August Rush

I wish this blog post had the same budget as that movie! Alas, this is not a feel-good Hollywood drama.

However, this post is supposed to make me feel good by reminding me of all the progress we’ve made on our home despite the financial setbacks. Bring on the Hollywood ending!

It did feel really good to open up here and be honest about the job snafu and all the trials that come with expat-riatism (should be a word!), so I will definitely be doing that more. I hope that writing about my experience will make some new expat feel better by knowing she is not the only one struggling with immigration issues.

Anyway, you want to know what never fails to turn my sad face upside down? This happy one:

Our kitten Ludovico

Yes, that’s an updated picture of our little fuzzball Ludovico. He’s made such an impact on our lives already — I actually okayed a scratching post the other day saying “I guess that doesn’t look so bad.” If you want to see A LOT (okay, too many) pictures of Ludo, I post them on my Instagram almost daily. You should follow me!

Ludovico was a big change for us, but a lot of the updates we made  this month were small, affordable ones like adding some hooks and hardware in our toilet and bathroom, thrifting some kitchen necessities, and splurging (well, as much as broke people can splurge!) on a designer clock.

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

I didn’t blog about this, but it bears mentioning that you can make a stuck-to-the-wall toilet paper roll holder much prettier by running some acrylic caulk around the edge and smoothing it out with a paper towel, like so:

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

See? No more gross see-through holes!

We did make a couple of big changes this month. They were just ridiculously cheap! We added a bunch of hand-me-down furniture to our living room.

Living room

And ain’t nothing wrong with this discounted Pax wardrobe:

Ikea As-Is Pax wardrobe

Well, that is, until we broke it.

Ikea broken Pax wardrobe

Womp womp. That’s okay. “We can rebuild him…we have the technology.” More on that later.

This month, we also added a thrifted chandelier to our living room, lovingly spray painted white, the rainbow’s most forgiving color.

Thrifted chandelier spray painted white

Funny story, I am in the process of repainting it. Yes! It’s true! Maybe this month has been a wash.

Ah well, at least we got some relaxing in before the summer ended.

Bosbad Amersfoort


Prepare for the worst

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:

Top image from here. Bottom image from here.