This is a big week in this British expat’s life. It’s the week (barring a disaster) I become Dutch.
A few days after I published my last blog post Almost Dutch? I received a letter, written on behalf of the mayor, inviting me to a naturalisation ceremony which will take place this Wednesday. When I saw the envelope with the local council’s logo lying on my doormat my initial thought was oh oh there’s an issue with my citizenship application – it’s too early for there to be any contact.
I opened the letter in an anxious state only to read that I could attend a ceremony a week later. I was gobsmacked, to put it mildly. I had been expecting a ceremony invitation for somewhere in December.
My husband had taken our sons to school and he was helping out in my eldest’s class but he popped unexpectedly back to grab forgotten keys for their bike locks. As he was frantically turning a drawer upside down in search of keys I said,
“Volgende week word ik een Nederlander.”
He stopped his search and looked as surprised as I had felt a few minutes earlier. Then he smiled broadly.
So that is the current status. Attendance at a naturalisatieceremonie is compulsory and the last step to being granted Dutch citizenship. At the ceremony (described as a ‘feestelijke bijeenkomst over de betekenis van de Nederlandse nationaliteit‘) what it means to be a Dutch citizen is explained and each applicant has to declare that they will uphold and respect the rights and freedoms of the Netherlands.
The declaration is as follows:
‘Ik zweer dat ik de grondwettelijke orde van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, haar vrijheden en rechten respecteer en zweer de plichten die het staatsburgerschap met zich meebrengt getrouw te vervullen.’ Gevolgd door: ‘Zo waarlijk helpe mij God almachtig.’
‘Ik beloof dat ik de grondwettelijke orde van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, haar vrijheden en rechten respecteer en zweer de plichten die het staatsburgerschap met zich meebrengt getrouw te vervullen.’ Gevolgd door: ‘Dat verklaar en beloof ik.’
“However, I am not Dutch. Nor will I ever be. I don’t have the cultural background, mentality or history to be Dutch. My cultural background, mentality and history is British through and through. So I fall into a void. Locally, I’m accepted as one of the gang, but I feel sometimes like an impostor, like I stand out, like I’m different. Which I do and I am.”