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Published: September 29th 2006
I was on my bike for most of the day yesterday. I normally don't have to wake up early on Thursdays since my class starts at 1:45, but yesterday I had a meeting at 10am with a man named Huub who helped me set up my online student account and assign me the classes I'm taking. It was a little painful waking up at 8:30- I think I'm a bit spoiled here with my late classes. =) After the meeting, I rode into town (about 20 min) and went to the bank so they could open my online account since I got all the dandy paperwork. I also got some information about the discount train card. It's 55euros and for a whole year you get 40% every train ticket you buy. So that got me thinking...if the card can be used at the electronic wall terminals to buy your ticket, nobody will ask you to show ID. This means that I can split the card with somebody who also wants it and then when I leave, they'll have use of the card too. I'll have to investigate.
After the train station, I went to the city hall, waited for 25 minutes until my number was called. I was told before arriving that as a student I have to register myself with the city police so they know where and for how long I'm living in Enschede. Well I spoke to a nice lady who told me that I actually needed an appointment for all of this and that I actually need to make the appointment in Hengelo, the next town over. She told me that as a visitor, you can stay 3 months in The Netherlands with no visa. I'm staying for 4, but she said that if I apply for a visa, it's 810 euros (I almost died when I heard that...nobody ever mentioned it before) and the paperwork can take between 2 and 3 months to process. So basically if I wanted a residence visa, I would receive it as I fly out to go back home.
So here's the plan we decided on. I have 2 passports and I left my American one in Amsterdam because I didn't need it here and it's better to have them in different locations if something were to happen. I flew in on my American, so my entrance stamp is nowhere to be found in my Canadian one. So, the lady told me to go to the Hengelo police station, say I need a sticker in my passport since I'm a visitor, and don't really tell them that I'm here for 4 months. She said it should work.
After the city hall, I went to class and then met up with Lea, an exchange student I met on Tuesday from Israel! She is such a nice person and we sat and had coffee at one of the outdoor cafes. We talked for over two hours and then walked around the city. Three and a half hours later, we said goodbye and I rode home for a quick bite to eat. I spent literally 20 minutes at home, dropped off my backpack and rode back to the town to meet up with Nienke, the Dutch exchange student who came to UW for a quarter. We chatted for another two hours at a different outdoor cafe with some tea and cookies. She was really excited to see me here as was I! I have now realized that when you say, hey let's grab some coffee, it's a 2+ hour event. I'm in no rush at all, so I find it lovely.
Yesterday I called and made an appointment for 10am today. I rode to the train station, parked my bike, bought a return train ticket for 3 euros, hopped on the train and took the 8 minute journey to Hengelo. I had never been there before, so I asked a few people which way the police station is. A quick 5 minute walk from the station, and I was there. I was instructed to press a little doorbell button once I got inside and soon a lady greeted me and I entered a very tiny room with blue walls.
Lady: Hello, passport please
Me: Sure. (In my head, I'm thinking, does she want to know why I'm here? She never asked)
Lady: Thank you
She leaves the room with my passport for about 5 minutes. I can hear her talking with another man and her repeating the word "stamp." Hm...I hope this is going to work. She returns.
Lady: Hi, I was unable to find the stamp in your passport...
Here is where I could have taken two roads. Road A: tell her the situation or Road B: play unknowing stupid foreign girl. I took Road B.
Lady: Did you arrive in Schipol Airport?
Me: Yeah, I did.
Me: Oh, a few weeks ago (this was stretching it)
Lady: When are you leaving?
Me: End of December or the beginning of January, I forget what my ticket says. (So this was a white lie, I mean whenever I went to talk to somebody about something I always heard different answers from every person I talked to...)
Lady: Well that would be almost 4 months and you're allowed to stay here 3...
Me (didn't know what to respond with): Oh..uh...well the Enschede city hall said I could come here, I don't know...
The Lady looks at my confused look (good acting), confused herself, and says: Okay, one moment. She leaves for another 10 minutes, I hear the click of a metal stamper, and a lot of talking. I crossed my fingers. The lady returns, hands me my passport and told me that she issued me a visitors visa until January 3rd. !!!!! What luck,eh? Thats the exact day I leave the country. =) When I leave, I just have to give a postcard to the passport control that says that I'm actually leaving. The stamp is actually a big, colorful sticker that takes up an entire page in my passport. It is pretty with holograms and a silver decal. cool!
Well, for 3 euros and a bit of gambling, I'd say it was definitely worth the try! This means that the 20 page (literally) packet that the school gave me to fill out can now be shredded!
I left the police station, caught the wiffs of a bakery nearby, and celebrated with buying the tastiest warm chocolate croissant I've ever had.
I miss you guys, but I'm having fun and learning lots (In school too, I promise) =)
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