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daytime view of the Paramount

How my citizenship hit me in the gut

This entry is part 3 of 23 in the series US citizenship

One day last month, when I was walking through Oakland on my way to meet a friend in Berkeley, I passed the old Paramount Theater. This is a gorgeous restored Art Deco theater that I had paused to admire every time I’d walked past that week. That day, though, the theater was open at 8:30…

newspaper article about the Sinterklaas news program

Black Pete redux

Speaking of local traditions, Sinterklaas is approaching again, and with it, the controversy over Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). As I posted last year, Sinterklaas (the holiday) takes place on December 5th. On that day, as well as the weeks leading up to it, Sinterklaas (the person) delivers gifts to children, landing on their roofs on…

children at the door with their lanterns

St. Maartens Day: A sweet local tradition

Today is St Maartens Day here in Groningen, a children’s tradition that is relatively unique to this area. On the 11th of November, once the sun goes down, children go door-to-door begging for sweets. Instead of threatening “trick or treat” like on Halloween, the deal here is that they sing a song, and in return,…

Republicans, Expatriates and FATCA

This entry is part 2 of 23 in the series US citizenship

Last week I posted about the possibility of renouncing my American citizenship due to the onerous requirements the US government imposes on expatriate Americans. That post broke the record here at Rachel’s Ruminations: the most “hits” ever. And, in the process, I’ve learned a lot more about the situation from the many people who responded,…

Giving up US citizenship?

This entry is part 1 of 23 in the series US citizenship

For several years, I’ve been thinking about giving up my American citizenship. This is not an act of disloyalty or of protest, I hasten to add. I admit there have been moments – when George W. Bush was reelected, for example – when I was angry enough to repudiate my nationality in protest. But I…

How Americans see the Dutch

(Nederlands vertaling beneden) A couple of weeks ago I posted about how the Dutch see the Americans. It wasn’t particularly complimentary, so I promised to write the opposite post: how the Americans see the Dutch. Here’s the problem: the Americans don’t see the Dutch. What I mean is that America is big and Holland is small,…

Watching the World Cup … and enjoying it!

The Dutch are absolutely fanatical about football (soccer, for American readers), and perhaps even more fanatical about supporting their national football team. You can always identify the Dutch people in the stadium: a small sea of orange (the royal family of the Netherlands is the House of Orange); their faces painted, often in red, white…

10 Things the Dutch Think about Americans

You’re not like most Americans.” A student of mine, a trainee English teacher, said this to me.  I laughed, and the conversation moved on to other topics, but I’ve been thinking about what he meant by this. What the Dutch think about Americans – and I dare say this applies to other Europeans too – is…

Groningen central train station

Do you live in a low-status city?

My friend, Carol, lives in Amsterdam, a bit more than two hours from Groningen, where I live. She used to live in Assen, which is only 20 minutes away. Yet I see her much more often now than I did then. Cities have status. I didn’t realize this until Carol moved away. When she lived…