Visa Revisit

I have spent the last week immersed in websites and emails to sort out what it really takes to get into Germany and stay there. For the sake of anyone reading this and my own pride, I'll skip over everything I got wrong and straight to what I know for a fact.

As an American, I can enter any of the states in the Schengen Area (all EU countries except for the UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania) without a visa and remain there for 90 days. Once I've moved in, I can register my place of residence with the appropriate office. This has to be done within a week of arrival. After that, I can apply for a residence permit. Applying for this residence permit without a visa is practically identical to applying for a visa itself in terms of the required paperwork. I'll have to make an appointment and wait 6 weeks after applying to actually receive the permit. Thus, acting early is essential! You do not want your visaless grace period to run out before getting the residence permit. However, once you do receive the permit, you can use it to travel anywhere within the Shengen Area.

Here are some helpful websites for more detailed information in Germany.

Residence in Germany
Contacts for Various Demographics
Contact Information for the Office Servicing RWTH Students
(The above link also has useful documents offered in German and English on the bottom right)
Registering Address for RWTH Students

Housing Sweet Housing


With a month and a half to go before leaving for Germany, I finally have a definite place to stay! Literally the day after I sent a few frantic emails asking for an update, I received an offer for an apartment style dorm room just ten minutes away from the main campus and right across the way from the fitness center. That should help keep me balanced as I explore a culinary land of meat and starches. yum.

I also have the date of my enrollment meeting. October 1st, the same day I can move in to my apartment. Since I booked a flight figuring that I might need to be in Germany earlier than that, I will have a few days in some youth hostel before I really get down to business. I intend to spend most of that time unconscious. A 6 hour timezone change makes for one sleepy traveler.

As a random aside that will likely come up again later...there is a free class at the gym called acrobatics, another one called wheel gymnastics, and yet another called juggling.

Student Visa Specifics

It turns out, you need an appointment. It also turns out, the earliest one is a few weeks away. It also also turns out, it's at 8 in the morning in Chicago. This equals getting up at 5am in my case. When I arrive, I will not be the only one scheduled for that time slot. There could be several people waiting to be taken care of, and this may not even be the first appointment of the day, meaning there could be overflow from the previous appointment. When getting your Visa, bring a book.

There are a number of other things you'll need to bring as well. Most of them are included on the website that I linked in my last Visa post. Here it is again for good measure. However, after booking my appointment, I received an emails saying that I needed the following as well.
  • An official letter from your insurance company saying you are covered for
    • $50,000 at minimum
    • any expenses which may arise during the stay in the Schengen States
    • repatriation for medical reasons, including mortal remains
    • urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death.
  • The email giving you all the information above and proving that you made an appointment
I'm crossing my fingers (or pressing my thumbs to be German about it) that the insurance company comes through for me in time. If not...well I'll just stick to contorting my hands for luck.

My Bad...maybe

I was looking over possible courses at RWTH, trying to see if they fit together in my schedule now that the class times for 2013/14 have been released. This process is somewhat confusing, as different courses will follow different "link paths" so to speak. Some, if you click on them, take you to a list of "modules" which are either the main sections of the course or alternative lectures that cover the same credit requirements. I'm not sure which. Then, the place where the link to the classroom and time seems to move about for each class. Worse, some courses have lab components. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to find when they are offered. Looks like I'll be spending the next week frantically emailing my advisor.

However, in the process of looking over courses, I somehow got it into my head to look up the description for the class Regelungstechnik, a controls class that had been used as an ersatz "Dynamic Systems and Controls" by previous mechanical engineers but had been deemed an unsuitable substitute this time around by the professor that teaches DSC. When I looked over the course description again, I decided to compare it to my translation. It had 3 weeks worth of material that I did not have in my original. Whether the course itself changed or I had mistyped it the first time I do not know. What I do know is that if my updated translation gets the thumbs up, I'll be feeling mighty compunctious for some of my more heated remarks about the professor.