This morning, I sat for the written portion of the NT2 II exam and, this afternoon, I will sit for the speaking portion. In the next two weeks, I have the listening and reading comprehension exams. The NT2 translates to “Dutch as a second language”. These are the level two exams and so this should tell anyone looking at my resume that I am fluent in the Dutch language.
Nope. Not fluent. I don’t feel fluent. I don’t know what that would feel like. I still sigh and squint as I read Dutch text. My heart still races when I speak Dutch. I still use Google translate. I have to consciously suppress my, “Oh Shit!” face when people ask me a question in Dutch.
Other people, other immigrants, say they dream in Dutch. Blek! God I hope not! Other people start watching Dutch television programs. Why? I come from the land of “Scandal” and “House of Cards”. One word – Netflix
My family and friends from America speak slightly awe struck when I talk about sitting for these exams. Everyone else smiles and thinks, “It is about damn time. You have lived here for ten years.”
Taking these exams makes me feel equally parts old and privileged. I’m an immigrant just like they are, but I am termed an expat or even mistaken for Dutch because of my skin color, my hair texture, my clothing, my last name.
Most of the other people at this sterile government office building are here as a requirement to continue their education at a Dutch university. They have so much ahead of them. In many ways, they have so much behind them. We all sit here dreading the same thing – The great equalizer, government red tape.