When you move to The Netherlands (unless you are EU) you are required to integrate yourself into the country by learning the language and how things work. I don't think it is an entirely unreasonable requirement, but it has it's own set of problems (which I won't go into here).
When you move to The Netherlands, you are required to go through some sort of inburgering. Some municipalities will pay for it and help you arrange your courses, while others will just pat you on the head and say "good luck." Unfortunately I fell into the second group of lucky immigrants. If we'd had a little more guidance I probably would've chosen to do things a little bit differently, but as the Dutch say- helaas (alas in English). You can also opt to self study, but I'm not convinced learning a language via self study is always productive.
Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it), you can apply for a student loan to help with the costs. If you are self paying (or using the loan) then you are entitled to a 70% reimbursment of your course fees (up to a certain amount) as long as you go to an "approved" school. I had the choice of two different language schools to choose from. We ended up going with the more expensive one because they actually returned our phonecalls and requests for information. The only information we could pull out of the other school was the fact that I would "need to have some classes and need to do some tests." Well, okay... WHAT classes? WHAT tests? You would've thought we were asking them for state secrets or the location of buried treasure the way they held onto information!
The school I went to split things into two. First you would do an intensive Dutch course two times a week for about 16 weeks. After that you would
The "do some tests" part of the inburgering is pretty straight forward. There are four different tests you need to do. A test you do over the telephone so they can hear you speak, two tests on the computer, and a real life practical exam.
The practical exam (which I feel like I have been working on for the last 90 years) has you out and about in the world doing "Dutch" things and living to tell the tale. You must put together a portfolio of your bewijzen (proofs). I'm actually doing my volunteer work for my portfolio, though I think it's a nice thing to do anyways. Some other things include knowing how to read your electric meter, paying a bill (banking system here is totally different, but AWESOME), going to the city and registering yourself as a resident and so on and so forth. A MIRACLE fell into my lap a few weeks ago because they changed it from needing 30 proofs to just 20.
It is with great delight and joy that I announce that I'm 97%* DONE with my Inburgering! I've passed the telephone test and the two computer tests and I will be submitting my portfolio for the practical exam this weekend. Once it's accepted as being good and complete, they call me in for a test where I talk to them about some of the things I did and what I felt about doing it. I have a few interesting things to say about that, but right now I'm just going to bask in the happiness that I'm so so so close to being done!
Next step- citizenship!
*Approximately... I don't actually have an exact percentage, but I thought 97% sounds pretty close to done. I feel pretty close to done, thus the 97%. I know, I'm weird.
*****I'm participating in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! Click the link below to see what other iteresting things people have posted about.