Prepare for the worstPosted: August 10, 2012
There’s been a lot of stuff on my mind lately. Money and employment stuff. Visa and immigration stuff. Family and travel stuff.
I know it’ll all blow over and work itself out. But sometimes when a bunch of stuff gangs up on us like it has recently, I start to lose sight of the horizon and I just sort of shut down. I give up. I metaphorically throw my hands in the air and consider all the struggle I’ve gone through up to this point to be in vain. Why struggle when you can’t win the fight?
I haven’t talked about this struggle here yet. But I suppose if I’m going to really call this an expat blog I should mention some of the harder parts of my new life.
It’s not just the new language and the new culture and the having to relearn basic things like telling time (19:00?!) and how much you weigh (kilograms?!).
I guess I was prepared for those things. What’s getting to me is all the extra stuff I never expected.
Like finding out that I still have to file taxes in the U.S. even after I’ve got a residence permit here in the Netherlands. I don’t mind paying the ungodly high Dutch tax rate (42% if you make enough to be a highly skilled migrant), but paying taxes on my income twice? For a country I don’t live in? Now that I mind.
Also, like being expected to earn €13,664 more next year just because I turned 30. What company is going to hire a 29-year-old highly skilled migrant (ahem: me) when they know they have to give a more than €10,000 raise in less than a year just to keep you on board? If you know the answer to that question, I’m all ears.
And like finding out after you moved to Europe and jumped through all those expat work and residence permit hoops, when you finally think you can exhale because you signed an employment contract that lasted until October, that the rug can still be pulled out from under you. You can still be called into work one day (while on your vacation no less) and find out that your American owner is closing down your office because he found cheaper employees in Romania and that your employment contract was a ridiculous joke that apparently only you were expected to uphold. I don’t know how much I’m legally allowed to write about it just yet, but… that’s exactly what happened to me.
I’m not trying to deter anyone from thinking about moving to the Netherlands. Just doing my part to prepare the future expats for the inevitable realization that there is more to immigration than foreign language and culture shock.
Like I said, I know this will all blow over someday and (hopefully soon) Rolan and I will be able to breathe easy and play the “remember when” game about this whole immigration nightmare. Maybe then I will hang this immigration stamp calendar in our home to remind me to never ever take my status as “resident” for granted: