The In's and Out's of Getting In and Out (short blurb)
Getting registered for (pretty much) anything in Germany--or at least in Landau--seems to be much easier than getting out of the system.
For example: At the beginning of my stay here, I had to register at the Auslandsamt to gain a temporary citizen-of-Landau status, my student visa, as well as fill out a stack of forms. And pay €50. Other than the immediate language barrier (which is now nonexistant), the sudden need to pay €50 cash, and needing to come back a second day to finish everything, the process was painless and simple.
The same thing goes for the University. We went to the Student Affairs Office, waited in line, nodded our heads a lot, and were registered at the University for the first semester, and later automatically for the second. Simple.
Insurance wasn't that simple -- we were more or less bullied into signing up for German insurance, regardless if our US insurance promised full coverage or not. True, insurance here is cheaper, but the lady didn't have to be so aggressive and condescending about the whole thing. But other than that, it was "sign here", "bank info here", and finished.
But now... I went to the insurance office yesterday to notify them that I needed to cancell the insurance plan as of the payment in August, and things were not that simple. After waiting for almost 10 minutes without anyone offering to help me (Latvian banks and Polish post offices have little stations where you push a button for the respective department you want to talk to -- very nice and organized. At the insurance office here in Germany, all you have are lots of chairs and potted plants), a younger woman asked if I was waiting for anyone in particular (does it LOOK like I am, slick?), and then proceeded to help me. After telling me information I already know ("it looks like you're on our normal insurance plan"...YOU THINK?), she went away to talk to someone who knew more than her. When she came back she told me that they would need, when it boils down to it, a written confirmation (I hear that and am reminded by doctor's or parent's notes as excuses for being late to school) note that states I will actually be leaving the country when I say I am. And such a note can be attained from my University here in Landau.
I ask, what, pray tell, does the University have to do with when I leave the country?
I managed to leave the office without crying in frustration and swearing (that happened outside), discussions with both of my parents followed, and I still thought that it was stupid to go the Uni to get this paper. Wouldn't a photocopy of flight tickets and passport work? I told the girl at the insurance company "I still don't see how the University has anything to do with this" (to which she replied, "Yup, okay! But we need a note like that, and you can get it from the University."), but it was like anything I said or asked bounced off of her face.
THEN, later, Sonia suggested going to the Auslandsamt. GREAT! Now THAT'S something that makes sense! Go to the office where I registered as officially staying in Germany for an extended period of time, and get a note from THEM! SOMEPLACE THAT HAS SOMETHING DIRECTLY TO DO WITH MY ENTERING/LEAVING THE COUNTRY! So, getting out of the insurance plan is difficult, because I have to go around to several offices just to take care of this.
Other than that, my student status expires in September. I've also to make stops at the bank and at the post office. Hopefully those will be easier things to take care of.
Until then... a little over two weeks left. Conversations with others are even more so filled with contemplative silences where it's understood that for those few minutes no one is allowed to look or talk to each other, because it might end up in a teary mess.