27 February, 2011

Final Inburgering Roundup

So, it's been a couple of months now since I finished my course, and I must say that it's lovely having my life back to myself again!  I had initially planned to go on immediately to study Staatsexamen I and II, but decided to give myself a break for a while and just be myself.  I might pick it up again next year.

There are a couple of bits and pieces that I have to share about finishing the course that you may find interesting...  The first is that upon being told I was geslaagd, I was invited to a graduation ceremony which was conveniently held on Christmas Eve in Amsterdam, so I couldn't go.  In the letter describing the ceremony it was made clear that I could instead collect my diploma at the IB Groep location where I took my exams between the friendly hours of 10 and 4 on a Thursday.  As you can imagine, I still  haven't been to pick it up two months later.  I really must make some arrangements to either get it sent to me or to take the afternoon off work to pick it up (I can imagine how flexible the IB Groep will be, so I guess it's off to Amsterdam for the day).

On a good (great, fantastic actually) note, the gemeente called me out of the blue a few weeks ago to offer their congratulations and to let me know that I qualified for a bonus!  A nice tidy little 200 euro bonus to be exact!  Tax free, deposited directly into my account which was an absolutely wonderful end to the entire experience!

Now that it's all said and done and I'm finished with my obligation I can sit back and reflect upon it all.  Initially I was resentful of the process as I don't plan to live here permanently and I was quite happy staring at the walls at family gatherings, not to mention the seriously unuser-friendly process that getting integrated involves.  For instance, I still shake my head at the gemeente contact person insisting on speaking Dutch when I couldn't communicate with her and she could speak perfectly good English, but I'm glad that the process forced me to become more involved and self-reliant.  I don't avoid answering the telephone any more.  I'm not terrified when a stranger approaches me.  I can even argue over a restaurant bill (it's only in the Netherlands where arguing over a bill is expected ..!).  It gives me a good feeling to hear praise from Dutchies complimenting me on my language skills, although they are always astounded as to why an Australian would possibly want to live in the Netherlands (but hey, perhaps they haven't seen the news in the last couple of months).

So what now?  In May I will  have lived here continuously with Maarten for three years, so will qualify to become naturalised.  It's not something that I really want to do as I really strongly identify with being an Australian and couldn't possibly imagine being anything but.  However, I am concerned about the ever-shifting goal posts of the Dutch Government's integration policies and have absolutely no desire to be pulled back up because they decide down the line that what I've already done is insufficient.  Plus, having an EU passport means I can travel everywhere within the EU without visa hassles and long queues at the "All Other Passports" immigration points.  I can even live in another country, and who knows what might happen in the future...?

More than anything though, I have really loved writing about the whole experience.  So, although the main purpose of this blog is finished with, I think I'll keep it going.  I love reading all the experiences of the many other wonderful expat bloggers (over there on the right are some of my absolute faves), so I think I'm going to join the ranks and start writing about life and fun in general.  Lord knows I've had enough adventures to share, and this will be a healthy place to vent at the very least ;)  It means I'm going to have to figure out how to tidy everything up and give the place a bit of a lift, but a change is as good as a holiday, right?

Ok, let's get properly integrated.

5 comments:

Connie said...

Congratulations again Nerissa!!! :) And you can blog about the joys of Naturalizing, that'll be about a years worth :)

Aledys Ver said...

Congratulations!! It is a long, exhausting and sometimes despairing process - but it certainly helps a lot to feel integrated when you can understand what's going on around you.
About getting your NL passport: I feel just the same way you do. If you can hold a dual passport, it is indeed a good idea to become a Dutch citizen - it saves you a lot of hassle!

Anonymous said...

I read your interesting post and was wondering if I may ask a question. Is this "inburgerings test" a requisite for those requesting permanent residence visas and temporary residence permits or just permanent residence permits? I'm an American citizen married to a Dutch national and have been living in the Netherlands for seven years. I have a temporary residence permit that I have to renew every five years. However, last year I received a letter from the gemeente telling me I HAD to learn Dutch and pass a test and only had three years to do so or would start to be fined. I thought that Americans were exempt from this law. Would you know anything about this? Any information would be greatly appreaciated!

MissNeriss said...

Hi Anon, the inburgering test is not a requirement as such for permanent residence status, but you do need to be able to prove that you have a sufficient level of Dutch to qualify for the permit/citizenship. So, you either need to do the inburgering, show a diploma that you've completed staatsexamen I and II OR take the kortevrijstelling exam (exemption test). Being and American does not make you exempt from these requirements - it's the nature of your visa unfortunately. If your husband was from a different EU country and you were living in Holland then you would be exempt, same if you were here as a skilled migrant.

Let me ask you this: have you signed any contract with the Gemeente yet? I know that they can be quite pushy (quotas and funding), but if you have not, you absolutely should take the kortevrijstelling exam. It costs about €80 and if you pass you don't have to do the inburgering. But, and this is a big but, if fail, you have to do the course (either inburgering or staatsexamen I and II) and you only have one attempt at the exemption test. In my opinion it's worth it to even try the test, you never know. Look here: http://www.inburgeren.nl/inburgeraar/examen/korte_vrijstellingstoets/korte_vrijstellingstoets.asp there is even a practise exam you can download. However, if you've already entered into an agreement, you are unable to take the exemption test.

Hope this was helpful!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the information! I have not signed any paperwork, only been told that I have three years and a half to learn Dutch and take an exam that will certify that I know the language. I was not given the option to take the kortevrijstelling exam! Thank you so much for informing me. Given I did not sign any papers, I assume I still have that option available? Also, if I understand you correctly even if I don't have a permanent resident visa I still have to go through this process? Thank you so much for your assistance!

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