he is also one of the greatest playwrights the world has even known. Once I got over my shock, I managed to ask what is actually required reading here in school because The Verlo- never had to read Anne Frank or Shakespeare! Maybe, I can understand Shakespeare, but Anne Frank? Her diary was written in Dutch and she was in hiding in Amsterdam! Does anyone else find this odd?

Anyway, literary tangent aside it was a lovely day to spend in the Center. If the point of this showcase was to get people interested to go to the theatres, I think it worked. I for one now know that we have great acting here in Utrecht. 

What unexpected thing happened to you this weekend? 

 

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