Sunday, February 1, 2009

Piles of Paperwork…January 20, 2009

oops...sorry, a little out of chronological order here...

Another long post; “diarrhea of the mouth” as Jenna says. So here’s a summary:
  1. German bureaucracy is everywhere.
  2. Library is mellow
  3. My work mates are cool. I drank champagne at work 15 minutes after arriving.
  4. Start working Feb 4.
  5. We are out of shape.

German bureaucracy is not online. I have been swamped with paperwork in the last two days. I met up with Bettina on Monday and we descended upon the immigration office. We met with three different departments all in the same building, signed and filled out three different sets of papers, showed my passport three different times, and countless times she asked directions on where to go next. This task alone would have taken me a week to do, but luckily I was with a native and it took 1 hour. Bettina did all the talking---all I did was smile. We are registered in Ludwigsburg at our apartment, but we have to wait  for more paperwork from my employer to get the 2 year working permissions. 

Afterwards, we picked up Jenna and Mayzie back at the apartment and opened up our bank account. I think we signed 20 documents—there was more paperwork for this bank account then there was for selling or buying a house. Insane. It went smoothly, thanks to Bettina and her translating skills, and we are the new owners of a German bank account at HypoVereinsBank with 200 euros in it. Today we tried and failed to get an internet connection and a cell phone. Both require 2 year commitments and they need proof that we will be staying in Germany for two years, which means that they need the working permissions, which probably will not come until late next week. We learned all of this after filling out all the paperwork, signing the contract and waiting around the shop for the approval to come through, which it did not. So we cannot get the internet at home or get the phones. Frustrating! They make it very difficult to get setup over here, but it will come with time. It’s hard because emails and the internet are the only ways for us to really keep in touch with home. 

We found the local library, and they have internet computers so we will have to start using them, until the papers come through. The library is amazing—lots of glass and space for kids to play and climb and bean bags…very well laid out and mellow. They have an awesome movie selection so we got a few today and some learning German books. Everyday we are improving our German and we are taking it pretty seriously, so its only a matter of time…. a long time haha. Bettina will enroll us in an Integration Course once I start working or soon after. Its twice a week for 1 year! I guess they teach you all about Germany; the politics and the culture and of course the language. Should be cool. Most classes are at night,  but there are a couple during the day that offer daycare services, so Jenna will use that for sure. The government pays for it. We are also entitled to a 154 euro a month stipend for having a kid, which will start coming in the mail soon. Bettina filled out the papers for us. Amazing. 

Went into Stuttgart with Bettina on Monday after the bank stuff and met my boss and the other people that work there. It was pretty surreal. We were a little late so they were all in the meeting room and we walk in. I shake hands with the boss, the guy who hired me (Mathias) and then I am asked to introduce myself. I maintained confidence and was professional, but inside I was quaking, trying to think of some German words to throw in, but none came. They all seemed to understand my key words, at least. The rest of the meeting was translated into English for me, which was nice, and afterwards we adjourned to the next room for snacks and some champagne. Around 5 of the 15 people there were smoking in the office, that was weird. It was a very mellow scene and everyone was very nice to me. One lady had an American husband so she knew great English and the others did just fine. I still feel bad that I cannot speak the local language but at least we can communicate somehow. I got a ride back from a colleague who lives very close to us and on the drive we passed HQ/manufacturing for Porsche, Mercedes, Audi and BMW. This is the automotive mecca. 

I will be starting work on Feb 4, so we have over 2 weeks of vacation still. I wish we had easily accessible internet to help guide us. There are tons of things to do within train and bus distance, so we’ll start on that. Should be awesome. 

Being forced to walk everywhere like we are now makes us realize how out of shape we are. We have been getting tired very easily. Mayzie walks at a sub human pace and we almost end up dragging her around. I suppose we will get stronger. It’s so easy to walk everywhere and most things are close so we will get stronger. 

Sorry this is so long—lots to say I guess. I am not sure how to use this blog thingy. Should I blabber on like this, like a journal, or should I just post a funny thing every now and then?? Not sure yet. Jenna thinks the latter…that I should post about moments and pieces, not blow by blow. Maybe we can do a mixture.


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