On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Today's Episode: At the Consulate

My New Dutch life has a few subplots. No, not subplots per se, especially as the 'getting married' plot is why I'm here in the first place, but maybe I should say... more private plots.

In less than two months! I'm getting married. While ticking off some of the remaining items on my to-do list, I realized that I needed to renew my passport. Our VISAs for Tanzania (honeymoon safari!!) require that we have at least 6 months left on our passports.

It was time, once again, for a visit to the US Consulate in Amsterdam. The experience is three parts exhilarating and two parts total let down.

Exhilarating: American citizens get to jump the line (by "line" I mean disorganized jumble of people). Take that, you queue-jumping Dutch people.

Exhilarating: "Technically" you're on American soil and you belong there. It's my consulate.

Exhilarating: Americans get quick service while all the VISA-seekers mill around for hours waiting for their number to be called.

Total Let Down: The Consulate (not to be confused with the Embassy, which is in The Hague and is very swanky) is kind of a dump.

Total Let Down: The person at my window was a Dutch local hire, without the warm welcome that I'd otherwise receive from a fellow American. This also shattered the feeling of being on American soil, even if it is still technically true.

I also overheard a really stupid and stereotypically American conversation at another window. I could only hear the woman on my side of the window, but it went something like this:

Woman: Hi. I have a question. See, I just married this Dutch man. It's OK, we've known each other for 32 years. We're newlyweds - just married in May.

[Pause - Presumably waiting for the woman on the other side to congratulate her.]

Woman Well, I was wondering what it means.

[Pause - I'm sure the clerk was trying to work out how to say "huh?" in a nice way.]

Woman: I mean, we don't know if he wants to be a US citizen, or maybe if I want to be a Dutch one.

[Pause - By now, the clerk probably realized that this woman had no real reason for being there.]

Woman: Well, I guess I wondered if there were any advantages.

Unfortunately, I had to leave at this point. I was dying to stick around to see what other inanity would come from her lips. Granted, it's normal to wonder what the impact of marrying a foreign national is on your citizenship and ability to live together in your home country, but I couldn't help wonder if she is trying to get this Dutchman US citizenship and not doing a very good job trying to hide it. The Dutchman was probably thinking, "geeze I guess this is what you get from someone willing to fake marry you."



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