Fomenting Rebellion: Or how I started an uprising at the passport office and almost got thrown out of Norway on the day I received my residence permit
Timeline of events:
Monday, Aug 15:
I arrive at the Police Station early. Take a number from the queue machine. It’s called, and I go to the passport booth to be told that the special student day is Friday. Please come back in a week.
Friday, Aug 19:
8:30 My friends and I arrive at the police station half an hour before it opens. First ones there! We wonder why the queue machine isn’t working
9:00 We start getting antsy.
9:10 The waiting rooms are chockfull of angry students. The Iranians and Africans have crowded at the front (they may have more experience with bureaucracy than the rest of us), but won’t push past the office door.
9:20 I decide this is ridiculous, and requires a healthy amount of American obnoxiousness. I push through the crowd and through the door until I find the passport office. A woman sits behind the glass.
Dialogue between myself and Idiot Lady (IL for short):
Me: Excuse me, ma’am, but I was wondering when the office will open? We were told it
would open at nine.
IL: It’s open now.
Me: Oh. You don’t think you could have shared that with the hordes of students in your waiting room?
Me: Nobody announced it.
Me: And the ticket machine that issues queue numbers?
IL: That’s only for normal days. This is a student day.
Me: Ah. But, since there are so many people shoving and pushing outside, don’t you think you can start the ticket machine today?
IL: No, that’s just for normal days. This is a student day.
Me: So you have a special day actually designed for the discomfort of students?
IL: (blinks) Well, they’ll just have to wait in line and be disciplined
African student who sticks his head in: Can you ask her what to do if we have to leave because we have class at 10?
Me: Some of the students have class at 10. What should they do?
IL: But you’re here already. I can do your passport now. It will be done before 10.
Me: Yes, but the rest of the angry students don’t speak an English as excellently adapted for arguing with idiot ladies as me (no, I didn’t really say that). What should they do?
IL: They should come back Monday.
Me: Thank you. Excuse me one moment.
I walked out into the hallway, which magically quiets as I appear.
|Bergen Public Library. Went there after the |
Police Station to regroup.
“You have to wait in line, the ticket machine doesn’t work today. And there’s only one booth open. If you have class soon, just come back on Monday. So, I think you should all come into the Passport office now. And make a lot of noise.”
9:40: I walk out of the office with my residence permit and an arrangement to teach two Iranian women English. They were very impressed by mine.
Over the weekend, I went to a concert in Bergen center with a friend. It showcased a bunch of local Norwegian bands, all of whom sang English songs in excellent American accents. How disappointing. Hoping for some real Norwegian music soon.
Have been practically living at Gamlehausen, the king’s palace, the past few days. People keep walking down to the gardens there, and I can never say no to a pretty stroll. Different reactions: The French all sniff, “call that a castle?” The Danish inform me that the reason that it’s so new is because there haven’t been kings in Norway for that long; it was ruled by Denmark until recently. The Spanish don’t even look at it, they just head down to the lake to sunbathe.
|Even the manhole covers in Bergen are quaint|
I don’t at all believe the stereotype about shy Norwegians anymore. Nicolai, my clean-cut Norwegian next-door-neighbor, keeps knocking on my door; but then again, perhaps he has heard the stereotype about friendly Americans. Though he does retreat an adorable two paces after he knocks, and waits for me several meters down the hall as though I’m going to lunge out and eat him.
I was on the bybanen (light rail) today, and heard a family speaking Hebrew. Turns out they were on vacation from Haifa. Bet they were just as surprised to hear someone addressing them in Hebrew as I was to overhear it!
More planning meetings for the American literature seminars. Norwegian higher education is run very differently from the States. More on that later.