Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Our reward for putting up with bureaucracy

I've never been able to figure out if the United States really doesn't have as much ridiculous bureaucracy as other countries we've lived or if it's just that I've never had to experience the worst of it since I am a US citizen. I mean, the DMV is generally a nightmare and figuring out tax forms can be entertaining sometimes, but otherwise it doesn't seem to be nearly as bad as it could be.

Bureaucracy is on my mind lately because we've been mucking through it for months before we even arrived here. To even be allowed to enter the country (as a potential employed resident, not a tourist), we had to submit 12 passport photos (each) (including our tiny children), various forms that asked seemingly irrelevant questions like where Jeremy's dad works or what his mother's maiden name is, medical records, and authenticated copies of multiple documents.

That last task was the kicker. First I had to request (and pay for) an official copy of Jeremy's PhD diploma, our marriage certificate, and the birth certificates of each of our kids. Then I had to send each of those to the appropriate Secretary of State (spanning Arizona, Oregon, and Vermont) to be further authenticated. THEN I had to send them to the US Department of State for the same. Finally, they were all routed off to the UAE Embassy in DC. Basically we had to throw money at everyone until they signed our documents and returned them to us so we could prove to the UAE that we were a) educated, b) married, and c) in possession of duly US-born children. Good thing we were in Egypt during this whole process so my mom got to do all that, following my meticulously worded instructional emails!

Upon arrival, we had to submit our passports (and get a blood test, and fill out a form, and turn in some more passport photos...) to apply for a residence visa. But even that wasn't as simple as it sounds. Because the way they do it here is that Jeremy's visa is sponsored by the university. The girls and I are sponsored by Jeremy. Yes, it's true, it is only by his gracious support that Miriam and Magdalena and I are allowed to reside here. So of course we had to wait for all his paperwork to come through. Ours arrived today, hallelujah.

Then there was a driver's license to acquire (still more passport photos and forms), university ID card (even more passport photos - this is in addition to the 12 required up front, mind you), medical insurance account (blood test required but no passport photos), mobile phone SIM cards, a bank account to open, and, most recently, all the hud you have to deal with to buy, insure, and register a car here. Guess what? That process required a passport photo, too!

I have to admit that now that the aforementioned car is sitting in our driveway, this whole bureaucracy thing seems a lot less irritating. I feel like we finally have something to show for running around to different offices and submitting reams of paperwork for the last few months. And isn't it a beautiful thing?

It's a Toyota Rav4. I think it and I will get along nicely even though I don't consider myself an SUV person. Perhaps that's because I don't really consider it an SUV. We finally got to take it home last night. Sometimes bureaucracy can be worth it.

Don't tell the feminists.

One of the weirdest things I've seen in the Middle East