I’ve read that when you settle in a new country, the first two months feel more like a vacation than a move because there is always something new to try, new people to meet, and new, exciting challenges.  You have all these things in the third month as well, but you realize that these new things you’ve been trying and these new people you’ve been meeting and these challenges that were exciting earlier are now your life.  You wish more people would get your jokes and less people would laugh when you’re trying to say something serious.  You run into bureaucratic red tape and instead of being surprised, you mutter, “Of course there’s another step to take.” You stand out because you are different but you also miss being the same as people around you. You are a buitenlander.

After much sturm und drang we’ve both entered the in-between phase of having applied for residence permits and actually getting our applications accepted.  Did you know it takes up to 6 months to get accepted for a residence permit?  It took 3 just to get all the right documents together.  Why does all this take the same amount of time to gestate a baby?

I think that process is more complex.

Now everyone who has only skimmed this post to this point will think I’m preggo.  SUCKAS.

I’ve been dragging my feet writing this post because lately the visa process has been consuming us with worry and frustration and I figure that the last thing the Internet needs is another whiny and negative publication.  Plus if I was getting bored writing about all the details, then you probably would, too. So here’s an quick overview:

When we read weird/conflicting translations we often look like this:

Then we go into the Expat Desk looking like this:

And then we try not to do this:

Or get in trouble by doing this:

Then we go home and do this:

But when stuff actually works out we do this:

There you have it!

Other stuff:

-Evening Dutch classes are coming along nicely, but after the intensive classes it feels like the progress is slow.  That’s probably good because at the end of this course I will have completed all of the A level of proficiency, and to move on I’ll need to have a big vocabulary and very solid grammar fundamentals.

-I have a job interview at a music school this week for a teaching position for group singing-based general music classes for 6- and 7-year-olds.  Really excited, but I may have to interview in Dutch.  I’ve been emailing the coordinator about my situation in Dutch, and because the kids are on younger side they’ll be more comfortable in Dutch as well.  The good thing about teaching that age in a second language is that instructions have to be simple and to the point.  The bad thing is that if a kid calls another kid a poopyhead or something, I might not be able to pick up on that immediately and respond to it.  I might see if they have any need for international classes in English, though.

-If you get a chance to play Picture Telephone with an international group, DO IT.  You may have to limit the written part to single words instead of sayings, but you’ll make up for it when you sit next to a doctor who ends up drawing extremely anatomically correct  leaking breasts, so you write “lactating boobs” and then you get to explain to everyone what boobs are and how to pronounce that at the end.

-I’m pretty happy with our social lives we’ve been gradually settling into.  A lot of my friends are not Dutch at all, mostly because class and church are international.  Plus here it’s always nice to be able to talk to another expat. A few weeks ago at church we met another young American couple who teach English in Rotterdam and being able to talk about similar reactions to things here has been a godsend.

-I’m always surprised when I run into someone I know in public, which happens more times than I think should given the number of people I know. Then I remember that I’m not in Houston or Dallas and I’ve traded driving around a big city to walking and metro-ing around a smaller city where a big percentage of the population ends up in the center at some point during the week.

-I’ve been missing Mexican food a lot, and although they offer “Mexican” things at the store or the “Mexican” restaurants, they aren’t the same at all.  Fortunately, we have access to pickled jalepenos, limes, cumin, cilantro (actually the leaves are called coriander here, like the seed) chili powder, beans and avocados, so I’ve taken matters into my own hands.  Lekker!