So I have officially declared October 11, 2007 a Shitty Day. We had planned to go to Frankfurt to get start the process of getting my new passport (more on that in a minute). But we heard Wednesday that the train workers had declared that they would strike Thursday, but thankfully they ended up switching their strike to Friday.
So when we got married, we changed all of the necessary documents and accounts to “Mueller.” Except my passport. We can’t figure out if we said, “We won’t be travelling overseas for a couple years at least. It can wait,” or “Oh, we’ll do it next month when we get paid,” or if we just plain out forgot about my passport. Whatever happened in the fall of 2004, we didn’t get Linden a new passport with the name “Linden Mueller” in it. So, if you ever find yourself in this situation, remember these two things.
One: Buy your plane tickets in whichever name appears on your passport. You should be able to fly in and out of any country without any problems. The only time we had an issue was when I tried to pay for our luggage with my debit card, which of course is in my married name. The US Airways lady wondered why my ticket and my debit card were in two names, so I had to show her my marriage lisence.
Two: Despite what the frustrated, desk-bound lady at the local passport office says, you do not have to expedite your passport application for an extra $300 dollars so you get your new passport maybe before you leave. You do not have to be in America to get your passport. You do not have to send in your current passport to get a new one. Let me tell you what the passport lady who thought she had all the answers didn’t know.
American citizens can get their passports renewed at any American Consulate. Take the filled out application form, your passport, your passport pictures, and your marriage license (if you are in my situation) with you. Tell them you are living abroad and that you need to keep your passport on you. The nice man behind the glass will take your passport and marriage certificate, make copies, and kindly hand them back to you as if he does this every day. Which he probably does. Because American citizens abroad need to keep their passports on them at all times. Doesn’t the Springfield passport lady know that?! Grr. Sorry, it just seems like a question she should at least have tried a little harder to answer, instead of just BS-ing her way through me to the next person in line.
So we left the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt 67 dollars poorer, but confident and happy that I would have an accurate passport in however long it’s taking those things right now (I’ve heard that instead of the normal six to eight weeks, it’s taking 12 to 14 because of the new law requiring passports from re-entry from Mexico and Canada). So we got off the U-bahn a couple stops before the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof and checked out the Frankfurt Dom (cathedral) and Roemer remains (Roman remains). Wow. I have yet to see a cathedral that fails to take my breath away. Outside the Dom there were some walls from a church built sometime between 70 and 115 AD, and then some that were built on top of those in about 800 AD. They really weren’t too amazing to see, as they were just short little walls, but their age made them mesmerizing.
We headed back to Giessen, and went straight to the office where you register with the German government. Very smoothly and in about 20 minutes, Rob requested a new German ID card. We were feeling pretty productive, so we went ahead to the next office.
Here, we waited for 60 minutes before our number was called. When we got in there, we got some bad news. Apparently, I am working illegally right now. Since my contract is for October 1, the university should have had my work permit all ready by then. Plus, according to some agreement made at the Hague a long time ago, countries no longer have to recognize legal documents from another country. It’s not that our marriage isn’t legal, because it is, but the German government just doesn’t recognize it. The man didn’t even give us one teensy tiny clue about what we’d need to do to fix that problem. Next, he asks me how my German is, and I tell him it’s okay. Then, he starts telling us that I need to go to these classes and improve my German and all this stuff. So we leave there, completely deflated.
I mean, that was some shitty news. I am fairly certain that the university is working on my work permit, but that office doesn’t know it, and that man made us feel like were doing something pretty bad since I have been working since October 1. We know our marriage is legal, but no one has told us that there’s an extra step we needed to go through so the German government would recognize it. My German isn’t perfect, but I’m fairly competent, and I sincerely want to learn the language. It’s not like I am going to be here for two years and come home with no improvement in my German. I hope by the end of one year, I will have significantly improved my fluency!
So. What now? We have found some answer to the marriage certificate issue, and it looks like we need to have something done to our marriage license called an “Apostille.” I’ll try to get more information about that once I know it, but that one word should be enough help for anyone in this situation. And the work visa? I’m not going in to the office today, and my boss’s secretary isn’t there today anyway, so hopefully Monday we’ll have some answers on that front.