Bier, Buchs, and Bureaucracy: The journey of an American International student in Germany

12/17/15

Germany_121715

Guten Morgen meine freunds!

It has been a week and a day since I arrived in the Old World and my experience thus far has definitely been an interesting one.

Jet lag is still taking its toll, but slowly and surely I’m adjusting. The weather here is surprisingly pleasant, no thanks to rising global temperatures. Albeit, it is nice to arrive in a place in which winter has usually an oppressively bitter hold on daily life. But on average, the sun is out and there is no sign of snow or ice anywhere. People are out and about riding bikes or walking to work.

Over the course of the week, I have seen several refugee families and many refugee housing developments; usually reissued shipping containers for functional modular construction which are sprouting all around the city. Cool thing is, the German government wants integration, so they don’t make a “ghetto” and instead place all of the refugees in one or two parts of the city. The refugee housing developments are interspersed so as to minimize segregation. Seeing this really puts things in perspective for me. Here I am, a white American male, not bringing with me any heart-held entitlement but with the privilege and choice to immigrate to this country just because I want to better my education. I find myself stressing over the ordeals of travel and applying online to a school and taking for granted my situation. But it all goes away when you see how other people struggle just to live, and how people reach out to help one another in times of incredible crisis.

The other day I rode my bike along the river for about 15 minutes to the art school to which I am applying. I had been having trouble online with my application form, and found that a technical error was hindering my application process so I thought it best to consult a school official on the matter. Once inside the remodeled industrial harbor side warehouse that now housed the education institution, I had to figure out who the heck I was supposed to speak with in regards to several questions I had and my troubles with the online error. When I found the International Student Office, I was able to speak with an extremely helpful representative who informed me what to do and whom to speak with. I was referred to the school’s Registrar’s Office. Imagine that! A school problem? Go to the school Registrar. Why didn’t I think of this?! I must have been so flustered by the process itself that it slipped my mind. So I thanked and said farewell to the International Student Officer, took the elevator to the 3rd floor and walked down the hall to the Registrar’s office. Of course, the Registrar wasn’t in her office until 15:00 PM (3:00pm) that day and at the moment it was 11:30.  I took the phone number down and I rode home with intent to call and get my answers over the telephone.

When I got home from the school I called the registrar. I’ve never heard of such a Registrar in the US education system who tackles so many student and personal issues. Obviously there is a different understanding in both the job description and probably definition of “Registrar” here in Germany as opposed to the US. I say this because the registrar helped me with everything. I was all questions and she was all answers.

Now that my application error has been cleared up, I have successfully submitted my application and await an acceptance notice from the school. Once I received word that my application has been processed, I will have to have my transcripts from the US sent to school in Germany. As this procedure continues, I marvel at how lax it all seems to be. I have come here with the American mind set of “Let’s get everything done quickly and promptly” so as to ensure I get a spot in the semester come 2016. My hasty-anxious mindset has been repeatedly confronted and suppressed by a more relaxed and calm outlook presented by all of the school officials I have henceforth interacted with. It’s quite amazing, and as time goes on I think it’s this slow, “everything in time and in its place if you will,” attitude that is indicative of the surrounding cultural aura.

After submitting the application, I received an automatic reply thanking me for my interest and my time invested in the application process and an assurance that I will be contacted by school officials on the status of my application as soon as possible.

Sigh of relief.

All I am waiting for now is for the print shop to finish printing my some images for my portfolio and a response from the school before the end of the month.

At this point I think I it is safe to say that I am slowly starting to embrace this calm and stable mindset when it comes to handling the many more trials to come in my education adventures.

That’s all for now folks,

Bis Bald!

Clayton

Clayton Winston Johans

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Filed under Education, Human Interest

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