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Becoming a Burger

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In English, “burger” is food. Here in The Netherlands, “burger” means ‘citizen’. To “inburger” is ‘to integrate’. Therefore, an “inburgeraar” is ‘someone who integrates’.

Since May this year, I have tried my best to permanently integrate into Dutch culture and society. I learn my Dutch lessons everyday. My fiance’ and I try to talk as much Dutch in and out of the huis everytime. He’s still teaching me how to bike, because I am afraid to learn. We signed me up for swimming lessons which I am enjoying very much right now. I try to be as much as possible to be a responsible inburgeraar.

Seeing the importance of me learning the language, we thought it would be best to do self-study at home while we wait for my verblijfsdocument. Before one gets his/her verblijfsdocument, it is not possible to attend the government’s inburgeringscursus. So as we got my verblijfdocument, we expected the gemeente to supply us with more information about this stuff. To our disappointment.

As we claimed the pass from the municipality, we were a little surprised that nothing came with it. No papers. No documents at all about inburgering. We had to ask from another desk. Gladly, she supplied us with a paper consisting the name of schools where the government’s inburgeringscursus is offered. But nothing more than that.

We deem the inburgeringscursus to be an important part of my learning process so my fiance’ called the gemeente to ask about an intakegesprek. He called many times on different days of the week. Only after those many times did a municipality employee call him back and gave him a schedule for an intakegesprek. Eindelijk!

The letter from the municipality formally inviting us for an intakegesprek arrived last Saturday. It says that we have an appointment with them on Friday, 21 September at 9am. If we fail to come, we will be sanctioned. Now, the municipality is trying to turn the tables. It’s really funny. Because we were the ones who asked for it! Maybe they should be sanctioned instead? #

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