Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 1 XMU - Registration

The first day of XMU, began at 8:30am on the 17th Sept. XMU has designated two days to register, one due to the demand of the foreign students, and the other because 75% of us forgot one thing or another, so we must come back to complete the process. Assuming you have everything, it should take about 4 -6 hours. If not, you have to come back later or the next day and have the pleasure of standing in line all over again. Patience, my friends, patience.

Okay from the beginning, it starts with the front people asking for your invitation, and of course I don’t have one since I was late in registering for the semester. I show them my version of acceptance via email and they give you another application form to fill out. Once completed you proceed with step 2. Here is where you pay your tuition if you haven'd done so already. I have already completed that process, so I move to step 3. So far so good, but as we all have come to know, that, was the easy part. This is where you have to have some patience. This step took approximately 2 hours, with many people complaining about the heat. There are no air conditioners while we were waiting in line, and the temperature was 36 degrees Celsius. Surprisingly, I was okay with this heat. I had the opportunity to meet a young gal from Milan who had been studying Chinese for the past three years. We started chatting which makes the time go by much more quickly. She speaks 5 languages including her own and next thing you know we are exchanging phone numbers. This portion of the process is where where you are greeted by the school administrators, who want to see your passport, visa, tuition fee, and invitation letter. Okay, so out of 4 things that was required, I have one, the tuition fee. Our passport along with our visa is now sitting at the Vietnamese consulate. I explain where the passport and visa are, and show them the copy of my what I have, my passport. I also show them the email from the school administrator, which they seem to be okay with. Okay, so step 4 is taking your picture, which was easy enough, and a relatively small line. I assumed the picture was taken for the student I.D. Step 5 was to go to another area to present the medical certificate for the physical which you needed to present to go to school. Again, according to the school, I didn’t need to have this certificate. Now I have to try convincing the person who was handling this part of the process. Not so easy. He simply wasn’t buying it. After a few minutes of discussion, he decides I should talk to someone else. I go through the entire story yet again, and she agrees that I do not need to have the medical certificate. Onward and upward to step 6. Here the line looks short, but it took over 2 hours, mainly due to students not having the necessary documents. You also have to pay for medical insurance in this line, which created more confusion for the students. They give you the welcome packet, student I.D, and a booklet with your picture on it. I have been in line for about 10 minutes, where I meet two guys, one from Quebec and one from Chicago. I now have three friends in a little more than 4 hours or is it 5? Who’s counting at this point? As we were patiently in line, my friend from Quebec finds out that he needs 4 pictures. He was unaware of this, as we all were, so the three of us chimed in at the same time explaining that we were only advised to bring one picture of us. Oh no she says, you need four. What about the picture that they just took? Nope, we don’t use that one. So much for the student I.D. photo I thought they were taking. At this point, I think she was too tired to ensure that the right procedures were in place so she stamped our booklets, as only the Chinese know how to do, and told us to come back with the photos. Okay, the last step was to take have a simple interview. This part was fairly quick. This one talks to you in Chinese so that she can determine what classes to place you in. That's a no brainer. After that, she advises you to come back on Friday to find out about classes and times.

So that part was over, we just have to do a couple more things and we are done. With my new friends in toe, we head out to get pictures and then lunch. By this time we are hitting the 2pm mark. After lunch we went back to present our photos and of course wait in line. Then we went to the area where you pay for tuition to get your invoice for payment of the classes. We had to wait since the bank wasn’t opened yet. They take long lunches here in China. Here I met yet another ex-pat from the States. She was here with her husband and also quit her job since she is also here for 2 years and needed something to occupy her time. I come to find out she lives in our apartment complex. After this process, I needed to go to the OEC building to get my invitation, and apparently paperwork for my X visa. My new friend from Chicago, and I, head out, as he too needs a letter from the school accepting him into the course. We go to the building only to get redirected to the place we just came from. Back we go, and find the person that we need, who then informs me, that I’m good with my documentation. Apparently I don’t need an X visa.

Oh the fun of China!

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