03 March 2012

Tina vs the Red Tape Dragon

I was a total FIEND last night, and beat my Ikea crap shelves into submission.  And I even did all the screws by hand, which was  feat unto itself, seeing as how they really resisted being screwed.  The result is that I now have two bookshelves that are pretty shelf-like, although as a general rule, shelves shouldn't wobble this much.  

Pictures of my room!  It's actually quite giant, 150 square feet, and now that I've started putting things on the walls, it almost looks like I live here:

Above my desk are all the random pieces of artwork my friends have sent me, including Jean's dramatic interpretation of Europe in winter, and Claire and Jen's epic "WHORE BAG Merry Christmas or something I guess" sign.  

I spent today exploring the city and learned that there are three languages you can expect to hear on a daily basis: German (for obvious reasons), Chinese (partner university in China) and Spanish (ditto, except in Spain).  If you're me and you live right across from a giant building currently housing gypsy refugees, you can also expect to hear a constant stream of Serbian and Roma being shouted out windows and falling onto the deaf ears of screaming children down below.  Of these five languages, there's only one I look like I should speak.  Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

In other news, I'm trying desperately to matriculate, but the hula-hoop jumping never actually ends.  Now I'm fighting with two insurance companies on both sides of the Atlantic, one of which doesn't want to send copies of the contract to people who aren't the purchasers of said contract (i.e, my parents), and one of which doesn't want to give me a letter for matriculation saying they don't have to insure me without proof times one hundred that I have health insurance elsewhere.  In this case, 'proof times one hundred' means, oh, hey, the insurance card with your name on it isn't good enough, and why should we help you anyway, seeing as how you're not insured with us? Which is a pretty fair point, it's just a difficult one to work around when you desperately need this letter for your studies.


Germany is well known for many things, one of them being permanently ensnared in an exhaustive, contradictory, and generally ineffable system of bureaucracy.  Said system mostly boils down to an obsessive need for proof proof proof that's vaguely reminiscent of a triumphant five year old dancing around on the playground yelling "na na na na boo boo."  A copy of your bachelor's degree is not enough--you also need to prove you went to high school, which is totally not redundant even though you can't get a bachelor's degree without first going to high school.  Copies of important documents are not enough--you need to take the originals to town hall and pay them for the privilege of watching them copy, print, and stamp it for you.  Letters of recommendation from your college professor are not enough--said professor needs to get them stamped by the university, or, if your professor is American, where they are not so overly fond of the stamp, you need to enclose a letter saying "Hey, this isn't getting stamped because the American educational institution has not yet developed a passionate love affair with its insignia."  Paying rent is not enough--you have to prove not only your own citizenship, but your parents' as well, and, when you can't, you get a subletting contract instead of a main renter contract.  

It's an endless cycle of pointless bureaucracy, and every time you congratulate yourself for having done it, the Red Tape Dragon rears its ugly head and sends you on yet another quest.  And off you go, to this building or that building, to get this signed and that stamped, navigating weird opening hours and an army of unhelpful representatives--a quest that's completely lacking in even the most basic of Redeeming Quest Features, such as the Holy Grail or migrating coconuts.  And not once will you be asked the airspeed velocity of a European swallow.

I know it'll all eventually work out, because it has no other option but to work out.  In the meantime, however, it's not so much a pain in my ass as it is a colossal hernia.  


Anonymous said...

paper cranes =)


Anonymous said...

You must have inherited the "let's put furniture together without the proper tools" gene from your mother.