Added on: 10/24/2011 07:10 pm
I have been waiting to write the next US blog until Jeroen and I had more certainty about our emigration. That moment has now come. Where will I start, well, let me think…
May 14. 2010 Jeroen got the announcement he was selected in the DV 2011 Lottery of the US Government. This is a Lottery by which means you don’t win money (well, for the time being that is), but you win the right to live and work in The USA. Because only about 2.5 % of the Lottery participants wins, it’s kind of a big deal. To us it was and is!
I always had that magic thing going on with the US. Sometimes it just killed me (figuratively) that I wasn’t there. You can call it ‘homesick’. Yes, I’m Dutch, but that’s the way I felt about it. Then Jeroen and I visited America (Washington, Oregon, California) together in 2009 and he too fell in love with this country. It was the second time we entered the US Lottery and this time we got it all right. Jeroen did, and because we are married, I was the lucky ‘Appendix’ and am allowed to travel with him. Then we had to wait for a year! Jeroen had lucky number 252##, which meant that we were not among the first ones to have the emigration interview at the American Embassy in Amsterdam (they start in October each year). I calculated we would have our interview around May 2011, and May it was.
Even though you have won, you still have to meet the requirements, legal, medical, financial and educational or ‘work experiencial’. The US government would only be looking at Jeroen to meet up with their requirements (because he was the winner), so he would have to be the one with the right papers. (But we needed both to be in good health, that was the one requirement for me). I started assembling things, paper works, and made a very neat and smart folder for Jeroen, which was ruined by the way during the visit at the Embassy, because the lady at the desk asked me to rip all the relevant pieces out of the folder. The folder that I carefully put together in a year’s time, was then a mess in about ten minutes. But hey, it served its purpose. (and I will reorganize it again)
So we had our interview May 17. 2011. We had our obligatory medical on April 28. 2011. I was nervous about it all. I am a real stress chick, fortunately Jeroen isn’t. They wanted to screen us in all relevant ways, and so they did.
We had our X-ray taken, and it went okay. The lady who had taken my X-ray photo, told me she worked with an uncle of mine for three years. She started by asking: “Are you related to Janus Oomen?” Because both my grandfather and an uncle of mine go by that name, I replied: “Yes, which one…?” I didn’t even think about a cousin of mine who’s name is also “Janus Oomen”. Then she told me it was Janus, the internist, and I could confirm that particular Janus Oomen was my uncle. She said: “Tell him I said hello”. It’s a small world. For this X-ray photo’s you had to undress your torso and even my bra had to come down.
Then we had to see the assigned doctor, that is Dr. Schulte, both Senior and Junior. They took our blood samples and examined us. Dr. Schulte Junior wrote down a few of his favorite German songs, when he heard I was a German teacher. That was very kind of him, because he saw I was nervous and he tried to reassure me there was nothing to it. Here is that note (I wrote the last word ‘Collateral‘, that was a movie he suggested too):
We turned to be in perfect health, though my heart beat and blood pressure were significantly higher pure out of stress. I know this to be true, because we had a preliminary medical checkup at our own doctor, just to see how things were standing (to be prepared). In this preliminary I had a blood pressure of 100-65, but at Dr. Schultes, it was significant higher (148-…)… and my heartbeat at the preliminary was 70 (if I remember correctly), and now it suddenly was 88. Jeroen was a lot easier going and his heart beat was a sporty 60 at both medicals.
But everything fell within the norms, so we didn’t need to worry and our blood came out healthy as well.
Then yesterday, D-Day… We got in the car at 10 PM which turned out to be way too early, for when we arrived in Amsterdam, we had to wait for hours (it was at 1.30 PM). I wanted to go early, to exclude the possibility that we would be too late. Oh oh you stress chick… After some walking around aimlessly, we sat down in the “Vondelpark” in Amsterdam, and the birds were singing so beautifully in the three.
Oh wait, let me tell you about the ‘signs’ around the medical and the interview. After Jeroen and I had our medical, I found this little horse on the street:
I looked up the meaning of ‘horse’ and found this: “As a Native American symbol, the Horse symbol meanings combine the grounded power of the earth with the whispers of wisdom found in the spirit winds. The Horse has long been honored has helper, messenger, and harbinger of spirit knowledge to the Native American. Considered wild and an emblem of freedom, the Native American sees many potentialities in the symbolic nature of this noble creature.”
(Source: http://www.whats-your-sign.com/horse-symbol-meanings.html) Well, that was a nice cosmic sign, thank you, Cosmos!
Then, before the interview at the Embassy, we bought a little something in the AH shop. There I saw this little rabbit, just standing on his own, at the beverage department. I took it to the checkout and wanted to pay for it, but then the lady at the pay desk said: “This is not from here!”, and she allowed me to take it for free. You maybe think: well, what’s the sign in this one? Then you have to read this passage in my biography: “As a toddler, my favorite toy was my stuffed rabbit. The cuddly animal was inextricably linked to my chubby arm. When I lost it, it was a great tragedy and I kept crying until I had a substitute back in my arms again.”
Yes, my first and most cherished toy was a stuffed rabbit with pink ears, it was my first ‘guardian angel’ and of course, I still feel that magic something when I see rabbits with pink ears. So, I now had this little small version as our good luck charm for today. I still have the old rabbit, here’s a photo: (his ears are not that pink anymore, but they used to be)
And here the one I found May 17. 2011 in the AH:
But there was a third sign. As we were sitting on a bench in the Vondelpark, this man walked past us twice, who looked like Keith. You sure will be asking: who in heaven’s name is Keith? Well, Keith is our contact in the United States. He is a veterinarian and lives in Thousand Oaks. We got to know him in very strange and in fact incredible way (too long a story to tell right here). Keith is our mail address for correspondence of the US government, our green cards will be send to his address. You had to give an address before / during this interview for this purpose. So, there was this man passing us by twice, and we both agreed he looked a lot like Keith, and we thought that was very nice.
Then the interview. There was some very strikt security around and in the US Embassy in Amsterdam at the Museumplein 19.
We had to leave our bags and cellphone behind. Even the folders we had to take inside were carefully examined. The handsome and friendly black security guard opened the folder with my paperwork and diplomas (I brought it with me in vain, because they had no interest whatsoever in my diplomas), and he kept staring at my first ‘diplomas’. You need to know I put my diplomas in there chronologically, and so I started with – please don’t laugh too hard at me – my gymnastics and swimming certificates of the Elementary School. He kind of looked with that disbelieving glance and then burst out laughing and said: “Wow, you still have that. That is so cool! I haven’t got mine anymore.” So, a little bit embarrassed, I laughed with him and he let us through, after the standard security drill.
Inside, there soon was a long line of waiting people, all for different Visa wishes and appointments. I got the firm impression we were the only ones there for winning the Green Card Lottery. Then this thing with Jeroen’s folder started. Frantically I was getting all the stuff out the nice lady at the desk (behind bullet-proof glass) asked from us. She examined everything carefully (birth certificates, marriage certificate, diplomas, work experience, financial support) and scared us a little, by telling the documents that were on my name didn’t count (like the ownership documents of our house and saving accounts that were on my name). Fortunately we had a job offer on Jeroen’s name, (with a dollar amount on it) and the audit of the value of Jeroen’s business in the Netherlands. We had nine work recommendations for Jeroen, but it took me so long to get them all out of the folder, the lady said: “Just take the three most important ones.” I guess this was just a little bit of a overkill (all these recommendations), so Jeroen chose the three most important ones. Finally she wanted our U.S. passport photos. Then she asked us if we brought the stamps too. Yes, we did, and she told: “You are the first ones who have this.” You need to take stamps for a registered package, because they will send you things and they want you to provide the stamps.
After this, there was this long, long waiting. More than a hour later we were called and we stood at the desk again. A handsome young US consul (dark hair, dark eyes), made us swear we tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and raise our right hands while we were doing this (the swearing). So we did. Then he asked Jeroen some things, and we were (nervously) excited but oppressing this. He was quickly but seriously going through Jeroen’s diplomas and work experience, and examining it. We were getting pretty nervous at this time, because he had that very serious look on his face. But more and more, a smile came over his face and it lighted up his intelligent face. Then he said the magic words: “Your visas have been approved!” We told him that we were very happy about it and he then replied he too was happy about it. He told us our passports with the green card entry stamp would be returned to us in about four days. With these Green Card stamps you are allowed to stand in row with US citizens the moment you get off the plane and when you need to check in. You’re no tourists anymore with the Green Cards. After this “POE” – Point Of Entry – they will send the actual Green Cards within two-three weeks (it could be more) to the given address (that is Keith’s address in our case).
With a light and enlightened step we walked away. We did it, wow, we did it!
Now we have to carefully start planning things. Of course, we already have given it a lot of thought: where to start, what to do and how to do it, but now we really can. We will start at Keiths in Thousand Oaks, California, for he was so kind to offer his home as our first place to stay (for a week or so). When I have more relevant news, i will continue this blog.
Thanks for reading!