Sunday, February 8, 2009

Now that's desire!

Remember my 11 month hassle to move here? Well... maybe not, but I sure do. After about 5 months I realized that I either really wanted to move to Amsterdam, or I was just going through the hassle because I'm crazy. I'd like to think my desire to move outweighed my craziness. But I've come to realize it takes a certain type of person to want to move to, and continue living in, the Netherlands, although not for the reasons you may think.

Immigrants/ex-pats come in three categories of crazy. A) Those who don't feel like dealing with the logistics of the Dutch government, aka. illegal immigrants. B) Those who, on a yearly basis, subject themselves to a mountain's worth of paperwork to try to convince the government that they'd like to stay. -OR- C) Those who find the easy way out and marry a Dutch citizen, or request nationalization. By process of elimination I'm sure you've already figured out where I fit.

My year mark is approaching rather quickly now. It's hard to imagine that I've been here that long. But, as the middle of January hit, I realized I had to get on the ball in order to renew my residency. In an ideal world I would go to Town Hall, hand them my residency permit, they'd enter something into their computer and a few minutes later they'd provide me with a new card. But, as my mother was always quick to remind me, "life's not fair" - or ideal for that matter.

Normally the government will send you a package with documentation to fill out. I never received it. Instead, I went onto the immigration/ex-pat website which, in English, told me the steps I had to take in order to extend my stay. I followed the link to the documentation page which had documents for everything imaginable (all in English I might add) and found the document I needed. That document is one of two that are only in Dutch. For a moment it made me wonder if they do that just so people give up, deciding it's not worth the hassle and in turn leave the country. Gratefully, I have colleagues who are more than willing to help with translation purposes.

Even with their help though, it took a while to get everything organized. I needed one document after another, copies of this, and copies of that. I had to go to the local town hall to get a document proving I have a place of residence. I needed a new passport photo (the Dutch way - with both ears showing), since the last one I had taken here was older than 6 months old. In the end, I had over 20 pages worth of documents to get a silly little card that sports a horrible picture of me.

My fingers are crossed that they're not going to say I can't stay because I didn't put a check mark in a little box on one of the forms. And my fingers are crossed that they'll get all the documentation processed before my card expires. Not only do I not want to gain the title of an illegal, but I'm looking forward to getting a (slightly, although not by much) better picture on my residency permit card. Because, let's face it... you can't get a worse mug shot than this.


Kristi said...

I thought you were the last one. :)

Oh Claire I know your pain! When I was in Ecuador I actually got thrown out(gently)of the country for not having the proper documentation. Good luck with that. How long are you planning to stay?

Chad & Bonny Day said...

I don't think its a bad picture at sexy thang..