Then, we officially changed our address to Ghent and met our neighbourhood police officer. Now we can take advantage of some free museum and castle visits!
Life proceeded as usual: Dutch classes, friends, networking, searching for jobs and sending a lot of unsolicited applications.
I started level 4 at CVO de Bargie, which is going great. We have the same teacher but only five of us continued, so the other dozen people are new. We talk a lot about Ghent, Flanders and Belgium in this level and they even gave us a guided tour of the city center.
I finally started going to Het Huis van het Nederlands’ conversation table. I don’t know why I didn’t do it before. Oh, yes I know: I was lazy. But now I’m going every Monday until the end of June, when they probably take a break. I need to practice speaking and the small group plus a Flemish volunteer offers the perfect opportunity.
I also found out that I am eligible for a grant from the City of Ghent for Dutch courses at the University Language Center. Instead of the €375 that I was going to pay anyway, I’ll only pay €99! Awesome! I didn’t want to stay home all summer letting my Dutch slip away from me and I’ve heard that they have a pretty high standard.
I always thought it would be mandatory for me to go through the Integration program once I had my permanent id. I went there and found out that it wasn’t, but I had the right to register if I wanted to. I only saw advantages, so I signed a contract with them and put my name on a long waiting list. The social classes should only start in September for me (or later), but I can already be exempt from paying for my Dutch course and they’ll work on my diploma equivalence.
Ah, the hardest part of this whole immigration thing. I am not sure on what your “luck” depends on here: your degree and experience, your language skills, your network or luck itself. What I know is that I haven’t been lucky in this field. I’ve sent out résumés to pretty much every school in Brussels and Ghent, got some replies saying “I’m sorry but we don’t have any vacancy right now but we’ll keep your CV in our database” or “All our instructors are native speakers”. Ouch.
After moving I focused my search here and contacted hostels, B&Bs, crèches and created my profile on job sites. Nothing.
The only job that really interested me in months and that I knew I could do well was probably taken by someone who was available on the exact day they wanted to carry on interviews. And please, when you say “we’ll get back to you to schedule a date”, it’s only professional and polite to do so.
So, not going very well. I hate looking for a job because I have to fit in all these expectations and rigid requirements, what makes me think more and more about starting my own thing (teaching Portuguese, for example). That’s a bit complicated, though. What I’ve found out up to now is that if I want to be a full-time independent professional I have to pay trimestral social security fees starting at around €700, even in the beginning when I won’t know for sure how much I’ll be making and how steady my income will be. Not encouraging.