Monday, September 29, 2008

Home exchange: hamburger falls into the fire

It is not easy to get a visa to stay in Europe for longer than 3 months, regardless of where you go. In order for us to get German visas, we would need to fill out a million papers in a certain color ink and get a letter from our bank stating we have enough money to sustain us without getting jobs. We would have to show that we had purchased plane tickets home (which struck me as funny for some reason). We needed to make an appointment to bring this big stack of papers, along with a letter from our exchange partners proving we had a place to stay, to the German consulate in person. The consulate is 6 hours away. So when I got the email from the German family that they needed an interview in Berlin to get a visa, I felt lucky. They, however, felt unwilling to go to such lengths, and wanted to reduce the exchange to under 90 days so they wouldn't need visas. No problem, let's make it 11 weeks. Cool, they said, stand by for the plan. Well, the plan, as it turned out, was a big fat cancellation. We have heard stories about people getting their laptops confiscated at US customs, we don't want to take that risk, and it is so complicated to get a visa, we are so sorry but we've decided to exchange somewhere in Europe. What?! Um, didn't we already have an agreement that we were just waiting to finalize with specific dates? Moreover, didn't they look into any of these details before spending 2 weeks of their life talking with us about a specific exchange??? Very uncool. I wasn't looking forward to breaking the bad news to the kids.

image: Chick-fil-A

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