Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To America and back in one hour

Don't know if it was risky to go to the U.S. Consulate today or not. In Moscow, maybe. But they don't seem to be likely targets for "activity."

Language confusion...
I successfully applied for my new passport today (after filling out the form a few times). When I pick it up next week, I will have to get it translated in a hurry and dash over to the local authorities to get my residency stamp transferred. Foreigners must be registered here within 3 days, and my old registration will be canceled along with my old passport.

The scene at the Consulate hasn't changed much over the past few years. What has changed is the new "appointment" system. It seems like a joke because there is NEVER a line at Citizen Services. Well, maybe I've had to wait a few minutes while they dealt with someone else or did something paperworky in the back. But in general, it's a ghost town.

I suppose they want to 1) know exactly who is going to be coming to the Consulate on a given day and 2) reserve personnel for emergency cases (stranded tourists) and non-citizen issues. But that's just my guess. continue/-

I arrived about 15 minutes early and wasn't even allowed in the building; I had to go wait across the street for another 10 minutes. It seemed a little harsh, especially considering the weather was in the 30's! But my future hubby is the bigger hero as he waited outside for me the whole time. There was also a group of hopeful visa applicants, evidently some Russian youth wanting to spend their summer in the U.S. Andrei gets to be in that category soon. :)

While we were still waiting outside, a group of bespectacled American businessmen in wrinkled khakis and blue blazers approached the Consulate and guffawed about something, to the non-amusement of the Russians.

Security was standard; I had given my Kindle to Andrei and removed change from my pockets, so I got a comment as to "many things for hair" in my purse, but that was it.

While I was waiting to be served, another American came in and said hello and we immediately started gabbing about where we were from, etc. I was amused thinking about how I would never say hello to a strange Russian, although we might compare notes about paperwork.

I have to admit to being a little nervous that the people waiting on me at the Consulate were Russian, only because I was afraid there might be a misunderstanding. The first girl was very young and her English was so-so (we could have spoken Russian, but it's the U.S. Consulate after all). However, she was quite efficient at helping me with the computerized form, and ran anything in question by her superiors right away.

The woman higher in command is quite knowledgeable; I think she's worked there for several years. So I'm pretty confident that my documents are in good hands. And even more confident that God is watching out for me!

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