Sometimes the bureaucracy here kills me. I’m meant to have gotten my visa taken care of in April. Germany’s dropped the ball. Something has gone wrong. Now my boss has to do extra legwork to get things taken care of and I’ve got to sort out my income for the next year so I don’t get heavily taxed. Everything is on hold. It’s so frustrating. I can’t even begin to discuss, because I will get all worked up and right now I want to enjoy my morning cup of coffee in peace.
I hate asking for help though. Wait, scratch that. Let me specify, I hate asking my very capable boss for help and feeling more childlike. But just her position and native speaking skills make things come together much quicker. Germans love authority and even fluent speaking Americans who know all the rules and strategies and cultural etiquette, and will stubbornly not back off until they have the information they need from bureaucrats with job security for life, who can’t be bothered to lift a finger at work and believe people who speak German like children, must only be as intelligent as children never having heard their own English from an native’s ear, is NOT! as effective as someone who simply says into the phone, “hi I’m the boss!
And if that convoluted sentence isn’t proof that I live in Germany, I don’t know what is!
Maybe it’ll all work out for the best. Mostly it has to do with the city I live in. In the small university town nearby, my friends had no problem getting things sorted. Earlier when I was worried about a particularly nasty offspring of nazi parentage (even my boss said so!) that had had my case last year, I called up some integration offices for help and they assured me that my town definitely has a poor reputation for dealing with foreigners.
Ah my first post and I’ve managed to drop the word Nazi already.
In actuality, the more I live here, the more I like the Germans and I liked them well enough in the first place. Sadly though, every expat, be they willing or a refugee must deal with bureaucrats and this is not Germany’s best side. However anyone flying into America has to deal with customs and passport control, and based on stories I’ve heard maybe I’ve got the better end of that stick. They even look at me out of the corner of their eye, distrusting my decisions not to live in Ami land. Not to mention the fact the Europeans, having learned how to speak at least one foreign language passably, or failing that, at least have heard other languages on a semi-daily basis, seem to understand that screaming angrily will not in fact aid comprehension. And I feel compelled to mention that, should you be lucky enough to be allowed to study in America, you will need to PAY the US government to spy on your family. Maybe this Bush era law has been taken off the books, but somehow I feel it’s not a huge priority.
At any rate, back to the matter at hand, I’ve been waiting since February to have this issue behind me. I never would have imagined that the end of June would come with no visa. And the thing that kills me, is that I only want to keep the job another year. After that time I will have to deal with a new set of rules for a new category of visa in possibly a new country! Call me a glutton for punishment!
BUT that being said: I can’t imagine living stateside. I may moan and complain and miss American easy-going friendships, but I love being surrounded by languages and having to interact with different cultural norms. I was bored of German for a while, but now I’m back on track to push it to the next level. And I love that I can go into work and learn from my students while I teach them to converse: both the Greek kids plotting how to get away with doing less and the German seniors whining about how they’ll never manage to remember anything. It’s the life I’ve chosen and it keeps this little Ms Ami busy.