New Residence Permit

In applying German visa, there are two options: less than 3 months visa and more than 3 months. However, even when one applies for more than 3 months visa, still one will be given 3 months visa and then one shall adjust this in immigration office in Germany. Yes of course it’s weird, why wouldn’t they just give a one-year visa at once? But normally there won’t be any problem to adjust this visa because one’s data has been filed in the immigration office where one will stay.

So my 3 months visa is valid until end of October. It means I have to adjust it before end of October. That’s perfect, because by early October I’ll be arriving in Bremen. But then there’s the surprise. October is the beginning of a semester, which means a lot of new foreigners are in the same state as me. And although there’s an immigration service in the university, which makes all the bureaucratic process less complicated, still this is the peak season for immigration affairs.

The office, called BSU, only provides public service 3 days a week: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And again, although they knew that October is the peak season for visa application, they are still not adjusting their service time. This cause pretty chaotic situation. The queuing line is very long and for hours. Everyday people start lining up in front of the office 2 hours before it opens! People even can queue for hours without getting anything! Very crazy!!!

So when I have to adjust my visa, I started queuing from 8 AM although the office opens at 10AM! So it means I had to stand for 2 hours just waiting for the office to open. And when I arrived, there were about 20 people in front of me! And after some times (the office still not open), this is the queuing behind me!

After fighting the cold and tiredness for 2 hours, finally the office was opened. But still that didn’t mean I could get the real quieting number. I had to wait for the first 20 persons before me. And then the chaotic thing started to happen. BSU serves visa application and residence registration. The latter needs not queuing. However there were some people who seemed to do the registration but instead they went to take the visa’s queuing number!!! The lady, who gave the queuing number, didn’t realize this; she didn’t know the queuing outside her room. So at around 11 AM, the queuing number had gone!!!

The lady informed us about this, which made us realized that something went wrong. How come the queuing number gone so fast? How come only less than 20 people, who started queuing 2 hours before the office opened, could get the queuing number… But this how it got interesting. The office had to take a lunch break at 1 – 2 PM and then it would open again for the next two hours. The people who had queued like me started to make an alliance. We organized ourselves to not let other people cut our queuing anymore. We set our queuing number until 15, and nobody could cut within. We remembered who was going to be the first, second, third, until fifteenth. And we also watched each other back. If there was a person wanted to take lunch break or toilet break, we promised to keep his/ her line. Now, this is what I called self-organization! I should have made my PhD research here in BSU…

So when the BSU opened after its lunch break, the arrangement worked. We really complied with the rule we set and ensured that nobody could cut in the middle. Once there was a girl who tried to cut the line and entered the office to get the queuing number, but poor her, she got slammed from us. Well you don’t want to make people who had been queuing for 4 hours to be angry!

Finally I can get my queuing number. I got it after queuing for 5.5 hours!!! And the visa adjustment process, it only took 40 minutes including my time in the waiting room!!! What a nightmare!!!

Fast-forward one month. The new visa isn’t attached to the passport anymore. It’s in form of a card, just like identity card, and it takes a month to get that. When I did my visa adjustment, the officer at BSU told me that I would be contacted via email when the card is ready. But after one month, I didn’t hear any news. To make things worse, my friend who applied together, had been contacted to get his visa! Okay, something is not right here…

So after a month plus a week, I went to BSU office to ask about my visa. And apparently my visa was already there for weeks!!! Yeah right, they would inform me eh?! But at that time I couldn’t get it right away because I have to queue, and the queuing number had gone… [sigh]. So I went again in the next day, queuing for awhile (I was glad that the peak season had past), and got my adjusted visa. Lesson learned: if you need something, be proactive! Aaaaah... at least now I can breathe freely before doing it again next year…!!!
My new residence permit/ Visa

Moving in to New Apartment

So finally… I moved in to my new apartment in Bremen on October 1st.  As I mentioned before, this apartment isn’t ideal but I really didn’t have a choice.  But maybe in a different perspective: I am destined to have this apartment.

The furniture provided are old and far from classy.  Just take a look at the pictures.  The cabinet reminded me of something from my grandparent’s house.  It even doesn’t have a handle anymore!  The mattress is hard.  Up until now, I still wake up with a few sore on my body. 

My old-fashioned and hard bed
The cabinet reminds me of my grandparent's furniture
Stiff desk and chair
Furthermore, the cleanliness of the room was below my standard.  There were spider webs and dust everywhere.  If one walk in the room without shoes or slippers, one can feel the dust stick on the feet.  I asked the caretaker to clean first before I moved in.  But I said that when I was in the kitchen, so he only cleaned up the kitchen!  Even that, it was still beyond my standard!  See, I really don’t have a choice!!!

So yeah, starting from that day, I was busy in making up my apartment.  Not just buying some things but also cleaning up part by part.  Even to clean it, I have to buy all the broom, brush, cleaning cream, etc.  And this happened between my registration activities in campus, so I felt like I always went home to an awful place.  Fortunately, on Friday, I had a free time.  So I can concentrate to just cleaning my apartment.  I spent 8 hours to clean to make it comfortable for me.  Take a look at the pictures to see the differences.  If you don’t see any differences, well at least I feel comfortable to live in there now…

My bed after a makeover
My kitchen after a makeover
My bathroom after a makeover

Panorama of my room from bed side
Panorama of my room from door side

Frozen Hair Oil

Indonesian Traditional Hair Oil
One of the specific things that I brought from Indonesia is traditional hair oil.  Funnily, the oil is freezing after some times in Germany.  I have to soak it in a hot water before using it!  Hopefully the cold weather wouldn’t spoil the ingredients. 

New Debit Card System

As always, the ATM card is also a debit card which one can use for purchasing something.  But now I realized there’s a ‘difference’ in the use of ATM/ debit card. 

Three years ago when I used my debit card for purchasing something, for example in a supermarket, I need to enter my PIN to a card machine.  Nowadays, I will get the print out of the transaction and I have to sign it.  (This print out system is used for credit card transaction).

Another thing, three years ago I can used the debit card for internet transaction.  But nowadays, it’s not possible.  Well at least, all sites that I have visited couldn’t take debit card.  This is very silly, because it means one must have at least one debit card and one credit card.  It so impractical, and having credit card is, of course, more costly considering the annual fee etc.  Weird…

I don’t know why they change the system, maybe there was a big scam that made them changed. 

Apartment Hunting

One thing that I haven’t learned about living in Germany is seeking for an apartment.  When I did my Masters, there is an officer in the study program’s organization who assists the students for finding apartment.  So although I had a problem with living place but I never really looked for an apartment.  But now I have to do it.  I have applied to the student apartment offices (private and public) but I only enlisted in a waiting list.

German’s Apartment-seeking Websites
So I have to look from other sources.  I looked at some websites like wg-gesucht, wg-cast, studenten wg, and blackboard in  The problem was, I am in Berlin and I can’t just go to Bremen to see the room.  And especially if the apartment is a shared one, the person who lives there wants to meet the new renter, to ensure they have good chemistry for living together.  So it’s tough, but I realized I had to make a trip to Bremen to check the apartment before decided to rent it.

Rate of Reply
So I made a schedule, I would go to Bremen on September 15th, two weeks before I move out from Berlin.  I started look for apartment on the last week of August.  Surprisingly, nobody wants to have an appointment for September 15th although his or her apartments were only available in October 1st.  They, who replied my request, said that whomever comes first would be served, they didn’t want to wait too long.  So from last week of August until first week of September, I kept getting rejections or even no replies at all.  But entering the second week of September, I got some replies.  But still, not all matched with my schedule.  I think, out of around 30 requests I only got 10 replies.

In the end, for my visit on September 15th, I got four potential candidates.  But when I checked it in the map, I realized that one of the candidates located very far from public transportation area.  The apartment is located 1.3 km away from the last tram stop.  This is too far especially if I carry something heavy after shopping.  Also walking 1.3 km to the stop during winter would be so painful.  So I decided to drop this one and cancelled it.

Hunting Day
On September 15th I started my day early, going to Berlin train station at 6 AM and traveling to Bremen.  I was so excited that finally I got a chance to see three apartments and would decided in the end of the day.  I already confused whether to have single room apartment or the shared ones, I tried to list all the positives and negatives from both sides…

When I went to my first appointment, I was a bit late because I couldn’t find small money to buy the tram ticket from the machine.  So I called the landlady that I would be a little late.  But then, the nightmare started, she said that the apartment had been taken!  What?!  And she said nothing to me previously???!!!  She said she e-mailed me, but I didn’t receive anything.  Maybe she typed the wrong e-mail address or so…

Sigh…  I was so down…  How could she did that to me…  But I tried to calm myself, I still have two more options.  So I waited for my second appointment at my friend’s place.  But again, the nightmare got even worst.  I got SMS from my second appointment, telling that the apartment isn’t available anymore!!!  OMG…  Now I only have one last shot…

Of course I started feeling stressful.  How if my trip to Bremen was a waste of time and money…  I kept looking at my Blackberry, afraid that there would be e-mail from my fourth appointment, telling me the bad news.  I also started to think so many possibilities: will I come again to Bremen next week?  Or should I just stay at Indonesian people’s apartment and look for my own?

Fortunately, until the time when I had to go to my fourth, and last, appointment, nothing came up.  So I went to the place with fully submissive feeling.  Maybe when I arrived, the landlord would just say that the apartment is no longer available.  But that was not happened, thank God!  The landlord was there and the apartment was still available. 

The apartment is 25m2, bigger than my previous apartment which only 16m2.  However the composition of the kitchen and bathroom, I found it odd.  They are too small and I think I would bump the wall during cooking.  But I am ok with the bathroom, it is small and sufficient for me.  In my first impression, I don’t really fond of the apartment.  But hey, I don’t have a choice.  If I don’t take it, I don’t know what kind of adventures that I have to face until I get an apartment.  So I took it right away.  I signed the contract.

My Apartment Building.

The main room.  The furnitures will come later.

Small bathroom and kitchen.
So there I was, going back to Berlin with a result: target accomplished.  I thought that I would look for another once I am in Bremen.  But then, looking for apartment will make me tired emotionally.  While if I decide to stay and start decorating, it will make me tired physically but not emotionally.  So I still don’t know…

There’re two advantages with this apartment, though.  First, the landlord/ caretaker lives in the building also, so if I need something urgently I could just go to his room.  This never happened before, even now in Berlin.  Contacting the landlord/ caretaker needs to be done in specific time and of course only in working days, not weekend.  Second, the apartment is located near my old apartment.  So I am so familiar with the area, I feel like coming home already. 

Oh well, whatever… I will decide everything once I am in Bremen.