Friday, October 9, 2009

Bureaucracy and student life

I have felt like a secret agent, receiving one assignment after the other. Either that, or an errand boy. Anyway, the bulk of my paperwork is over, at least for a month or two.

I finally got my metro pass a few days ago. As far as I understood, the procedure normally goes like this:

-you fill out a form at the university
-they give you an invoice that you take to the bank to pay (this covers the cost of the plastic card)
-your information gets sent to the transportation authorities
-you receive notification that they have your information
-you go to the student headquarters of the transport authority with your passport and bank receipt
-they make your card
-after 10 minutes, you go to the kiosk in the metro and pay the monthly fee to begin using the card +/-

In my case, I went to the transportation authorities, but they didn't have my information. "But I was notified that it was ready," I said. "Well, you're not in the system." I couldn't argue with that.

I waited a few more days and tried again. They still couldn't locate me in the system. I got home and called the main office and they couldn't find me either.

Then I notified the university that I was having trouble, and they said they would fix the problem. A few days later, they notified me again that I could go pick up my metro pass.

At this point I was spending about 100 rubles/day on transportation. And the student metro pass is 500 rubles for a whole month. So let's just say I didn't want to waste any time...

I went to the transportation authorities, same procedure. They couldn't find me in the system. BUT this time they told me to go next door to the department that works with passengers, and ask them how my information is entered in the system. Apparently, there is sometimes a problem with foreign passports, because we have a different number of digits. Something like that.

So I went next door, and they took my passport and did a lot of tapping on the keyboard, and wrote on a piece of paper which then got stamped.

Armed with this new bit of information, I went back to the student department, where they told me to sit while they too did a lot of tapping on the keyboard. Then I was told to sit opposite a camera, look at the "birdie," and not blink. A minute later, I had a plastic card with my photo and information on it. They hyphenated my first and middle names, but that is beside the point. I was so impressed by the technology! It was a complete contrast to the long search for my name in the computer.

So I waited the requisite 10 minutes and then paid the fee at the metro terminal. Hooray!

After class the next day, I was fighting a cold, but managed to stumble over to the administrative offices to pick up my contract and student ID. The ID is of the "homemade" variety that I mentioned in a recent post. The photo and insert (handwritten) were cut out with scissors and pasted into a little cardboard holder, which had been covered over with red paper. The stamp makes it official, of course.


  1. sounds like typical life in a foreign country. it can be exhausting! how are you, friend? what's new in your world?

  2. Hi Ruth! I AM exhausted, but I have to say that it is easier being a student than a teacher! A teacher's work is never done. I will be teaching some to keep me busy, though.

  3. Stamps are good. The only thing better than stamps are those little soldered strings. I love those.


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