An Adventure with Russian Bureaucracy

Posted: September 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

I know it may not seem like it, but I am in Russia to actually accomplish serious dissertation research. To get this underway, though, is far easier said than done. As I mentioned in my previous post, by the time I arrived at RGGU on Friday, I was too late to check in with the International Office, which closed before 4PM. This morning, I had to wait until 11:00AM for it to open. Then began my adventures in bureaucratic hell.

There was some event for freshman, which made it difficult to trek back and forth within the university courtyard.

There was some event for freshman, which made it difficult to trek back and forth within the university courtyard.

I had to officially register with the university, do some other paperwork for the archives, and hand in documents to get my registration with the Russian Federal Migration Service at the office this morning. I went to the office and began filling out the first round of documents for the university without a problem. The issue was that a few foreign students came in and out who did not speak Russian very well. The nice woman who works at the international office doesn’t really speak much English, so as I tried to fill out important information like what my address is, I had to act as an interpreter for a variety of students trying to register for Russian language proficiency exams.

The next bureaucratic hurdle was that all I could do initially was register at the university itself and procure my electronic pass that lets me into the dorm. I needed to talk to the visa/passport office, but it was 11:30 and they did not open until 12:30. In the meantime, I was told acquire a variety of passport and other sized photos for additional documents, though no one knew where I could get document photos taken. I also had to go to Sberbank with a sheet of paper to pay about $25 to start the process to turn my single-entry, 90-day visa into a multi-entry visa that’s good through July. The woman had to ask someone else across the hall where the bank was located, which was thankfully just down the street from my metro stop. In I went to the bank where I got a number and waited. I approached the desk and told the woman that I needed to pay for my multi-entry visa. She then entered my information into the computer, but said that the computer doesn’t have the USA in the system, so she filled in that I was Russian. Then, on the printed receipt, she crossed out Russia and wrote in USA. Apparently I wasn’t the first person to have this problem per se, she pulled out a sheet of paper with a whole list of different countries that the system didn’t recognize and added the USA to it.

On the way back from the bank I managed to find a photo place that specializes in ones for documents. That process was quick and relatively cheap, but was a different from CVS in that the woman assiduously applied photoshop to my document photos.

Getting the celebrity photoshop treatment?

Getting the celebrity photoshop treatment?

Armed with photos and a payment stub, I returned to the passport and visa office by 1:00. However, I had to wait around for about 15 minutes before the woman working there came back from some unknown location. Once again, some combination of how I look and speak led the woman working there to think I was German. I showed my passport, though in its Russian passport cover, and she pulled out a sheet of paper and told me to “write Germany here,” to which I replied that I was from the USA and she responded with, “whatever.” The form though, was to generate the multi-entry visa, which can take up to a month, meaning my passport is out of my possession for that time frame. Thus, I have to come back again later to do this process because I’m traveling to Ulyanovsk next week and cannot do that without a passport. Instead, they are simply doing my registration at the dorm, which I need to pick up on Friday, from 11-1 (hours of operation that are not listed on the office door at all). When I come back from Ulyanovsk, they will again re-register me at the dormitory in Moscow. I will then also begin the visa upgrade process.

Finally, I have to go back to the initial international office on Wednesday, sometime after 11:00! (this was stressed in an angry tone), to get my student ID and to generate a list of letters of support from the university for the archives. Which means the earliest I can get to an archive to start registering is probably Thursday. Clearly I was very distressed by this turn of events, so I went on an adventure to the Soviet video game museum, which will be chronicled in extreme detail in another post.

All of the games at the museum are playable.

All of the games at the museum are playable.

The highlight of the museum, though, was a chance encounter I had looking at a Soviet car magazine called Za Rulem. I casually was flipping through an issue from 1986 and had a minor freak out when I saw an article about the Mercedes W124 sedan and all of the advanced systems in it, such as ABS (which Za Rulem evidently wrote about in 1979 with regards to Daimler Benz inventing it and putting it on S-Classes), the automatic locking differential of the 4Matic four-wheel-drive system, and the complicated suspension system that debuted on the W201 Baby Benz in 1984 (the 190E). Shocked by the presence of this detailed technical examination of a western good in the Soviet automotive magazine, I asked the woman at the front desk if it would be possible to buy the issue from the museum. I figured the answer would be no, which it was, but that didn’t stop me from trying. She did, however, give me the name of a Russian version of Craigslist on which to create a post asking to buy that issue.

I could probably write an entire 300 page dissertation with this one page alone.

I could probably write an entire 300 page dissertation with this one page alone.

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Comments
  1. izmerlyleonid says:

    Здравствуйте Susan

    Я имею образование: техническое обслуживание и ремонт автомобилей; инженер технолог авиационные приборы и оборудование.

    Я могу помочь Вам в поиске технической информации из интернета.

    Например:

    1. Журнал “За Рулём”

    http://www.zr.ru/archive/zr/1986

    Архив За рулем 1986 год – zr.ru http://www.zr.ru Архив За рулем за 1986 год … Права и использование. Архив 4.0 © 1928 — 2013 «Зарулем».

    2. Руководство по сервисному обслуживанию http://automn.ru/mercedes-w124/ 3. ТЕХНИЧЕСКИЕ ХАРАКТЕРИСТИКИ MERCEDES BENZ Е-КЛАСС W124 1993 – 1995 СЕДАН Mercedes-Benz W124 | Руководство по сервисному … automn.ru W124 было внутренним обозначением для версии Mercedes-Benz E-класса с 1985 до 1995 гг. Модели W124 …

    4. Форум официального клуба Мерседес в России

    http://www.mbclub.ru/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=128 W124 – Форум официального клуба Мерседес в России … http://www.mbclub.ru 1986-1995 : 200td, 200ce, e200, 260e, 300e 2.6, 300e 2.8, 300e, e320, 400e, e420, 500e, e500, 300ce, e320, 300te, 300d 2.5 turbo, e300 diesel, 300td turbo, 300td …

    Леонид Измерли Новороссийск +7 918 0106287

    ________________________________ От: An American in Ulyanovsk Отправлено: 5 сентября 2016 г. 22:41 Кому: izmerly_leonid@hotmail.com Тема: [New post] An Adventure with Russian Bureaucracy

    grunewas posted: “I know it may not seem like it, but I am in Russia to actually accomplish serious dissertation research. To get this underway, though, is far easier said than done. As I mentioned in my previous post, by the time I arrived at RGGU on Friday, I was too lat”

  2. Georg says:

    They keep strange hours of operations ! Good thing for the games museum so you could decompress. And I love your car knowledge and delight at finding that Mercedes article. Hope the bureaucratic bullshit gets out of the way so you can begin your dissertation !

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