Moving here is really interesing, but MAN is it complicated. This week I recieved a letter from the Uni-Assist organization (they make sure all international applications are complete, and then only forward them to the Universities). Anyhoo, the letter stated that four of my applications were complete and therefore sent to the appropriate universities... AND that I should make sure that I was in fact registered in each university to pass the DSH, the second and hardest one (I alreay passed one in Canada - really hard and 5 hours long!). Well, for three days I have been so stressed out about this. I had no idea I have to make sure I'm already signed up for the test! After browsing the universities'websites for a while and not finding any info on the dates of these exams, or how to register, I finally find a student guide in which it suggests to international students to arrive in Berlin 2-3 weeks before the semester starts... enought time to find an apartment, but NO mention WHATSOEVER of the test. I'm assuming the test can't be sooner than 2-3 weeks before, but hey, with these german universities, trust me, YOU NEVER KNOW. So, just to be sure, I write an email to the office for international students to get the details and to know, if I should register to all universities, or only at one?
I get an answer 5 minutes later. Since it's sunday, I'm expecting an automated response saying that I should expect to receive an answer on monday the earliest, but NO, it's an automated email just referring mt back to the stupid website! ARGHH.
At this point I just start to cry and drag myself to my boyfriends computer, and OF COURSE, within 20 minutes he finds a link using google describing in detail the exam and explaining that when an international student is accepted, although they do have to pay the fees to pass the exam, they are AUTOMATICALLY signed up for the exam, and we receive at the same time the convocation and precise dates and adresses. Couldn't the letter from Assist just simply explain that? apparently not.
Service here is not the highest point. I have worked MANY different jobs incustomer service, in a department store as saleswoman, a gym as sales and customer service rep and assistant manager, and man, these people here are barely polite! It's like it would kill them to actually be nice or smile to a client. Sheesh!
With the universities it's the same, even worse. Although there are pratically no fees to study, (only semester ticket and student union fees, approx. 200 euros), it is SO HARD to get information. The website is not well structured, and of course completely in german, and whenever you try to contact one of the offices by email, either you get an automated response like I just did or you just never get an answer at all (happened to me many times). You can only call during certain hours, and I'm not talking 9 to 5, I'm talking like 8AM-9AM monday to wednesday!!! For me, in Canada and Virginia Beach, I mean, my poor boyfriend had to get up a 2AM to call the universities ( my german wasn't quite clear at 2 in the morning), and even then, calling during the open hours,we repeatedly did NOT get an answer, left messages, and did NOT get our calls returned.
Every tiny step of the way towards registering for the university is a totally new obstacle and so complicated. I'm so happy to have my bf here to help me, and I sincerely do not understand how other foreign applicants who don't know any german people manage.
So, now that i'm sure about how the test goes, I'm going to buy a preparatory book for the exam and study for the next month and a half/2 months... It looks pretty hard, but I am a quick learner, and when I really put my mind to it, I can achieve pretty much anything, so... here goes nothin'!