I always knew I would be moving abroad in the future. When and where to exactly was still a question to me, but that it would happen, was a certainty. Now I have caught up with this future and moved from my safe haven in The Netherlands to the city of Antwerp. The city of Rubens, Van Dyck, Fabre, Milow, and as of some months ago also my city.
During my studies I visited Antwerp fairly often. Not just because it was part of a by my university organised field trip, but also on a personal level. I usually proposed the reason to be “to collect information for my thesis”, but in reality is was mostly due to the many wonderful museums that I kept coming back. I loved the city, and still love her, of course! To me it’s the artsy climax to my studies: all the paintings I mentioned in my essays, theses, and presentations can be found a few steps away from where I live now. In other words: it’s the ideal home base for a self-proclaimed Rubens-connoisseur like me!
My bad, thanks!
Due to an apparent error in the registration system of the nearby district house, my registration to stay for a short time in Antwerp had been changed into an “aanmelding nieuwkomer” (registration to live here permanently). In other words: the immigration procedure had been started without me knowing at first! I actually just wanted to stay here for a short amount of time to apply for jobs, after attending a family gathering at the beginning of February. With my background in art history, it is quite hard to find a job in my previous place of residence, if not impossible. But over here, in Antwerp, there is a bigger focus on art and culture. I hoped it would mean that it would be easier to find a fitting job in accordance with my studies, experience, and passions.
But this idea changed quite abruptly die to an email from the office of foreign affairs. In this letter it was mentioned to present myself at their location in March, to start the whole procedure. I was asked to bring my passport, some photos, and a contract of employment. Well, that was unexpected, to say the least! I immediately discussed this with my boyfriend – born and raised in Antwerp – and asked him if this was what we wanted. It felt rather impulsive, but surprisingly good as well. I mean, doubts will always be there, I think, as it is quite a big step to take. After all, when is the best time to do this? I decided to jump. I kept reminding myself that even if I showed up at the appointment, I always had the option to not go through with emigration.
The closer we got to the appointment, the more people got infected by CoViD-19. I thought this was just a small bump on the road, but it showed to be much worse than everybody initially thought it would be. Shops and services were closed, and it was kinda unsecure whether my appointment would still be standing in this whole situation. Luckily enough (or not, if I think back on having a fever about a week later) it did, and I left for the office with my boyfriend and father in law. The latter stayed in the car, obviously, while my boyfriend joined me. After all, it was kind of exciting!
Anyway, the appointment was quick and easy. The guy behind the desk gave me the papers about the procedure easily. I received a “rijksregistratienummer” (a national number to get identified by) and a deadline of three months to find a job. Only after sending them a copy of my contract will I be getting a temporarily residence permit and am I able to join things like (health) insurance.
Consequences of the pandemic on my emigration
Just to be clear: there are bigger issues than the ones thrown towards me. In perspective my situation isn’t that dire, but it still is quite hard. It is indeed my choice to be here at the moment, but it’s not my choice to not be able to get back home, even if it is just to celebrate someone’s birthday or to talk to my family face to face. Or even just to take care of my plants, my mini indoor jungle, that are in great hands fortunately. Or even to pick another nail polish colour besides the six colours I have at this place.
Finding a job proves to be harder as well. I have been graduated on studies to be a curator in museums, but they’re closed at the moment. To find a job in that field is something for the future, but I hope I will be able to find a job in accordance with my passions and knowledge. Not in the last place because June gets closer every day, and I have to have a job by then!
My life nowadays
Even though I don’t excel in certain parts of my life at the moment, I feel like other parts are doing better considering this whole situation. I do have more time on hands to be creative, something I forgot to do a lot the last couple of years. I write a lot more, read a lot more (thankfully I have some books from a local library lying around), and finish one Assassin’s Creed game after the other. And I have enough time to brush up my languages again! I’ve studied Italian as well, and brushed this up quite a lot during this time, as well as my French. And that’s absolutely great, because it’s a language I need to speak in order to get a job!
And of course it gives me more time to write for this blog, as well as to learn Photoshop, something I have enjoyed starting with lately. Even though it might sound this time is ideal for me to brush up forgotten skills (and to learn new ones), I won’t deny I’m looking forward to get back to my normal way of life.