Friday, January 7, 2011
austrian bureaucracy is probably worse than the turkish one. and trust me, the turkish one is pretty bad.
if you are a non-EU citizen moving to austria, you have a lot of fun ahead of you. enjoy! (enthusiastic tap on the shoulder). you have to extend your visa every year, which means you have to get up at ridiculous o'clock in the morning, go to that visa place in the middle of nowhere, take a number and pace in the corridor for hours with other people and crying children, only to find out that you have one document missing. they are very creative about that one document. just because you extended your visa with specific documents last year, doesn't mean that they don't want to see a different one this time. one that they never mentioned before. like that time when they suddenly decided that they wanted a signed document from one of my flatmates which states that i live with them. because the official document that stated my address and the rent contract wasn't enough. they also wanted it to state till when i could stay there. there was no such deadline but they said there had to be a date there, so i wrote 2030.
during that joyful time of the year when i have to extend my visa, i have to go to the insurance place to get some documents. last time i went there, i realized that the address on the paper was my old address. i told that to the lovely lady behind the desk and she asked me if i came here to change my address before. they have this very useful online service, with the help of which you can change your details by entering your name and insurance number, so i told her i changed it online. that's when she raised her head and looked at me for the first time. she gave me such a look that not only did i die a little inside but i also (for one second) wondered if she was blind. then i quickly realized that having sight could be important if one has to deal with paperwork for a living. with 20 people waiting behind me, she took the liberty to tell me off while burning my soul with her eyes:
- do you know how many people there are in vienna?
+ i don't know... more than a million?
- 2 million. what do you think would happen if all of them tried to change their details online?
+ ... (she actually waited for an answer)
- there would be chaos!
+ why do you have that online service, then?! it says on your website that i can do it online.
- it doesn't work that way, you have to come here in person.
+ well i didn't know about that. you could have just told me so, you don't have to be so unfriendly!
- i am not unfriendly. you try dealing with so many people every day and let's see how friendly you will be.
- i would but it's not my job.
and then she gave a fatal error and had to be restarted. all of the unsaved data was lost.
i really don't like it when officers tell you off as if you were a kid just because they are frustrated with their jobs and i'm pretty sure they come a little behind those desks every time they come up with a snappy answer.
bureaucracy = waiting, moody officers, papers, more papers, paper-cuts and stamps. i envy the popularity of stamps in this country. if bureaucracy was an american high school, stamps would be dating the cheerleading captain. when i was applying for a student visa here, they wanted me to get every single document i brought from turkey stamped with this special, international stamp which states that the document is same as the original. because all the documents had to be original documents and they still wanted that stamp on them, i had to persuade some officers in istanbul to stamp the back of my high school and university diplomas. yes, they wanted to see my high school diploma too. "so you're a college graduate, well done, but did you go to high school?"
i keep hearing that they want to see people's birth certificates, because an ID or a passport wouldn't prove that you were actually born and not made in a laboratory or abandoned by aliens. i wonder when they will ask for mine. maybe next time i apply for a visa extension, they'll decide that they want to see that... translated, stamped with 38743892 stamps, brought there by my parents and the doctor who delivered me.
my favorite form of bureaucracy is however probably the one i have to go through so that i can get a tourist visa. "what?! you have to get a visa to go abroad for a few days?!" my friends say. as the owner of a turkish passport, which is as useful as a pokemon sticker book, i can assure you that i have to get a visa if i intend to go abroad for a few minutes (except for some countries). now that i live abroad, i don't need to get a visa for EU countries (except for england and ireland). i've been to england once. i had to fill a 12 page long application form with supporting documents - things that prove that i'm not a criminal and that i have money and that i didn't steal that money and 398298392 documents about my family, who weren't even going etc. when i finally got the visa and went to england, i had to persuade this guy behind some desk that i was good enough to enter his country. i'm not even talking about passport control, this was right after i got off the plane. at least he wasn't unfriendly. he asked me some questions and then wanted to see my return tickets. he kindly informed me that they were in turkish. apparently buying things from turkey can cause that. i pointed out that the dates were in numbers. he let me go.
sooo my dear friends in london, this is why i haven't come to visit you yet. BUT going to london is one of my new year's resolutions. it's actually the only one i came up with so far. and dublin: as soon as i find someone to go with (and get a visa), YOU'RE NEXT.