November 12, 2008

2-4-6-8 it’s time to integrate!

Filed under: — Natasha @ 5:28 pm


As the year draws to a close, the City of Amsterdam is apparently obliged to send every immigrant (including yours truly) a letter that says we have to integrate, get to know Dutch society and learn the language. According to an Amsterdam politician friend of mine, the city has to crank out all these letters soon or risk a fine. Basically, they are in a rush to apply a law that was passed in 2007. Better later than never.

Oh but no. First, of all, I already went through this properly about eight years back when I lived in Nijmegen. Oddly enough, I wasn’t obliged or allowed to take Dutch lessons back then because I was here on a temporary resident’s permit. I managed to stay and then the courses were no longer available to me anymore; it was up to me. I learnt Dutch the hard way: at parties and by reading. And now I’m finally learning to write it properly because it’s about time I did. Second, as a Canadian, I am exempt of language lessons as are about 20 other nationalities according to Dutch immigration law. Funny how nobody working with immigrants seems to know that.

Third, Dutch lessons? Help with getting a job? Hello? I’ve been here for almost 10 years and have been running my own business for about eight! The young woman on the phone was very nice and suggested I send her a copy of my diploma just to make sure. I asked her if she could read Latin. Why, she asked. My Canadian university diploma is in Latin and I can barely make it out myself. I told her I wasn’t sending anything to anyone and wasn’t going to take time off work for an “intake meeting” when I could be working. After all, there’s a crisis on and all.

I have this nagging feeling that this won’t just go away. By the way, Amsterdam has waiting lists of three months or so for Dutch lessons as well. It’s a disaster and everybody knows it.

The woman went on to point out three times that many people who have been living here for years don’t speak the language. But I do, so why are you on about this? It has nothing to do with me.

I have to renew my resident’s permit soon or apply for the Dutch nationality. Which is it going to be?

UPDATE Yes, I speak Dutch as a near near native speaker (not a typo) and I do so 95% of my day except with business partners and when I stub my toe on something.

MORE UPDATE Integration test angers old immigrants mentions me as well.

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7 Responses to “2-4-6-8 it’s time to integrate!”

  1. lola granola says:

    You could also apply for the EG verblijfsgunning voor langdurig ingezettene holder… The Dutch onbepaald verblijfsgunning allows you permanent status here in NL, alone. But the EG ver. allows you to live and work in another EU country.

    Can you have both at the same time? I think so. I have the Dutch onbe. and have just applied for the EG verbl. (the application cost EUR 201) – and haven’t heard anything about having to forfeit my Dutch permit.

  2. baffo from twitter says:

    Dear Natasha,
    (off topic, but I can’t d you on twitter)
    I don’t think you need a Dutch passport to vote in the waterschapsverkiezingen. I just received the ballot at home (in Rotterdam), and I am definitely not Dutch (although I have EU citizenship).

  3. Natasha says:

    Thanks and I’m following you now 🙂

  4. Jeroen Mirck » Blog Archive » Inburgering in Nederland… says:

    […] werden uitgenodigd voor een ‘kennismakingsgesprek’. Ook mijn Frans-Canadese vriendin Natasha Cloutier ontving zo’n brief. Sterker nog: Het Parool schrijft er nu over omdat ik haar adviseerde een […]

  5. Kristof says:

    “the courses were no longer available to me anymore”

    No longer available anymore? Tsk tsk … For a nitpicking person such as yourself, that is quite the oversight 😉

  6. Natasha says:

    No longer LEGALLY available to me. Nothing to do with me!

  7. Kristof says:

    I know. I was pointing out the “no longer … anymore” construction 🙂

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