Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Process

Having never lived in another country for any extended period of time, I've never gone through the process of establishing residence within said country. So, I'm going to tell you what we've done so far.

First we had to get the visas. This involved getting a thing called an apostille (I may be spelling that wrong) for our marriage license and birth certificates from Austin and faxing/emailing copies to the people Andy is working for. Once the paperwork on their end went through, we were sent to the Dutch consulate to "apply" for the visas. That meant we had to take photos of ourselves, our passports and the originals of our marriage license and birth certificates, along with copies of the housing and working contracts to their office in downtown Chicago.

Next, we had to get here. That was probably the easiest and most obvious part. =) You buy a ticket, board a plane and away you go.

Once we got here, Andy met with the HR department who informed him that he must go to an office for foreign people and apply* for residence. We went to another, much nicer looking town called Rijswijk for that (I'm beginning to wonder if we're in the only dirty little town in Holland). Once there, we presented the housing contract and our passports, the attendant laughed at Andy's three looks as seen through the passport (from Backstreet Boy to rock 'n roll/motor cycle gang member to average joe), the attendant glued our photos to a piece of paper, we signed our lives away to the Dutch government (we might have, I don't read Dutch!), the attendant taped some stuff into our passports and we were on our way.

After that, we needed to register as citizens in the town we're living in, so we walked over there (after we got off the train), took a number and sat down to wait our turn in the queue. It turns out that of everyone we'd spoken to they're the only ones who need to see the original documents. Nevermind that the originals were required for the visa! So now we're halfway registered as citizens (I'm guessing that doesn't mean we get to vote in any elections) and awaiting an envelope from my parents. Doh.

Once we're done registering as citizens we'll get a BSS number (I don't know what it means) with which we can get a bank account. Once we get a bank account, we can get paid. Whoohoo!

That leads me to another interesting phenomenon here - Dutch banks. Supposedly the town we live in is exceedingly safe, but somehow we still had to be buzzed into the bank - they had two little buttons on top of each other, one green and one red. I don't know what the red one does, but the green one makes a loud buzzing noise. Once the noise goes off, someone pushes an identical green button on the other side and opens the door for you. Now that you're in, if you want to open a bank account, you have to make an appointment, which you can't make until you have your BSS number, which will take two to three weeks. Doh. I'm wondering which documents they'll require in order to open a bank account for us...

If you do this on your own, it costs a lot of money. Fortunately TU has been paying for everything so far. Some departments require that visitors or students pay them back for a portion of their expenses. That hasn't been mentioned to us so far, so hopefully we won't be paying for any of it.

Stay tuned for further updates. If you've lived in another country and gone through this process, tell us about your experiences (especially if another country for you is the US).

*At first the word apply concerned me, because in the US it suggests there's a good chance that you might not get what you want, but they've used it so many times that I'm beginning to think it just means "file some paperwork".

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