Friday, September 5, 2014

Mistaken for an illegal immigrant

It's Friday, 9 am Munich time and the phone rings. It's the police... They have been informed by the city of Munich that I was residing here illegally and we have to be at the police station in 2 hours.

Here's what happened, my girlfriend and I were visiting friends and family in Canada for a few weeks and then returned to a bunch of mail, including a letter from the city of Munich stating that I was residing in the country as an illegal immigrant. I was surprised by the fact that I was even able to get "IN" the country. If this was an actual fact, I imagine the border/passport control would've stopped me.

In due course, I mail them a copy of my passport and visa, issued by the Federal Republic of Germany, expecting this issue to be resolved. Not more than a week later I get a copy of that same letter in the mail, thinking this might be an automated system it's possible they didn't sort through the pile and found my innocence plea.

And that's how we get to the Friday 9 am phone call, merely 2 days after that letter was sent for the second time, they had already sent the same letter to the police station. The officer in charge of my file was very calm and sympathetic to my cause. He offered his contact information after verifying my legitimacy and told me to refer any further inquiry on my status to him. He proceeded to explain to us how the city of Munich has a central database and they should have access to my visa information but, you know, sometimes... what can you do?

What should've happened was when I signed up for my residency permit for the city of Munich, they should've asked me how long I planned on staying or if I had a certain type of work or travel visa and then put that information in the system. Or take a minute and look in their system before sending off this chain mail of accusations.

After more than 6 months in the country, what happened for them to suddenly notice that I had become an illegal immigrant? A tourist visa is 90 days, so after 3 months I would've expected a notice but it's been more than 180 days and they expect you to resolve this in a matter of days! After several ins and outs from Germany to top it off and I have never been questioned about my visa or multiple entries or residency issues whatsoever.

I thought that going through the trouble of getting the visa before-hand was already enough that you wouldn't have to prove again and again that you're a legit immigrant. There also has to be a better way than sending scary letters telling people that their status is illegal, a little tact would've been much appreciated. So from this point of view whether it's Canadian bureaucracy or German bureaucracy, systems will have flaws.

To most of you, Germany is known for their work ethics and efficiency. I have yet to see this.

This and Neuschwanstein.

For Canadians looking for visa info for Germany this site is very useful: 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Germany vs Brazil

When they announced that Neymar and Silva were not going to be playing against Germany, I immediately took Monday the 14th off. Everyone around the world expected a "good game" and if you're German it was definitely something! After 4 goals we started getting congratulation messages from friends and family but also got a load of memes, funny videos and surprising pics. Here's a few:


The timing of this video is priceless!

And of course I saved the best for last, this one goes out to my "Canadiens" friends... when you see it.

A few stats for you:

Thomas Mueller Becomes 2nd Player to Score 5 Goals at Consecutive World Cups

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spare change?

Coming from North America, I'm used to putting every single thing on my credit card, gotta get some points! A 2$ cup of coffee a 90 cents pack of gum, plastic is the way to go. In Germany they have a saying "cash is king", the only place they ask you if you want to pay with a card (bank/debit card) is at the grocery store. They even have those preloaded visa cards where you have to put money on it before you can spend that money which is a little weird to me. Debt is not something the Germans are interested in, it seems to be working for them.

I can't get used to paying with cash, I made baby steps and now I always have some bills in my wallet in case I need to buy something on the go but I still haven't been able to get used to spending the change. My wallet, for one, won't let me fit all these coins in it... what should a man do, go back to wearing a fanny pack?

Not only do I have a problem with change but here they have this system where you pay a deposit for your mug/glass and they give you a token. Bring the glass and the token back and you get your deposit, clearly I didn't grasp that concept and now I'm stuck with some lovely fluorescent tokens from different biergartens or clubs.

I also learned that by law you can purchase an item with up to 50 coins and the cashier has to accept the payment... time to go buy myself a beer or two.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This won’t fit in the status update box...

My 6 month internship is coming to an end in July and the next part of my first year in Munich is about to get a spin. For those who follow me on BeerFeed you’re aware of my mini trips to Bamberg and most recently Köln. We have a long weekend in Amsterdam just before we head home to Canada for a few weeks. The good thing about working in Germany is definitely the amount of holidays you get.

Morale is up and I don’t really feel homesick, I miss the casual hangouts with good friends and I used to miss hoppy beers but I recently found some niche stores that have more hops than I can dream of. I’m slowly getting used to the daily life and it’s not so different than the life in Canada. I got to meet some really nice people from around the world (mostly Europe), my geography is getting slightly better and so is my Deutsch.

I’m signing up for some intensive Deutsch courses over the months of September and October. After several comments about how difficult it is to work full-time and then go to class for 3 hours in the evening to learn a new language, I decided it was in my best interest to take morning classes and focus on learning Deutsch without any other distractions for two months.

So far, I was offered to be on a television show, I've made some friends from the four corners of the planet, I've traveled to 2 countries I've never been before and I learned a whole lot about beer. Until my next status update I welcome your questions and comments.

Ambassador Mat