Legally residing in Amsterdam – victory!

I recently celebrated my 29th birthday, and the best birthday present was putting my signature on the (ten-page!) contract that will allow me to live and work here in Amsterdam. Once I was done meeting with the HR people, I went out to meet up with some new friends and celebrate.

Now, I’ve been planning this move for about 7 months and put in a lot of effort, work, etc., into making this all happen. But I want to acknowledge that yes, I’m really, really lucky to have everything work out the way it has. Way back in October 2007, I found a company that has offices both in the US and Amsterdam, and I met with them in person in NY and Oregon. Once I got to Amsterdam I had about four meetings with the folks here, and was then finally offered the job (to make a long story short). So while a lot of people say “wow, you’ve been here for just over a month, that sure was quick!” it doesn’t quite seem that way to me. Then again, now that I actually have the contract and my start date is coming up soon, it does seem to be rushing up!

Because the company is now sponsoring me to stay here, they made the appointment for me at the IND (the Dutch immigration office). the purpose of this appointment will be to hand in my residence/work permit paperwork and getting a sticker in my passport that proves I’ve reported myself to the authorities and my visa is in process. I need to bring:

1. My signed employment contract
2. the application forms (which are being prepared for me by my employers)
3. My passport, obviously
4. a Dutch official passport picture

The differences between starting a job here in the Netherlands and starting a job in the US are drastically different. I have twenty-five vacation days, and if you’re American, I don’t need to explain how unbelievable that is. When I got to the part in the contract that explained sick leave, I asked “so how many sick days do I get?” and the woman looked at me like she didn’t understand the question. If you’re sick, you’re sick, she said. Basically, there is no “number of sick days.” Sick days are totally different from vacation time.  I thought about my previous full-time job in NYC, where during my first year of employment, I was granted exactly 3 personal days, 5 sick days, and no health coverage at all. And you know what, that’s absolutely not uncommon or weird. Here, I’ll have health care and a pension plan (if I want it), just like everyone else who lives and works (legally) in the Netherlands. They even offer free Dutch classes!

Having the past two months to just kind of relax, travel around a bit, and explore Amsterdam was perfect… now it’s time to really develop a life here.