Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Where do we start...

Since this blog will be authored by both myself and my beautiful (and patient) wife, Suzanne, we have decided to make our own individual posts, instead of some kind of gender-neutral compromise.

Most of the people that read this blog will already know about us and our Expat move to Europe, but here at the start (almost to bring a meaningless sense of completeness) I will start off with a quick outline of the 'why' and 'how' we now live in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The 'why' is very straight-forward: I got a job here. I just finished my PhD at the University of Pittsburgh where I did research in biomedical optics. My job here in Rotterdam is at Erasmus Medical Center, where they are experts in that field, and perhaps more-importantly they are excellent people to work with and learn from.

The 'how' is more detailed. It took 5 months of document processing, 2 months of living (as newly-weds) in my sister's spare bedroom, personal correspondence with the WV secretary of state, 156 emails inquiring about available apartments... and the list just goes on and on. In short: the Dutch do not welcome Expats with open arms. They are open about this and, in fact, it is a directive of the government to 'make it difficult' to move to and work in Holland (this is an attempt to stem the large flow of non-Dutch people into the country who come for work and do not integrate into Dutch culture... thereby diluting the Dutch culture). The most common phrase that we may have heard during the process was "You thought that this would be easy?" This is usually followed with "It is much harder to get a visa to work in America."

There is not a canonical set of steps to complete in order to move to Holland (making that information available might make the process too easy). But the list of steps is extensive (applying for an MVV; the actual move; searching for an apartment; registering with the city council; applying for the Residence permit; getting cable/phone/internet) and none are easy, so I will describe them in greater detail in later posts.

If any readers have questions about moving here, or life here in Holland, or Europe in general, please leave comments and we will do our best to give you feedback.

Now that we are here and settled in, we are living the hard 'European' life. This includes sitting in sidewalk cafes, enjoying Belgian beer, catching short train rides to Amsterdam or Paris, scheduling use of the 40+ vacation days that I get this year, ... etc. Well, when I put it that way, it is obvious that it has been worth the trouble. :)


Pics from our first days in Rotterdam:

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