Thursday, January 28, 2010

Run away, run away!

This is a part of my series on applying for temporary residency in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Summary of this episode:

-the medical evaluations can be done in several clinics throughout St. Petersburg. The FMS has a list which can be found on this page. In the clinics they know what you need for the temporary residency permit...
-if you don’t know Russian well, it’s best to go to an English-speaking facility, as a clinic isn’t always the best place for playing guessing games
-find out what documents you need before you go (I needed my passport, passport translation, and registration)
-allow a few days for the certificate to be prepared

And now for the long version.

I was not thrilled at the thought of entering any sort of medical facility, and my legs literally almost turned and ran the other way a few times as I was walking down the street. But I had already spent the first part of the day being nervous, and I didn’t want to waste another day in that condition...
read more/-

I entered the clinic and waited in line only to find out that I needed to go upstairs. But before going upstairs, of course, I had to hand over my coat to the cloakroom lady and put some plastic covers on my shoes.

On the second floor there were all sorts of people waiting in different lines, I think mainly for an exam related to getting their driver’s license? The diagnostic center did packets of tests like that.

The girl at the desk seemed annoyed at having to serve me and sent me to a window down the hallway. At that window they told me to come around through the door into the room.

I was told to have a seat.

“Passport, passport translation, registration.” It wasn’t a complete sentence, but at least I understood. Thank goodness I had gotten those documents ahead of time AND brought them with me!

She explained everything and I took in most of it. After paying at the front desk (2500 rubles), I went back to her to show the receipt.

The last thing she gave me were the two cups for the ____________ sample. I didn’t know that word, but since I was getting a drug test, I figured it out.

The tests were divided up by room and I had to sort of follow the numbers and go through them all. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to get in line. I’m usually fairly resistant to the Russian queuing rules, and this was no exception. People of all walks of life were standing around in plain view. “Excuse me, are you waiting in line to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases?” No way was I going to utter something like that. Of course you could just say the room number, but everyone knows what happens in each room.

So I ended up waiting in line several times when I didn’t really have to.

Russians have a few different ways to give commands. They either use the regular imperative, or they use the 3rd person plural. “We’re getting in line, we’re being quiet, we’re taking our seats.”

When I went to get my blood drawn, it was, “We’re getting our vein ready.” What does that mean? I was tested for HIV this summer, but I hadn’t paid much attention to the procedure.

“Which arm?” I asked.

“Doesn’t matter.” I rolled up my left sleeve.

“We’re getting ready.” What else did one do to get ready? My next step was usually to close my eyes. As soon as the nurse came over, I offered my arm and turned my head away.

“Is it your first time or what?”

“No, I just don’t like needles.”

She grabbed my arm and told me to make a fist or whatever and then let me turn away.

“__________your arm.” What? I kept my fist tight.

“_____________YOUR ARM.”

“I don’t understand.” I said.

“RELAX.” Ohhhhh. Oops.

She gave me a cotton ball and told me to hold it in place for at least 10 minutes or I would have a big bruise. I have barely a mark…

I stopped in to see the narcologist (English word?) and it was almost like a friendly neighborhood visit. She and another woman who shared the office were very interested about my life in Russia. Of course I realized she was simultaneously writing an evaluation, but it was still low-key. I tried to read her notes afterward. Something about eye contact, demeanor, etc.

The last group of tests was called “therapy.” I thought it was going to be some sort of mental evaluation but she ended up asking me about chronic diseases. I said I didn’t have any. Well, that was a little bit of a stretch, but it’s not like I’m bringing anything bad into the country.

After I had made the rounds, I still had to go across the street to get the lung x-ray.

I entered the office and registered, and then had no idea what to do. I bought a pair of the shoe covers, but the cloakroom lady told me not to put them on until I entered the changing area. I wasn’t sure about the x-ray rules and etiquette. What was I supposed to take off/leave on? As I stood in line, I had a panic attack while imagining a communication crisis.

Then an attendant came out and said since it was mostly women in line, we could all enter the dressing room. Whew. We all entered and a mother and daughter immediately removed certain articles of clothing, so I knew what to do.

When it was my turn, I checked in with the (female) technician and explained that I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so she showed me how to stand. Then it was “Don’t breathe…now breathe.” That was easy.

After waiting about 10 minutes for them to print out my x-ray, I headed back across the street to the clinic (coat off, shoe covers on) to hand it to them.

Results on Friday…


  1. BIG HUG!!! Been there, done that! and I know it's not much fun!
    What really shocked me was the 2500 r - WOW'zer!
    Hang in there - it is SO WORTH not having to leave the country for visas every few months! ; )

  2. I heard it was like 3500 in another place! I don't know, maybe I didn't do enough research, but I think the prices have probably gone up recently. Do you have temporary residency? I need to explore your blog more.

  3. Hi Elizabeth,
    I have a 'vit na zitelstva" - the one you can get after the temp permit. It is wonderful. I don't have to fill out any papers for FIVE YEARS! HA! (well, that's not exactly true . . . I do have to fill out something that proves I paid/or didn't have to pay taxes, once a year! ) : )

  4. I'm guessing you did it without the quota if your husband is Russian? Still, good to know somebody got it!


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