For those of you living in the States, if you thought the Department of Motor Vehicles was the least happy place on earth, let me introduce you to Hungary’s Office of Immigration and Nationality. The place where smiles go to die.
Early on, I had to go to the Office of Immigration and Nationality for my residence permit. My first appointment was August 22, and I worked with my organization’s human resources (HR) office to prepare all the paperwork. My organization usually gets employees appointments with the VIP section of Immigration, but the schedule was so packed, I had to go to the regular section. At least I had an appointment; that saved me from a much longer wait.
The office was already packed when I arrived for my 9:00 am appointment. When I was finally called (later than 9:00 am, of course), the Immigration officer wanted items never before requested—at least that was the HR officer’s assessment when I returned to the office.
I thought I’d have to return within the week with the follow up documents, but fortunately someone from the HR office could go. I only had to be there in person for the initial meeting and then to pick up my permit.
I finally received my residence permit on September 12. That might not sound like a long time to wait, especially for government, but the residence permit is the key to everything, including getting paid, obtaining health insurance, and receiving approval for customs to process your shipped items.
You may (or may not) remember that I arrived in Budapest on August 10. Had I known that I would have to wait almost six weeks to receive my shipped items, I may have packed a little differently. Not to mention it became unseasonably cold in September—so cold, that it was in the 40s (Fahrenheit) some mornings. All my blankets, cold weather clothes and shoes, and coats were being shipped. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was the day everything arrived. In fact, everything arrived during the week and a half of pure pleasure, which probably heightened the experiences for me.
So, not everything has gone or continues to go smoothly. Twice now I’ve been without heat for days. And let’s just say that the customer service here, particularly from my rental agency, is reminiscent of Soviet days. But life isn’t a smooth ride in general, and many more people have so much less, so I focus on the positive. And my heat is working now, so that’s a positive! (Especially since it might actually snow here next week.)
And for those of you who didn’t see it, Budapest tied for second on the 2013 edition of Condé Nast’s Readers’ Choice Awards. There’s a lot of positive to focus on!