June 5, 2008

The sweet feeling of legality!

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 (tami.mahoney@gmail.com).


James said...

Congratulations. Can you believe it!?? I love the amount of vacation days. I don't know if I even COULD move back to the US now....I would miss my time off!

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming you have an EU passport, because otherwise you're not allowed to start work until your permit has been approved.

Another American Expat said...

hey anonymous - sorry my entry wasn't clear (I edited it so it makes more sense). my IND appointment is this Monday, and once they've approved me THEN I'll start work. it seems to be happening so fast!

Another American Expat said...

so happy you can relate, James! I tried to play it cool when I saw it all in writing, but I don't know how well I pulled that off. :)

hey, I'd love to get a drink sometime, if you're all settled in to your new place!

Anonymous said...

Don't you need to have a legal address before your IND appointment?

Another American Expat said...

I have a legal address, actually. I have some very kind friends here in Amsterdam (with a legal address) that are letting me use their place as my residence for a little while. But the first step is getting the work permit, then I go to the Stadsdeel to register.

because the housing laws are so strict here, even just having a guest at my friends house is an issue, of course. I'd be happy to go into more detail if you want to send me an email and let me know if you have any other specific questions! I'll try to write more about it on the blog once I know more myself.

Eve said...

Tami, you are just amazing! I'm so happy for you. You worked hard for months for this, never giving up, doing the research, filling out forms, making contacts. Nobody beats the odds the way you do. One of these days we're going to Vegas...:)

SRG is happy for you, too.

Love, Mom

Jolien said...

Hi Tami, van harte gefeliciteerd met je nieuwe baan! And since Dutch classes are included in your contract you'll find out what this means soon enough :)

Aren't Dutch contracts amazing? I couldn't bear working in the US, with virtually no holidays, pre-counted sick days (how odd is that? Sick is sick!), no pension, no health care and the danger of immediate firing when they want to get rid of you. No, I'm sure you're gonna like the Dutch way of working a lot. Sure, Holland has it's pitfalls and less well organised things (ah, the red tape, sigh), but all in all this is a job well done by you and I'm sure the only way is up for you by the sound of it!

Anonymous said...

This is the first anonymous replying to the second anonymous ;-)

No, you don't need a 'legal' address before you go to the IND (you are meant to go to the IND within three days of arriving in the country, and most people don't have a permanent house sorted out by then!) You need to have a proper address before you can register with the Gemeente, but that is something different. Everyone in NL needs to register their address with the Gemeente, whether they're Dutch, from the EU or from anywhere else. However, only non-EU foreigners need to go to the IND. However, EU foreigners can also get a residence permit from the IND, which is not compulsory but certainly doesn't hurt, particularly from the point of view of getting a mortgage or if you are not in paid employment. Again, though, it's not compulsory, it just makes life easier.

Another American Expat said...

Jolien - can't wait to find out what those Dutch words mean. :)

and hey, thanks to both anonymous commenters for reading (here I thought it was the same person!).

you know what - and I'll probably go into this more in another post - but while there is a lot of red tape and rules and regulations and whatnot here... I've also found that just like everywhere else I've ever lived, nothing is ever 100% set in stone, and the only way to really get things done is to have people help you out. I've been very, very lucky to meet some amazing people here in Amsterdam, and that makes all the difference.