Archive for the ‘experience’ Category

Officially Here

Posted: March 4, 2010 in english, experience
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So here we are. It’s only been 7 full days since we got here. Our newcomer affairs seem to be going smoothly. People were telling us that the officials may be difficult to deal with. Fortunately, we haven’t been getting more of that contempt than we can handle.

We successfully completed our address registration on Tuesday. The procedure was simple and clear: no questions asked, just the address you are staying at and some personal data retrieved directly from your passport.

Sweetheart doesn’t trust my German yet so we agreed to stick to English for the essentials whereas all niceties were to be chanted in semi-proper local.

We ran into the most friendly person at the information desk who also happened to speak English comfortably and willingly. After 10 minutes of waiting that we strategically used for speech preparation time, however, the calling system somehow skipped one number (ours exactly!) so we had to go back to the Frau for help. That turned out fortunate as well: after the confusion was sorted out, we ended up sitting at the desk of the only English-speaking officer around.

Besides country of origin, statistical data we were asked to provide included only marital status and religion. Just that. I couldn’t help noticing how our answers suddenly put us in a more favorable position. It was encouraging to watch the official’s initially stone-cold look become softer and more welcoming as we were advancing through the paperwork.

It is amazing how EU citizenship has profoundly raised our status across its territory. After so many years of painful and humiliating dealing with visas (consider the piles of required documentation, the non-refundable visa fees, the frightening interviews, the potential complications — and, most of all, the apprehension), we are now transferring from one member state to another as though they were slightly more remote regions within a single country.

I hope everyone appreciates the freedom of movement we have acquired over the last 3 years or so.

There are two of us who certainly do.

Shelter: check!

Posted: February 18, 2010 in english, experience
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When Benny’s labor contract was secured late in the year 2009, there were several things we had to take care of before she could assume her post starting March 1, 2010. Some of that had to do with passport extensions, purchase of airplane tickets, provision of health insurance, reducing personal belongings to some 30 kilos, data transfer, scanning of important documents, seeing everyone for a drink and a chat…

The most urgent thing, however, was finding a place to stay from day one of our arrival.

Luckily, that turned out exactly as difficult as we had expected. Five or six consecutive nights of browsing rentals’ websites were enough to get an idea of the market and the city layout. But another thing became clear as well: there was no way of signing from a distance — not for a couple from Eastern Europe, at least. In other words, the landlords had to meet us first before making a decision and supposedly “approving” us. Which was helpful in working out the best strategy: stick to existing contacts.

One available option was to live in a city located some 100 km from Benny’s workplace. Initially we concentrated on the numerous advantages of living with locals who were also our friends. There were so many ways in which they could help us integrate into our new community! Later, however, we imagined our daily routines and the commuter exhaustion that would be piling up throughout the week. It somehow didn’t feel quite right anymore, not even as a temporary solution. Soon that plan was altogether abandoned, probably to the joy of our potential hosts.

Another idea came up unsolicited by a future coworker of Benny’s, again a local person who found it kinda cool to share a flat with a same-sex couple she knew half of. Eventually, though, honey painfully admitted she didn’t like the prospect of spending more hours with a colleague than with her partner — so we had to back out on that one as well.

It took us some time to figure it out, but the option that worked out in the end had been there throughout the process. Benny’s former flatmate was looking to sublet that same room my partner rented for her 3-months’ internship last summer. Negotiations took more than two weeks of correspondence and around 50 euros worth of phone bills — yet finally the rental agreement was in our inbox ready for signing.

As we were preparing that contract for scanning, it suddenly struck us that we had never put our signatures next to each other under anything before. It is a sweet, satisfying thought to know that you are part of a joint commitment. Just like a real family.