bureaucracy woes & overcoming hurdles

as i walked to the financial office one morning last month, i swung alex’s fancy umbrella with the wooden handle around like an extra in ‘singing in the rain’, feeling like a baller.

ohhh yeah, they’re totally going to know exactly what i want. that i mean biznis, especially when they see me with this!

we get there, ride on up to the security guy at the front desk (vratnice) all like “yo – we’re here looking for mrs. piksova.”

him: “so, how do you spell that? like pixsova? or piksova with a k?”

us: “errrrrrrr………….”

him: “OH, you’re foreigners. what are your names?”

me: “cynthia & alex.”

him: nonplussed, picks up the phone and calls ahead upstairs. (in czech) “you have foreigners”.
i suppress a giggle.

feeling like cool cats, we make our way past the security guard and up the elevator. after knocking on the door (because you ALWAYS must knock on pretty much every door first when you’re in a czech office)

me: (in czech) “hey. so, i’m cynthia, this is alex…. we, uh……. we would like our papers.”

mrs. piksova: “wait, so…. what?! who did you say you were? what do you need? do you have an SMS confirmation from me?”

me: “um. we need…. the thing. you know…. the thing?”

a quick call to alex’s manager later and mrs. piksova turned over a new leaf, smiling, suddenly even speaking to us in english (????).

basically the moral here is that fancy umbrellas make you overconfident and i think i’m going to study my czech textbook extra hard this week.

this is just a funny anecdote that happened sometime last month. it’s a nice light-hearted thing to share in this month that has been full of visa stress. normally our visas would already have been taken care of before the end of winter, but there have been a series of setbacks… first one that wasn’t too major. then. we were hit by a total truth-bomb that we had unknowingly violated a law that went into effect two years ago regarding health insurance. while that has now been fully and easily rectified in terms of what it means for our visa renewal and remaining here, this ignorance of the rule will probably and regrettably have long-lasting financial repercussions for us for as long as we decide to remain in the czech republic. it is so incredibly frustrating to know that you could’ve done something this whole time but just didn’t have the information.

it resulted in many super stressed evenings, crowd-sourcing from other expats for any possible clarity. (something which is not easy to find when dealing with bureaucracy over here, anyone would tell you!) last weekend, i officially went “offline” with everything regarding visa and insurance stress and it did so much good. 

my first inclination is to solve this problem as quickly as possible as i can take pretty much nothing “lying down”, but now i see it will be a long-term thing with not too much we can do now.

starting now and going forward, i’ll have to re-evaluate how we do things a little bit. how, when, and where we travel. what we spend our money on and how we make it. there will be a painful adjustment period for sure, but i am confident we can bounce back from this “situation”. (definitely going to be religiously following my tips in one of my favorite posts, how i travel on a teacher’s budget)

sometimes i look at how far we’ve come… and what we’ve already overcome. to live abroad in europe as an american when nobody is sponsoring you but yourself is no easy business. even doing this at all seemed against many odds, and look at us – over five years here… and thriving, i would typically say. i’m determined not to let this setback stymie my optimistic spirit.

in fact, just the other day (as maybe you saw on stories), i was beyond myself with pride for… for the first time having walked into the freelance license office and renew my license… in czech language… with no translator or help. this felt like a huge milestone to me. these milestones sometimes appear small, but they are so big because we have all come so far.

i’ve made it a point to celebrate these successes when i notice them.

so please, tell me a success of yours that you have overcome lately that you wouldn’t think possible a few years ago! or, have you ever had visa or bureaucracy issues in another country? sometimes it’s almost enough to want to swear off living in another country… but not quite.