Alien police and bank accounts
Date: 31st January
Weather: clouds, snow expected, but not yet received.
Instead of enjoying a lie-in because the school children are on holiday and therefore my first class cancelled, I set my alarm for 7am in preparation to leave the flat at 8am: heading first to the post office, then to the foreigner’s police, then to open a bank account, then plan today’s classes, teach them and hopefully end up at a free concert in a book shop!
My flatmate and I set off at 8am this morning, armed with well- practised phrases, a handful of paperwork and some apprehension thrown in. Not forgetting of course tights under our trousers, a total of 5 cardigans, 3 scarves and 3 pairs of gloves between us. This is no mean feat, as the heating in our building is not controlled by us, so these layers can only be added just before departure. Failing to do so may end in passing out from the heat.
Our first stop was the post office to buy some “duty stamps”, needed to process the paperwork in task 2 of the day. We located it easily, quickly rehearsed what needed to say and pushed on in. We were first greeted by a man who said something like “blabla blab la blab la”, along with some gestures that seemed to indicate we were to go in front of him. We giggled over to the counter and I said Chcela by som Kolok prosim ( I want to buy ( a word that was written on my piece of paper from school) please) I assumed that she would know exactly what I wanted and give it to me in exchange for the €4,50 I had ready in my hand. I did not anticipate a question. It was obviously incoherent to us, so I started my well-rehearsed “Prepacte, nie hovorim po slovensky” (I’m sorry, I don’t speak Slovak) but she quickly interrupted me with another attempt, this time in German. In the past, assuming I was German would have offended me greatly, but it seems it’s what the Slovaks fall back on when they have no other option. To which my flatmate beamed and responded in German and thus the exchange was done, the stamps bought and we left, one of us feeling rather more smug than the other.
Following our directions, we got on the bus and headed a few stops away to another place in our wonderful housing estate. We found the blue building as instructed and after initially having some confusion over the location of a very un-obvious front door we entered the Police Office for Aliens. Yes, this is what is said. I have been referred to as an Alien before in other foreign situations, but it never ceases to amuse me. Sitting down, having printed my ticket, I started to peel off my layers and was about to get out three lesson’s worth of planning when the screen flashed my number. This took me somewhat by surprise, but this might be from 5 years in Spain, we had left ourselves a very generous three hours in which to complete the process and you may not be surprised to learn that we were out of the building within 15 minutes. I went through to the door as directed. And there were two stern and bored looking boys behind glass. Dobre Den! I breezed as I handed over my paperwork, only to be greeted with a to complete form and a gesture towards the pen on the desk. Friendly! I filled out the badly translated document, guessing in some parts as to what information they needed and was told ( well my flatmate next to me was, mr friendly seemed to assume I’d just listen to the instructions given to her) that I’d get a text message when my ID card was ready to be collected. Bye then!
It was a fairly unstressful operation and on the strength of it being 9am we decided to head to the bank and tackle that one too. In we went, churned out our other well practised “ Hovorite po anglicky?” (Do you speak English?) Her response was “a liddle”, and it really was. Between the two of us, her and her colleague we managed to establish that we both wished to open a personal account. I was then instructed towards her colleague, who showed no evidence of the “perfect English” we’d been told that they have in the banks here. With the help of google translate, the four of us managed to muddle through handing over various documents and addresses which we’d fortunately been carrying and an hour later we returned to sign contracts ( printed out in English) and other pieces of paper in Slovak before walking away having apparently just opened a bank account each. For all I know, I may have just signed my salary over to the bank clerk’s little brother!
That done and dusted we beamed into school and were to some extent disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm shown for our efforts and headed straight back out again for a well-deserved coffee and piece of cake!
It was in incredibly long day, lessons were planned and carried out, but the concert was not attended, sadly due to long events and draining of energy and 6.30am start tomorrow. Still, I can sleep well tonight knowing that I might have somewhere to pay my salary into and that in two weeks I will receive my offical Alien card!