Getting settled…

Not quite sure where the last ten days went, but we have been busy here on our straat. I’m happy to say that my dear husband finally arrived, almost one week ago. Since then, he’s unpacked, set up our internet and cable, successfully programmed the Dutch-only thermostat, and started his immigration adventure.

My immigration process was incredibly easy. My employer applied for a “highly skilled knowledge worker” visa, and once that was approved, the rest of the process was completed in about 4 hours. I registered at the ExpatCenter, and got my all-important BSN, or burgerservicenummer, within a few minutes. Without a BSN, you sort of don’t exist here, so getting it quickly is key if you want to set up a bank account or get health care. You know, the little things. Anyway, after that I went directly to the Immigration office and did all the biometric stuff required: fingerprints, photo, retinal scan. Three weeks later I got my residency visa, and that was that.

Unfortunately things are not quite so simple for my “trailing spouse”. (I’m happy to say that the somewhat nicer phrase “accompanying spouse” is becoming more common, since someone must have finally realized how obnoxious and patronizing “trailing spouse” sounds.) But, we’re making progress and I’m confident that things will work out and all the paperwork will be resolved in short order.

It is challenging to watch someone I love go through the same process I did, but with different results. And I’m not just speaking about the immigration process. This move was largely my doing – it was my idea, my initiative. I came here almost two months before my husband and, as a result, I had to go through the early settling in by myself:  setting up a bank account, getting lost every time I went out, navigating the grocery store or the metro or any number of Dutch cultural situations. I met new people, but still had quiet and solitary weekends. I sometimes went a day or two without talking to another person.  I was not completely alone – a few friends and many colleagues helped along the way. But I found my own way, more often than not.

Now it seems that part of me wants to help my husband with every little thing, and make the “settling in” road as smooth and as easy as I can. I certainly don’t want to make things any harder for him. But I also know, first-hand, the value of him finding his own way, and discovering what is great and frustrating and exciting about this adventure that he has started. That we have started.

While this move was my idea, I don’t want to imply that my husband was opposed to it, or that he will be unhappy here. But still, we are different people with different motivations for making this change. I came here predisposed to love it – I already love Amsterdam, and the Dutch, and bicycles, and pretty much everything about the culture and the pace of life here. My husband came here predisposed to love me. And for that I am immensely grateful. And for the rest? Well, we’ll just have to work on that. Together.


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