I signed my new work contract and celebrated my 29th birthday this week. And while of course it was wonderful to get calls and emails on my birthday, the best feeling of all 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 had 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 if you've been following this blog for a little while, you probably remember me talking about meeting with them in 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 more or less sponsoring me to stay here, they made the appointment for me at the IND (the Dutch immigration office). My appointment is this Monday at the office in Rijswijk, and 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. "You have to understand that in the US, that's not always the case" I replied. 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. Of course, I'll keep this blog updated, and if you have any questions you can always comment or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).