Where I’m At Part 2 – A Series of Vaguely Linear Thoughts on Life in Aachen

So it’s been a while.

The purpose of these 2 articles has ostensibly been to direct people who ask the inevitable “so what are you actually doing” question to something. I decree that an update is in order.

Last time I updated people on life, I was in the first two weeks of a Language Course that ran for another four weeks. I made friends with some fantastic people, and when the course came to an end and they trickled out, I was very sad to see them go. But it happens. We’ve kept in touch, and I’ve seen a few since.

What happened next was 80% my own fault, and mightily frustrating. I was planning on living in Brussels for three weeks with my then-girlfriend before heading down to Northern Spain through France to visit a friend. But my tourist visa was almost up, so I headed to the foreign office to get a Working Holiday Visa.


I mean, it’s not the worst place to be stuck in

Now keep in mind, last time I acquired a German residence permit, it took 2 days. YES, it took a whole lot of running between offices, but once I had the required documents and was sitting in the right office with an appointment, the process took half an hour and there was a 2-page visa in my passport. I figured the process wouldn’t be too much different.

Turns out that when you have lived in Germany, they have a file on you. It being the site of my student exchange, I had a file in Freiburg. They needed to get that file from Freiburg, combine it with the new documentation in Aachen, send it to Berlin, then send me a notice telling me to come and pick the permit up. I asked how long this would take.

“3-6 weeks.”

Turns out all this sending of files is not done electronically. They send actual physical files. Seems inefficient, but whatever.

“I’m going to Belgium next week, when…”

“No you’re not.”

They gave me an extension on my tourist visa to allow me to stay in Germany, but only in Germany. There’s no way around it, this was my fault. I might be good at organising things last-minute, but this is something that I should have sorted out a month beforehand. Regardless, plans for Belgium were on hold. Plans for Northen Spain were still a possibility. I was set to arrive in 5 and a half weeks. German efficiency will see me through, I thought. I booked flights.

8 weeks later, no visa. Freiburg still hadn’t sent the file. FREIBURG STILL HADN’T SENT THE FILE. So they gave me a 3-month visa to get me around Europe. This was on the 22nd of April.

I’d done a little in the meantime of course. Though not much in March. In late February I was faced with the issue of having no house in Aachen, yet no option to move to Brussels and a desire to stay as close as possible to the Belgian border. I asked a friend who I’d met very recently if he knew anyone who needed a Zwischenmieter (someone who lives at your house and pays rent whilst the normal resident is on holidays/on an internship), and he sprung into action, finding me accommodation within an hour. It was only for a week, but I’d already found another house for the rest of my stay in Aachen, which would have to last the full 6-week sentence, all of March and some of April.

I was lucky enough to meet some great people. Lukas, who I lived with for a week, eventually invited me to his farm in Kevalaer for an epic Easter Fire. I took a trip to the Drei-Länder-Eck (meeting point of the Dutch, German and Belgian borders), which was lovely. And I got to tag along on a private tour of the Cathedral in Aachen (again, thanks to Lukas). There were some cool things that came out of that month.

Quick stroll into Holland

Quick stroll into Holland

But it was boring. March was boring. My friends from the Language Course were gone, my friends in Aachen had exams, the relationship became stressful for both parties. I worked though, got some savings, swam a lot, became a movie geek and cooked plenty. Not wasted I guess, but boring. I said during the Language Course more than once that I wished I could stay in Aachen another month. Well, I got my wish.

But don’t worry, after April 7th things got better. So, so much better.

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