Three months ago, I was hunched over a computer in the library in Juneau, Alaska, trying to fill out a form for my visa to get to China. My personal computer couldn’t connect to the printers on the cruise ship, the library didn’t have the necessary software to write on a form with Chinese characters on it, you couldn’t save the PDF and transfer it to another computer that was attached to a printer – nothing was working. And it was pull-your-hair-out aggravating.
We were on a two week long vacation in Alaska and at every port town, we would march down to try to get the visa paperwork sorted out as I needed to get this done. By the time we had spent three hours in the Juneau library, I was convinced that while I had received a job offer in China, I would not be going because of this one stupid form. Finally, after many hours and many different public libraries, internet cafes, and wifi hotspots in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, we had the hot off the press form in hand. Then we had to find a FedEx store in Anchorage as I had bought a shipping slip online for my visa processing forms. None. Did we find one in the middle of a national park surrounded by grizzlies two days later? Yep. Did we see one in the little town where all the houses were made of wood sticks from the trees near by? Naturally. But in Anchorage – no can do. Finally, I sucked it up and paid extra shipping at a UPS office and the paperwork for the visa was on its way to the visa processing office.
Turns out after all that hassle that a former visa I had was still valid and that I hadn’t even needed to apply for another one. The visa was supposed to come back on a day that I was home by myself and supremely ill. I rolled down the stairs and parked myself in front of the door waiting for the UPS man to arrive. I had to lie on my side and not move my head otherwise I would upchuck in the most repulsive of fashions. The UPS man did not arrive that day but I got to know the welcome mat right by my front door super well that morning as I lay there unable to move, waiting for the doorbell to ring.
Everything eventually got sorted out and I was on my way to Chinaland. Once here, the forms didn’t stop. Health check where I had to march around in a dainty little robe in front of my brand spanking new colleagues and boss with nothing on underneath it? Awesome.
Then a visit to the police station to get a residence permit? Yes please, sign me up. And how about that form to claim we are “Foreign Experts”? Sure, China, here is my birthdate, social security number, passport, address, emergency contacts, and 39583 passport size pictures for you. Thank GOD I was conveniently carrying around 39584 of passport size pictures of myself – you just NEVER KNOW when those might come in handy.
However, after dealing with the joys of paperwork to become a legal working resident here in China for the upcoming year for the last three months, the happy day finally arrived yesterday when I walked into HR and they handed me two pretty little navy blue books and said, “You’re all set, Charlotte. No more paperwork.”
So friends, it is with great happiness and joy that I write to let you all know that I am now legal here in China. Fingers crossed I don’t drop my passport in a puddle or lose it on a trip and have to start all over again. Knock on wood.