If you didn't pick up on it in the title, I'm going to call the posts relating to our move to Germany 'The German Chronicles'. Hope you like it. :)
Obviously, one of the first things you do when you go to a new country is to get a visa. Or not, depending on what country you're coming from. In South Africa specifically, the visa thing is required. It's also one of the most difficult countries to get a visa. Believe me.
We were forewarned that the German Embassy is very effective, but very strict. "If you have only one page missing, they turn you away," we were told. Before this, we had been to the English and French Embassies, so we had a little something to compare it to.
The English Embassy had been as we'd been told the German counterpart would be. Strict, but efficient. We had made about three or more copies of everything we needed, just to be sure we had everything. The specific person who helped us hadn't been friendly at all. In fact, this person had been almost rude. Luckily, we got our visas there the first time, even though many other people we know had to apply more than once. The French Embassy, on the other hand, was a breeze. The staff had been very friendly and helpful and the process of applying had proceeded simply and smoothly. Almost in a laid back manner, like the French themselves.
We were in a state of chaos before we went to the German Embassy in Pretoria. Jan had phoned them a million times before the actual appointments, just to make sure we had what we needed. The paperwork was always going to be tricky in itself, because we still don't have all of the documents we need for the visas. We're waiting on certain departments to process what we need. (Pray with me now that it'll be on time, please.) The added stress is due to the fact that these visas are different from the ones we applied for before. These are to stay and work in another country, not to vacation and return to SA.
To keep a long tale short, we were early for Jan's appointment. He had everything he needed, while we still needed some forms for myself and Kayla's application. Directly after Jan's appointment, we drove through Pretoria like crazy, running to get the things we needed. Then we returned to the Embassy so I could apply.
The lady who helped us (I didn't catch her name, unfortunately) was just incredible. She was like this calm and collected super-person, who helped us with a smile every step of the way. When we didn't have enough copies of something, she just smiled and made some more (after we were assured we would be told to leave if we didn't have something). When Kayla squealed in irritation due to teething and no sleep, the lady just smiled and tried to help me and Jan keep Kay calm. She was incredible. I hope we get to see her again when we collect the visas, so we can thank her again for how amazing she is. I wish everyone who worked in these places was like her. It would make the world a better place.
The whole process took about 20 minutes, which shows that the rumours of the German Embassy being effective was true. They do require a lot of forms and paperwork, sure, but no more than any of the other embassies need. I didn't experience the people there as overly strict either. Everyone, from the gate guard at the parking lot, to the people who told us which halls to take, to the fabulous lady at the end, were very friendly and helpful.
All in all, this experience made me just a little more excited for this new chapter in our lives. I seriously can't wait.