Hi! I’m Caitlin and I am a modern languages student, studying French, German and Spanish for my BA. I’m currently just over halfway through my semester abroad in Mannheim, Germany before I spend my second semester in Bilbao, Spain. Before I started my new, exciting and scary adventure in Germany I knew that Germans loved paperwork but not as much as I expected!
After arriving back home in my native Scotland from cruising around the Mediterranean I had a hectic unpacking, washing, ironing and repacking session before I headed back to Glasgow Airport to embark on the start of my year abroad, which I was dreading but also rather excited about, having had a taste of what it is like to study abroad through my DAAD-Scholarship for a summer course at Christians-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel the previous year. Two flights, a bus, a train journey and a car ride later I had finally arrived at my accomodation in Mannheim; tired, hungry and with a 3 wheeled suitcase after one of my wheels decided to break off at Frankfurt Airport so I decided to wait until the next day to visit the International Centre at uni.
The next day I arrived at the International Office armed with my folder which contained everything but the kitchen sink; my passport, birth certificate, doctors letters, year abroad handbooks, acceptance letters, even a payslip which proved my second year address in Swansea! The process was very smooth and quick, so quick that I forgot to hand over my Start of Placement letter, which was to be stamped and signed so I could email it back to Swansea as part of my Erasmus grant. During this registration process I was given more pieces of paper which were my enrolment certificates at Mannheim Universität, a health insurance certificate and two Admeldungen (Registration Forms) one of which I had to fill in and one for my landlord to fill in before I headed to K7, where the Bürgerdienst (Residential Services) is located.
By Friday morning everything was signed and ready to be submitted but this also meant getting up at the crack of dawn in order to get a ticket with a number on it before I could hand over my forms. Eventually, my number flashed up on the TV screen in the waiting area and I was seen however there was one tiny mistake that my landlord had made on one of my forms which meant I had to get a completely new form to be filled out correctly and emailed back. Fast forward three weeks later and I had received my German tax number, yet another form to fill in from the Rundfunkbeitrag (TV and radio licencing) and a rather scary looking letter from the Bürgerdienst. Once I had translated the scary letter, it turned out that I had missed the deadline for submitting my corrected incorrect form but the civil servant who had been dealing with me never told me that I had a deadline!
With yet another form to be filled in I headed to the local pub that my landlord owns and showed him the letter that had come with the form. He filled it in correctly this time and the next day I got up early to hand my form in, only to discover (much to my great delight) that the receptionist could sort out the last wee bits of my residency registration and I wouldn’t have to wait forever to be seen, which meant I could go back to my bed!
Finally, after 2 months, all my paperwork was correct and at last my paperwork nightmare was over, or, so I thought, as the following week I received all my paperwork to register as a student at la Universidad de Deusto for my next semester. I hope that I don’t have as much paperwork to fill out when I leave in December!