Today I got up extra early in an attempt to get the coveted *Anmeldung from the **Burgeramt in Berlin. Having arrived back in Germany late last night and having had no sleep due to my incredibly creepy book (and several diet cokes during the flight), I duly made my way to a district I had never been to before. With my slightly deaf unpopped ears, I queued for around 45 minutes, before being told that I could not be seen without an appointment. It would appear I picked a centre that did not do on the day appointments. Despite the elderly woman in front of me in the line saying that she too, had come without one. However she was seen, while I was sent away. As you can tell, I’m not bitter about it at all. Not one. little. bit.
But at least the woman who turned me away gave me the forms I needed. So, turning to the internet for advice I discovered the best way to get an immediate Anmeldung appointment is to sit at home and refresh the site repeatedly, in hope that one will become free. Rejoicing at a method that meant I got to stay inside (I will always be a recluse at heart), I headed back to my apartment. I refreshed. And refreshed. I read some more of my quite frankly, terrifying book, and refreshed again. Finally I got an appointment. 5.36pm. Friedrichshain. 30 minutes away. HALLELUJAH.
I had about 40 minutes to fill out my forms before I had to leave – and that was when I realised that oh no, the trials of the Anmeldung had only just begun. Two pieces of A4 paper lovingly filled with tiny German print, lined spaces and check boxes. I started out confidently on one, translating it myself, only to then realise it was meant to be completed by my landlord. While the other one seemed to trip me up instantly by demanding to know my family name, birth name, first name and other aliases. Data transmission? Municipality key? How can I be translating things into English and still not understanding them?! What’s German for agnostic?!
By the time I had ruined one form and done 30% of the other, it was time to leave. And by the time I got to the U-bahn, I realised my ruined form meant there was no point in me going. I cancelled the appointment and trudged back to my apartment, the Anmeldung claiming victory once again. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but today, it made me shovel popcorn in my face and cry on the phone to my boyfriend like a sore loser.
Still. There is tomorrow. And this time Anmeldung, I will be ready. I have a wonderful you-are-the-best-person-ever housemate bringing me two freshly printed off forms home from his office. I have a list of places that wise users of the internet cite as being the pinnacles of on the day appointments. I have recently trained refreshing skills that are ready to go over the top and into the oncoming doom. And now I even have a sarcastic blog post, whinging about it all on the internet.
So here’s to a good night’s sleep and another early start eh? Also hoping my nearly completed book won’t make me have to move my bed again at 3 in the morning (I somehow felt safer next to the wall). If you’d like to read it, you can click here. I skipped ahead and read the last chapter last night. It’s a corker.
I really have no relevant pictures to go with this blog post so I hope you enjoy this appallingly Photoshopped picture of me and my boyfriend riding a turtle at the London Aquarium last week.
*Anmeldung literally translated means registration. All newcomers to Germany must register at an address if they plan to stay for a period longer than three/four months, work, have bank accounts etc. In theory it is relatively simple but the wait for an appointment can be as long as two months. I’m currently booked in for the 21st of August but I have a new job that demands I try and get seen sooner.
**Burgeramt: citizen office. Where good people go to waste their existence queuing for what felt like longer than the whole of Gone With The Wind with advert breaks. Tedious.
P.s. If you ever think making your phone a new language won’t make much difference, I can tell you that a lot of my language skills with today’s process came from having mine in German. Anmelden/abrechen (register/abort) is the same for Facebook, Twitter and the like.