12 January, 2005


Yes. That is the German word for Bureaucracy. It also means Hell.

Like I said in a previous entry, bureaucracy here is like one of those games where you have to go through hell to get one simple thing done. If you've ever played Zelda, you know what I mean. You see, in Zelda, you have to run around and take potions places and wake up sleeping people with pocket chickens and talk to weird things and take Frogs of Power and Eyes of Newt to other people before they expire so they can give you The Stone of Delightfulness that you take to a witch and in the end you get a nut. Yea. It's like that when you try to establish residency in Germany.

It's one thing to do it in a game. It's another thing to actually walk all over Pader-freaking-born to get everything you need.

When we got here, they gave us a list of things we needed to do exactly and in that order. It's a bunch of Käse! (A word whose definition is both "Stupid business" and "Cheese.") We had to:

1) Collect key for dorm from buddy. Incidentally, our buddies did not have our keys, so we stayed in their apartments. Sign lease (Mietvertrag) for the Studentenwohnheim (Dorm) at the Studentenwerk, which is next to the Akademisches Auslandsamt (or, for whatever reason, the AAA). Pay money for deposit and rent (which we couldn't do until we had a bank account--Point 3. So the "in this order" thing was already out the window).

2) Go to German Health insurance company (or Krankenkasse) to obtain a certificate releasing you from compulsory insurance. We needed to bring with us the university registration form (Zulassunsbescheid--think that word's long, just wait!), which we get in a later step, and proof of insurance from our home country, which they forgot to tell us to bring to Germany.

3) Set up German Bank Account. This is hard to do when your bank does not speak english. We had to fill out a transfer form to pay for our bus ticket and take the transfer receipt back to the Akademisches Auslandsamt. They do not have checks here, so you do the transfer at the bank and take the receipt to the person you should have paid. If you think this seems unnecessary, you may be right.

4) This is when you go to the Akademisches Auslandsamt (AAA). We had to bring several things with us:
  • Certificate of Health Insurance. This is also called the Krankenversicherungsbescheinigung. Yes, the Krankenversicherungsbescheinigung. I had honestly not realized that a word could contain so many Ns. Of course, I also didn't know they could span the distance of several countries.
  • Receipt of transfer for the bus ticket.
  • Newt Eye of Wisdom. This was to be obtained from the witch who lives under the ancient Temple of Largeandcombinedwords. Unfortunately we did not have the mark of the Euro on our foreheads and thus had to buy the Newt Eye of Wisdom off the black market in Prague.

After presenting the above items and solving a few riddles ("Answer me, these questions three..."), as if by magic, there appeared before us:

  • Our Student I.D. Don't be fooled. It's actually a large sheet of paper that is rather inconvenient to carry around in your wallet.
  • Proof that we were studying in Paderborn (Studienbescheinigung).
  • Proof of financial ability to survive here (Finanzierungsnachweis). I really don't know where this came from or how.
  • Frog of Power (or, Fraugaufpoverschuniginehstuckenebenungenerin). The Frog of Power came with no preservatives and would therefore expire exactly 3 hours from the time it was birthed on the table in front of us.

5) We then went to the Einwohnermeldeamt to present our passport and lease (Mietvertrag). We then received confirmation that we are registered residents of Germany. This is merely confirmation of residence, mind you, not our actual residence permit. That, we get in the next place, the Ausländerbehörde.

6) At the Ausländerbehörde, we sacrificed an ape and presented the following items:
  • Our passport. This, of course, had to be inscribed in stone, forged by the Lord and protected by the Sacred People since the Dawn of Time.
  • Two photographs. These photographs had to be taken by a man-goat born of a virgin horse. Unfortunately, the man-goat set up shop in the Ninth Circle of Hell. We realized that we needed these pictures when we finally reached the front of the line at the Ausländerbehörde. We had to leave our spot in line to cross the River Styx. Dante was nice enough to traverse the Inferno with us, but he could only go until about the 6th circle. We were thankful that we had been given the Light of Arwen earlier in our travels, which we used until Smiegel was able to guide us the rest of the way--this, of course, only after he tried to eat us.
  • Our Student ID Card/Gigantic Paper.
  • Matriculation Certificate. I honest to god remember neither receiving nor presenting this paper. This must be a glitch in the game.
  • The Frog of Power.
  • The Confirmation of Registration.
  • We also had to prove that we have the ability to pay for our living expenses while in Germany, levitate at will and raise (and/or commune with) the dead (either are acceptable).

After waiting in the line again to speak with the Ancient Sage of Those-Whose-Last-Names-Start-With-The-Letters-G-Through-L, we were finally admitted into his lair. This man had a special power. I'm serious about this. He did not need to breath as he talked. I swear to god, he narrated everything he was doing to us. I couldn't understand a word of it because it was all German, but good lord, I have no idea what in god's name that man could have had to say that entire time. I know there were some points when I heard him say the word Schnell, which in German, means "Quick" or "Quickly." But let me tell you, there was absolutely nothing SCHNELL about what he was doing. He also typed an insane amount of information into his computer. I honestly think he was either typing an email to his children or transcribing the dictionary. Honestly, forged in stone by the Lord or no, there simply isn't that much information on a Passport.

After several hours and much conversation between the Sage and himself, we were given a nut.
Now I have my nut. It's a sticker in my passport that says I can live here. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, and I am meeting a lot of great people. But gad, my clothes still smell like the Newt Eye of Wisdom.

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