Visa Dramas: Chapter 2: Part 3

It’s been over 2 months since my last update,  so it’s about time I gave a  status update:

We were waiting for:

  • the New Zealand Police check
  • the Chinese Police Check.

In the last week of April we got the NZ Police Check, so that was good! We just had to wait that out.

Thanks to Ebe and Maggie we were able to find a place to get the official Chinese police check but it was going to take a month. Since we had no other choice we went ahead with it. So the whole month of May was spent just waiting for the police check. We had all the other paperwork that was needed. Since nothing much else was happening, we were both working and saving, there was not much need to blog about anything!

Our patience pays off in the end, and by very early June, Ebe has both the Chinese and English translated versions of the Chinese police check! Wahoo!

Ebe sends the paperwork back to us via trackable courier. Fem received the paperwork last week. Yes! It was ours! We finally had everything we needed!

She spent a few nights going through it all and finalising the whole package to send to Berlin. She sent the package yesterday and about 1 hour ago it arrived at the Australian Embassy in Berlin! (we kept a close eye on via the trackable courier!)

So that officially ends the paperwork and information gathering stage of the whole migrating of Femke to Australia. We now just have to sit and wait for Berlin to review it all.  Overall they say it will take from 1 to 6 months to complete. I am hopeful since we have all the documentation there and we have been through the checklists and requirements with a VERY VERY VERY fine comb that the processing time will be more closer to the 1 month rather than 6 months!

So what happens now? Well Femke really wanted to be here for my birthday on July 28th so she is coming over to Australia as a tourist from July 24th for three months.  With any luck the visa will be approved during that time and she will be able to stay here! She will have to leave the country to get the visa itself, but this can be accomplished by going to Auckland, New Zealand.

It is now exactly 6 weeks until she arrives in Australia, so I am hopeful the visa processing will be a significantly well underway or nearing completion!

After all these setbacks both in the Netherlands and with China we are now nearing the end of all this and can start to feel some rays of sunlight coming through the clouds!

A Dutch life

Several people have asked me what it was like in Holland. How it was different to Australia. So i thought I would do up a blog post highlighting the main differences I found.

Country
Basically it’s flat. Very flat. The only time I rose up was when we drove over a bridge occasionally. It’s a little strange at first but you get used to it. There are some hills to the very south eat of Holland around Maastricht, but that’s it.  The Dutch call themselves “Nederland”. “Neder” in English is “Low”. Makes perfect sense. Australia should be called “HotandHugeLand” by comparison.

Weather
It does vary a lot between summer and winter and I (unfortunately) was only there for their winter. Most of the time it’s overcast, and the sun is not up for very long during the day. Sunrise was around 8am each morning and sunset was around 4:45pm. During midday it never got any higher in the sky that what Aussies usually think is about 3:30pm. In summer it is the opposite and you get large amounts of sun. But alas, I will have to find that out for myself some time in the future. While I was there I also experienced one of the coldest winter in Europe for about 20 years. Which was great for me as I did want to check out snow as I saw so little in New Zealand the previous year. It snowed a few times and there were frozen lakes. These were all good experiences for a Queenslander! The temperature was generally around 0 degrees outside most of the time. I found out I had to really watch my ears in the cold. They tend to stick out a bit due to my hearing aids and if it was 0 or less, my ears would go numb or start stinging if I didn’t have a big beanie on.

Sky
Since we are in Europe which is so heavily populated, there are always at least 2 contrails from aircraft up high in the sky. At anytime of any day (provided there was no cloud cover) you could look up and see several planes.

People
The Dutch people are pretty much the same as the general western people. I didn’t have any issues with anyone. There is a stereotype that the Dutch are sometimes arrogant or rude/blunt. I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I can’t say the same thing for French occupied Belgium thou.

Television
I reckon about half of all Dutch programming is English shows with Dutch subtitles. This is only a rough guess as I did not watch a lot of TV. This is  one of the reasons why almost everyone speaks English. They have the same sort of shows as we do, but curiously they also have shows from the 80’s such as the original Knight Rider and the A team. These were indeed a blast to watch! They are so crap they are funny! They also had Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares at 7:30pm on weekly totally unbleeped which was great! My ears were getting sore from the constant high pitched bleeping on the censored version. It’s also refreshing to be somewhere where censorship is not so noticeable. They can tolerate people saying “fuck” and “shit” occasionally without causing a big uproar like you get here in Australia from small minded but highly vocal minority groups.

Language
Just about everyone speaks English very well in Holland. As mentioned above, about half of the TV shows are American or British. A lot of the advertising in billboards and in shops as you walk around is in English too. It’s the same in music shops. Sure they have Dutch singers but most of it is the popular US/UK artists. So basically, a Dutch person would need to understand English to some degree in in order to understand all the labels and ads around then.

I did make a bit of an effort to learn Dutch. It was mainly the different types of food! :) (Bosche bollen! Oh they are so yummy!) I was going to enrol in a Dutch speaking course once I got a job there, but that ended up not happening. :(

Traffic
Most cars in Holland are small. This is absolutely vital since there is hardly any space on the roads! It’s always very narrow in the towns. If I was there with my Holden Commodore I would have sheered off the side mirrors before the end of the first day! A lot of the traffic signs are printed down on the roads rather than on signs on the side of the road. This was a little confusing for a simpleton like me. When you throw in the fact they all drive on the other side of the road (compared to Australia) I was glad I didn’t have to drive anywhere. The first time I was driven around a round about I felt so uncomfortable as it felt like I was going the other way!!  There is also not a lot of car parks in towns/cities either. This leads to most people using bikes to move around.

Bicycles
Pretty much everyone in Holland has a bike. They are an awesome way of getting around. Since the land is so flat and there are hardly any car parks it’s just the ultimate solution! No impact on the environment and everyone gets a little exercise as well. You can also cram hundreds of them in a small space. The road network also caters for bike riders very well. A lot of intersections are areas reserved for bikes and there are a lot of bikes lanes next to the roads or on the footpath next to them. I was very impressed. You also don’t need a helmet. It was great to have the wind in your hair (what little hair I have left anyway) as you cycled down the street. Except for when it was very cold. Then it got painful!

Food
Fast food is not as noticeable in Holland as it is in Australia. Sure they still have McDonalds, KFC, Subway etc but no-where near as many as we do here. To make up for this shortfall the Dutch have gone all out on pastries, meats and cheese. They have incredible foods in these areas! From the absolutely yummy Bosche bollen that you can only get from Den Bosch to the many varieties of cheese to the many different cuts of meat and sausages you can get. With all this yummy food, you don’t really find yourself craving a Big Mac. :)

There are the occasional cheese speciality shop in Australia. In Holland this is the norm. Even their standard supermarkets have a massive cheese section filled with rolls and rolls of cheese. Ice tea is also a major drink. Soft drink is not. Most supermarkets have coke, a sprite, but only one or two other flavours and no-where near as much as the varieties of ice tea. Which is great as I do like ice tea that does not taste like crap!

I think this will do for now.. I might do some more blog entries on other topics of life in Holland if there is any demand. Is there anyone out there? ……