This afternoon I am going to the local Chamber of Commerce. To say I'm feeling nervous is an understatement! I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I am prepared for questions on what I intend to do (of course), and on what I expect to gain financially. Beyond that, I have no idea. Is it a simple yes/no answer that they will accept my application (or refuse it) or do I have to pass some sort of criteria test. Not being a Dutch National, of course I fully expect to have to prove who I am, and that I have the 'right' to reside and work in this country. However, my Dutch language skills are almost none existent though, so I can't help but feel I'm waiting for an exam I know I'm not going to do well on! It should be a simple yes/no answer. Most probably 'yes', but I have the same nerves that you have when going for a big job interview that you badly, badly want, or sitting a big exam (those were many years ago for me, but I still remember that dreaded feeling of uncontrollable nerves beforehand!). The big part of my nerves in this case, really is my profound lack of Dutch. I'm not questioning my ability to succeed in my new venture, not at all. But I am questioning my ability to pass the Dutch test as it were. Here I am in the Netherlands, wanting to set up a business, albeit a small one, but I don't speak the language. I am expecting and hoping for the man or woman 'interviewing me' to see that I've integrated into Dutch society, and understand all the legal aspects that goes with running a business. Of course I understand the latter, and I'm not trying to start up some huge enterprise. I'm simply me, a lone person wanting to work from home. But I feel under scrutiny in an exam/test like way!
Perhaps I should dig out my orange T-shirt to show I've really integrated! No, I don't think that will help! Perhaps I should chew on some 'dropjes' (nasty licquorice, usually salty, that Dutchies just can't get enough of!). No, I don't think that will help either. That's like chewing gum through a job interview. I can't take my bicycle into the room with me either. So other than the language (which I really do not have!), I cannot prove I've integrated at all. Maybe they won't ask that, but I have a strange feeling my being unable to communicate (smiling and nodding continuously doesn't count!) will not bode well for me! I even went to the doctors for a routine injection a while back. A trainee doctor did the injection, but none other than the doctor himself pulled out of nowhere a basket full of dropjes. I felt like I was being threatened! In England, if a child goes to the dentist, they might get a sticker for being good/brave, but they don't get any kind of tooth rotting sweets (I prefer to call it road surfacing material!) from the doctor! So, still, when I think I've learnt all there is to know about the Dutch culture, somebody or something will surprise me! Is this interviewee going to try threatening me with road surfacing material too??? Last time, at the doctors, I didn't do well at hiding my shock! That was the very first time that a dutch word instinctively left my lips. I didn't have to think about it, it just came out. 'Nee!' After that, I added in English, thank you but no thanks politely, but the damage was already done. The poor man stood in front of me almost dropped his basket of precious dropjes, recoiled and apologised to me, laughing! I dare say, I'm very unlikely to be offered dropjes this afternoon (although, who knows!) but I am certain that something I've never encountered before, perhaps some secret form of handshake, is going to be sprung upon me. Perhaps the pass or fail result I'm looking for will all depend on this mystery 'test'.
I don't think it will be as bad as I'm making out here, but I really can't help but feel a little nervous!