22.10.10

In which I rant about my Visa

Am Freidrichshain

The Cowl is well and truly finished now and I've been happily wearing it to work everyday.  It has turned bitterly cold in Berlin.  Well, not bitterly, but cold.  Cold and wet and a few times this week I've thought that perhaps I wouldn't ride my bike to work, but I have.  Mostly anyway.  I've made a semi-deal with myself that if I can ride my bike more-or-less everyday until I go on holidays in mid-November then I've "done well" and can ride the tram to work without feeling guilty when I get back in December.  But I'm getting slightly off topic.  The point is that the Cowl is finished and I've been meaning to take a photo of me wearing it so I can post some photos this week, but the self-portraits just aren't cutting it this week and Matthias is away.

How's your week been?

I was asked recently what bothered me about German efficiency.  The honest answer would be nothing really.  It's one of the nice things about living here.  But given that the comment was essentially an open license to whine, allow me to tell you about my Visa situation.  The German Auslanderbehorde (immigration office) superficially pretends to be another cog in the efficient German beaurocratic wheel.  Yet in reality it is one of the most unfriendly governmental departments I've ever had to deal with.  The Berlin headquarters are huge.  In what one would think is the interests of communication, it assigns countries to particular departments according to the countries official language.  Australia get bundled up with the US, New Zealand and several dozen African countries.  Turkey gets its own department.  There's another department for the former soviet states etc etc. The joke is that noone who works in the respective 'language' departments speaks that language.  Everything is in German, which would be fine except that really it's not.  At one point while waiting for my Visa in January, Matthias translated a sign which explained to everyone (in German) that if they needed a translator they should bring one along as there was no in-house translation service.  It would be funny if it wasn't so tragically unfriendly and, perhaps, a mirror reflecting how Germans really feel about immigration.  Actually it would probably be funny if it wasn't happening to me.
Cars at Night

The Auslandebehorder also has no telephone number. And it's website clearly requests that you don't show up "unannounced" but receive a writen notification of your appointment time in the mail.  Rather helpfully it provides a fax number and an email address so that you can request an appointment.  Four emails and two faxes later I'm still waiting for a response.  In the end, I know that I'm going to have to turn up and wait in an endless line to be eventually told that I should have emailed them for an appointment and the next appointment time is two months away, at which point my Visa will have expired and I'll have to start the whole process all over again.  So I'm frustrated and a little sick of German xenophobia.  Incidentally, many Germans don't actually consider me an immigrant which apparently makes them feel comfortable about mouthing-off  while I'm in the room about how immigrants are really only interested in  sponging off the government.  When I point out that I'm an immigrant who doesn't speak German very well and for all intensive purposes hasn't really assimilated into German culture yet, they look at me as if I'm stupid and say something along the lines of "we mean the other immigrants". Yeah, right.

But enough of my rant.  I'm feeling much better now that I've vented.  Thanks for asking.  Oh, and have a lovely weekend.  I'm planning on celebrating the Austrian National Holiday with Goulash and Austrian white wine imported for the occasion. Yep, Matthias and I are the "good" immigrants. Definitely.
49/365: Shopping Trolley

The pictures are completely unrelated.  I was mucking about with exposure and focus on my way home from 'Eat, Pray, Love' at Potsdamer Platz.  'Eat, Pray, Love' is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time.

18 comments:

Satakieli said...

Immigration to the U.S. is very similar. I've got a U.S. Greencard and am working on my citizenship for when we eventually leave Germany and return stateside. I'm an English speaker so I don't have the language problem, at least I didn't when I was going through the process while I was stateside, who knows what it will be like here... but American immigration is just an absolute nightmare, and insanely expensive.

I have an appointment next week, I have to drive all the way to the U.S. Embassy in Frankfurt, wait for ages and inevitably be treated like dirt by the people who work there simply because no one over the phone or via email can tell me exactly where I need to mail my paperwork. I've half joked that the US has so many illegals because they can't navigate the paperwork minefield... no one can, not even the people who work there it seems.

I also get people from both the U.S. saying "oh no, we mean THOSE immigrants, not you" when they complain about immigrants. I'm not considered an immigrant, essentially because I'm not Mexican, Korean or whatever. I'm white and I speak English. The attitudes are pretty disgusting all over it seems, I know people are the same way in the U.K. about the Polish immigrants.

Good luck with the process.

justine said...

I am trying to renew the children's Australian passports here in England and talk about petty xenophobia...what part of australia are you from by the way? funny what you said about eat, pray, love - I threw the book across the room it was so awful but everyone apparently wants to be the woman or be her best friend, the critics here say it's a gap year with popcorn.

Krystal said...

I have a feeling from reading other 'expat' blogs here that it's somewhat the same situation - well at least with the language barrier, it's expensive, etc. But I live in a small little town so it's super easy - we got our permit cards in like a week and a half! I was floored...I was expecting the worst I guess! And yah...immigrants are always up for bait anywhere..

Ashley Sisk said...

I love the pictures but seriously hope you get all that worked out soon. I can only imagine how frustrating that is.

allyn said...

the photos are great. i'm hoping the weekend brings some reprieve + all gets settled soon.

as an aside, you have a lovely blog here + need to thank rhianne for helping me find your space.

lisa said...

Wow. The system sounds horribly confusing (kinda like here in the U.S.)!!
Did not go to see Eat, Pray, Love because I'd heard the same from too many others. I was looking forward to it too :-(

Jamie said...

Argh - I feel your pain. It took me nine months of pointless work to get a visa in Brazil - and it wasn't a permanent one or one required to work for a Brazilian Company. Just a long term business one. I had to leave the country 3 times and come up with a never ending set of paperwork. So frustrating. A year later I asked for an extension, was denied. Left the country. Sent in a application for a new visa and was strangely given a 10 year visa. No logic at all.

Hope your situation is resolved soon.

andrea said...

I always got the feeling tat they make a difference between those considered gastaebeiters and the rest of us. Thankfully when I lived in Germany it was long after the wave of Spanish immigrants and I never felt discriminated against or treated as a 2nd class citizen.

Anika said...

I think it must be the same wherever you are huh? SO frustrating! It makes things way more tedious for everyone than they need to be.

I love these photos. I love playing with the focus like that. I sometimes try to replicate what I see without glasses in the camera lens so I can show others what I really see. My vision is HORRIBLE! But at least glasses fix most of that problem.

You have a good weekend too and here's hoping all gets worked out soon. Have you tried bring baked goods with you? I find that seems to help in any situation.

Wendy said...

I want to see your cowl!!!

Congrats on winning over at Kim's Cafe!

Love the shopping cart!

Flo said...

Je traduis et je reviens...

urban muser said...

sounds frustrating--i hope the situation gets better!!

oh, and i want to see the cowl! i think i have given up on mine--i tried to make it from something in my stash and it looks like i am not going to have enough yarn. i hate when that happens.

Brandi said...

It has no telephone number and you can't show up unannounced? I'm sorry, does the royal family live there or something? I'm sorry to hear there are such odd (and frustrating) practice there and I hope things work out for you soon. And are these photos yours? Love the ones taken at night.

Punctuation Mark said...

i feel so sorry you have to go through any immigration process... they are draining and make you want to scream at someone to see if they stop being so difficult... great images!

Stephanie said...

I'd come be a English-German translator... heh. Yeah, I think that is one of the small problems in Germany that my German dept. at school does not talk enough about. We tend to glorify anything German. As someone who wants to get a German citizenship, well, I do need to know about the good and the bad. As long as I'm white, I guess they won't mind me...

karen★ said...

I'm so sorry that it's such a difficult process there! Good for you for ranting though; this is definitely the place to do it where you can be reminded of how many people love you!

p.s. that third picture with the grocery cart is amazing. you are one talented girl!

Jess said...

Oh that sounds like a nightmare! Quite a few people at work are on visas from overseas and the stories they tell me about immigration so puts me off traveling and working.
Thanks for your thoughts regarding my break up as well. Its difficult but I'm just taking one step at a time and learning how to put myself first as well. Did the package I sent you arrive yet? It definitely should of by now.

Aspiring Kennedy said...

we moved to the UK this summer- and it is SO difficult. i feel your pain.

but i have to tell you, i laughed out loud on your review of Eat Pray Love. wasn't ready for that... :)