Portrait of a Winter Bicycle
All through Christmas, as we saw family and friends, they all asked "Are you excited?" with expectant faces. The thing is, after so much uproar of selling our stuff and camping out in our apartment rather uncomfortably and rushing to get appropriate papers signed and stamped, we didn't actually feel that excited anymore. When it was all theoretical and the work of it was in the future, it was very exciting. Being in the process of moving, rather than before it, or finished it, wasn't as fun. All the potential of travel and new places and people and strange things to eat had been rather overwhelmed by paperwork and stress. And it's still feeling that way now that we're here. There's a labyrinthine process in order to get our government numbers, find an apartment, open a bank account and move moola into it from Canada, sign up for health insurance. And then there's all the little things that come so much easier in one's own country, like knowing which laundry detergent to buy and which slot it goes into on the machine.
I'm not really meaning to complain here, but more I wanted to be honest about how it really feels at the start of being an expat. And let me tell you that we've had it easy! Damian's company here has hired an immigration lawyer to do most of the paperwork for visas and file everything appropriately; they also set up our appointment at the (awesome) Expat Center, put us up in a long-stay hotel for the first month, and pointed us to a reputable housing agent. I can't imagine how much more complicated and stressful it is for people relocating without all that support.
giant lamp at the expat center
On Tuesday we got our all-important BSNs (the name for the government-issued number), and we went on a tour of some apartments with the housing agent. We've tentatively found one, but I don't want to jinx it until everything is signed. As we were in Amsterdam (our temporary home is in a suburb called Amstelveen), I hung out for the rest of the afternoon until Damian was finished work. I walked around a bit and took pictures, feeling briefly like a tourist again. We've been told that to see Amsterdam like this, with all the snow and ice, is very unusual. When I got too chilly, I found a café and drank koffie verkeerd (café latte) and read Mansfield Park. It was the first fun moment I really felt like I lived in Europe. So there are moments of excitement starting to peek through the paperwork!
Winter Canal at Sunset
(More of my new pictures of the city will be added to the end of my Amsterdam, Netherlands set, following the ones from our holiday in September and my pictures related to moving are here).
Photographs by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.