I am originally from Venezuela. I left my land a long time ago when I pursued my bachelor in Communication and Media Production at University of Houston, Texas. Additionally, I also achieved my Associate in Arts at Houston Community College. I married a Netherlander, and after a long period of time I applied “oversea” for a Dutch Nationality. Learning Dutch and finding a job in the Netherlands was hard, but I’m glad I did it!
How I Became A Dutch Citizen
This is my first book I used to do my exam. Fortunately since I got my Dutch passport while living in America, I did not have to worry about visa or work permit. Honestly, I always wanted to get the Dutch nationality “just in case.” So the hypothetically funny slogan day came along, and not in a good way.
After so many years as an employee my husband was laid off, as many were at that time from an oil and gas company. Not only was he laid off, but also our visas and all benefits including insurance for the whole family were cancelled immediately. That was more scary than losing his job because I was three months pregnant.
Consequently, as Venezuelan and knowing the unfortunate situation going on in my land, we basically had no more options but to move to the Netherlands. I also got mixed feelings about being an expat, and living in a new country from time to time. I almost didn’t know who I was, an immigrant or an errant?
Fortunately, because of my method “just in case” we all had Dutch Nationality afterwards, and I wanted to feel stable, or at least be a citizen or be married to a local somewhere in this world.
Nonetheless, the struggles with the language also arrived with me. Communicating and understanding what was happening around me was a challenge because I didn’t know the language very well or “fluently.” I was pregnant, and I arrived in a very bad health condition. I had sepsis, a blood infection, and kidney stone.
I spent the first two weeks of my arrival at the hospital, where a nurse told me “you should speak Dutch,” having only been two weeks in the Netherlands and sick, she was certainly not very friendly. Consequently, I challenged myself to learn Dutch, but since I didn’t live in a big city, my options were limited. During my search I enrolled in expensive courses that were not needed because I already knew a little bit of Dutch.
Fortunately, when I moved to Rotterdam I found diversity and I could feel more comfortable too. I heard a lot of English, Spanish, and even other languages. I also found Dutch lessons that were offered by the government (gemeente) where I only had to pay a small fee for administration.
Finding A Job in the Netherlands
First, if you want to work in the Netherlands you will need a permit that will allow you to work. If you visit the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), you will not only get a better insight of which permit most likely suits you best, but also a general review of residency too.
I was not very smart on visiting these sites because I already had Dutch nationality, and so here I was, new in the Netherlands, I didn’t know anyone, and I was totally skeptical of job agencies. But after two years I convinced myself to enroll in job agencies. It is good now to mention that job agencies are everywhere and it is really easy to make an account. I didn’t believe it and I never looked for them; however, there are a great array of job agencies!
When I finally tried, I got a job through one of them. Furthermore, if an agent sees potential in you, he/she will contact you to meet you, or ask you permission to simply introduce you to the company (employer). Also, the the agency usually makes the deal, paper work, and salary arrangement, usually for a period of 6 months.
Working in the Netherlands
I was very happy when I got my job. However, I forgot about the environment, the time and schedules. I had fixed pauses, and only thirty minutes for lunch. There was nothing wrong with the time. The time was the easiest to follow. I could take the breaks any time, and my thirty minute lunch I could also take in the afternoon, as long as the time was accurately registered on the computer.
Nonetheless, it is good to know that everyone sits in one open room without privacy. At least when I worked in the USA and Canada, to compare, we had dividers where sometimes anyone could hide and snack (Skittles) or something. But there I was, not a moment of privacy to snack or simply made a private phone call.
I could see everyone eating and drinking. If they were eating something crunchy I would hear it. I could also smell the food they were eating. While I don’t mind drinking, eating in front of your desk is uncommon to me. I was already feeling bad about eating Skittles at my previous jobs between divider.
In addition, there were also phone calls. I already knew two people were talking about the new girl, me, in the same room. Seriously? I was just there sitting in the middle of the office/conversation.
Know What to Expect Before Moving to the Netherlands
Summing up, number one, if you are coming from big cities the best choice is to live in a big city like, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht, Rotterdam or close enough to be able to find diversity and many choices.
Number two, if you have the correct documents such as a Social Security (BSN), then you are ready to join those paid lessons the government offers. And, by the way, thanks to those lessons, I can follow conversations, read, write (at level B1) and listen (still working on it) Dutch.
When it comes to looking for a job, don’t forget to compare or ask during an interview where your office would be besides your schedule and everything else. And prepare for the environment that could be a challenge depending on the country you are coming from. Avoid also being skeptical like me. Go without fear, be bold, and go get your accounts at jobs agencies as much as possible. They really seem to work very well here in the Netherlands.
Good luck, and Welcome to the Netherlands! And if you’re looking to meet other women like you, come to the next event!