Being Dutch, becoming American: a good time for a tough decision?

I am about the make one of the biggest decision of my life, one that affects me and my family close by and far, one that affects me for the rest of my time here on earth and one that I certainly do not take lightly.

I am considering becoming an American citizen.

I have been a resident in this wonderful country for 9 years now, I pay my Social Security, my taxes, contribute to the community I am living in, in short, I am acting like what I expect is a good American citizen.

By now I have also realized that my life is here, on this side of the ocean. A vacation back to the country of my birth confirmed what I already felt in my bones: I want to stay in the USA.

And so I am about to start the process of becoming a citizen. Purely looking at the practical side of it, this is a relatively easy process: fill out paperwork, send a nice check, get your finger printed and answer some questions.

FullSizeRenderEmotionally though, it is a bit harder. Becoming a citizen of another country means, in my case, giving up my nationality. I can’t be both, so I will have to make a choice.

Logic and reason tell me to choose to become an American. I want to be able to vote, I want to be able to serve on a school board, sign a

petition and fulfill my otherwise civil duties.

I know that this is the country I want to spend my time, I want to raise my family and quite possibly, even grow old in.

So what’s holding me back, you might ask?


For a girl who had doubts taking on her husband’s name at the wedding ceremony 19 years ago, not because she didn’t love him enough, but just because she had been ‘Schriever’ for 23 years, this is a big step. A really BIG step.

I have been Dutch for 43 years now, even although I have lived in this country for 9 years as a resident and for 3 years as a guest.


Being Dutch defines me. People hear it when I talk. Under my American flag are two wooden shoes painted with a Dutch landscape. Half my bookcase has Dutch books in it.

But just as nineteen years ago, when I eventually decided to use my husband’s name, I know that I will always be Dutch, stay Dutch and probably will never ever get rid of that funny accent. Yet I can be an American citizen and being Dutch. My passport doesn’t define me: it’s me, my personality and the whole ‘Edith package’ that makes me me, not a blue or burgundy passport.

So I plow on, thinking up excuses to make this my priority (I can vote for the person who I think is more fit to lead this country), alternating with excuses to put this on the back burner (It doesn’t matter, won’t be able to get it done before the election anyways; I need this money right now to finish my remodeling project)


The current Presidential Election doesn’t really help with in my decision making process.

My husband, who was Dutch and became a citizen over a year ago, received a very nice letter from President Obama. I don’t even know if I want to receive a letter from the future president.

I don’t even know if I can still become a citizen. I am, after all, a foreigner, an immigrant, from a wild country where abortion and cannabis are legal no less.

Maybe I end up behind a wall, maybe all will be fine, who knows.

I think I will sit this one out and wait what my fellow Americans decide.


Let it be November 8 soon.

Edith Schriever

About Edith Schriever

I am a Maine-igrant from the Netherlands. While my scientist husband fell in love with the beautiful research institute here, I fell in love with Mount Desert Island. Mountains, ocean, wild life, peace and quiet! A culture change? Yes, a bit. Americans are not at all like the Jerry Springer audience I saw on TV when living in the Netherlands, well, at least not everyone. Portions are big and toilets small and low; I have learned to embrace the cultural differences.