Our Italian CS Agent Maria Chironi looks back on the twists and turns of fate (and bureaucracy) that got her to LA and then to the Netherlands. She’s just joined the Tiqets team!
Silver screen dreams
I was living in London in 2006 and I took a screenwriting course that changed my life. Suddenly I was creating worlds, studying structure, crafting characters and nothing else seemed to matter; it always felt like more than just a hobby.
So naturally, I packed up and moved to Los Angeles, just like the online forums, message boards, guru books and other writers advised.
12 years later I was still there. The characters kept talking, screenplays were written (but never produced). My book series was adapted into a feature screenplay which made the finals in a small contest. So close!
Then a pilot for a TV show went nowhere. Then my Westworld spec script was shortlisted for the 2017 Austin Film Festival, but I didn’t get representation from it. So I guess I was good, but not good enough. Sigh.
To quote someone I recently met – after my “show business dreams crashed and burned” what was next?
It’s time for a round of “Where’s Maria?”! Can you spot her in these three famous TV scenes?
The prodigal daughter comes home
The current political situation in the US, combined with the aforementioned screenwriting let-down – and maybe a little nostalgia for the European state of mind – made the decision to return to Europe very easy.
The fact that the English language is enough to get a job in the Netherlands played a big part too. After packing all our lives in 4 suitcases, my husband and I arrived here with our Chiweenie. Yeah, that’s a thing. (it’s a Chihuahua-Dachshund mix.)
Actually, before we left, we first had to line up all the paperwork pieces. The Dutch are a bit famous for their love of paperwork, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to beat them, so we joined them (by diving headfirst into the bureaucracy).
The first thing I learned is that moving to the Netherlands is a real catch-22
- a) in order to get a job, you need to have a BSN (The Dutch equivalent of a Social Security Number)
- b) But to get a BSN you need an address in the Netherlands
- c) To get a permanent address you need a job (which you can’t get without a BSN)
That kind of Catch-22 would even boggle the mind of Captain John Yossarian, protagonist of Joseph Heller’s novel of the same name!
A BSN-workaround is found
Luckily, there’s something called an RNI (Registratie Niet-Ingezetenen). This is a temporary registration (max four months) that any EU citizen is eligible for. After four months the RNI can be extended, at which point it magically become a BSN. (The Dutch bureaucracy may be complicated and convoluted, but somehow, it’s also efficient!)
To get an RNI, you just need an appointment with the city hall of the place you’re planning on moving. Make that appointment via international phone call at least three weeks before you land. You’ll get an email confirmation of your RNI while you’re still on the phone with them.
This temporary-soon-to-be-eternal number also allows you – together with your EU passport – to open a bank account when you arrive. A Dutch bank account is another key piece of life in the Netherlands, as it allows you to do a whole bunch of things, like pay rent. Opening my account at ING took just 20 minutes.
Getting settled into temporary accommodations
Book something temporary for your first couple of weeks, so you get to know the city. Beware of scammers on Facebook or other online rental sources. A good rule is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Especially if they promise to give you the keys as soon as you send a deposit via MoneyGram or Western Union, don’t do it.
There are some websites where you can reply to housing ads for a small monthly fee. I signed up for an account on Kamernet, and after several unreturned messages, I expanded the search out of Amsterdam – where it’s impossible to find something for a couple with a dog at a humane price – and ultimately we found a place in Utrecht.
With a permanent address, the RNI can be quickly converted into a BSN. Make another appointment with the city hall but bear in mind that, together with your European passport, you need to have a multilingual birth certificate (fortunately they do accept English). Get an updated one at your embassy before you arrive in the Netherlands. Make sure that it’s also notarized (you can usually do this at your embassy at the same time).
I read the requirements carefully, so when I showed up at city hall all my paperwork was in order. I swear I saw the clerk smile.
You should start applying for jobs online as soon as possible, depending on your skills even before leaving your country. I used Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn for my search. For months I monitored all the positions available that matched my experience. I received quite a lot of rejections, before finally finding one that suited me, here at Tiqets.
After a few different interviews at Tiqets and elsewhere I’m settled in and happy here. My husband’s situation was a bit different, as an American citizen. Luckily, as he’s married to a European citizen my smoothed situation managed to make it easier for him as well.
However, he’s still waiting for his BSN, a former police officer in Dallas Texas and security agent at Warner Bros. Studio, he’s looking forward to getting back to work as soon as the paperwork comes through!
All’s well that ends well
Now, a few months in, he and I are both studying Dutch and getting to know the culture and way of life here. As it turns out, the country has been very welcoming.
In these somewhat turbulent times, we’re grateful of the opportunity to pack up and restart our lives in a country like the Netherlands.
Looking back, it was a calculated risk to move here – a risk that was bigger than I thought. Luckily, thanks to a lot of planning, courage and – of course – patience we did it.
In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you’re thinking of moving to the Netherlands – and joining Tiqets – I’d highly recommend it!