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Friday, February 3, 2012

Die Siedler von Catan

We picked up my Aufenthaltstitel yesterday evening.  This card isn't exactly useful for anything because I had all of the "functions" turned off. It is pretty much just physical proof that I am allowed to come and go in this country until it expires. I have to remember to bring this card with me when we leave to go to the US and when we come back to Germany in March. If I forget it, they may not let me back into Germany. I was going to post a picture of the card, but even after I put pieces of paper over my name and signature, I realized after putting the picture in my blog draft that they have a hidden text that holds your name under a flash. It just wasn't worth the effort to cover everything and risk the minute possibility of someone trying to steal my identity. 

Instead, here are pictures of what I have, just without my information. 

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This is a picture of the stickers they put in my passport as my temporary Aufenthaltstitel. It takes up 2 pages. While we were waiting for Herr Elseberg to finish up my paperwork yesterday, I realized that I only have 4 pages left in my passport. That is essentially 8 trips. That may not sound like much, but if Felix and I make 3-4 trips a year the way we have planned for this year, I will have to get a new passport before its expiration date. And that is just trips to visit the US. If we take long weekend trips by plane outside of Germany as well, I will need a new passport even sooner. To be fair, the Aufenthaltstitel took up 2 pages and my visa for Indonesia took up a page. I was a little baffled because I am pretty sure that before I met Felix, I never would have thought I would fill up a passport, let alone need a second one. I'm only 25. I still have decades of travel left in me. Felix has brought a lot of enrichment and joy to my life in many ways, but some of the big ways have been exposing me to travel, different cultures, and helping me to embrace being outside of my comfort zone.

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This is a picture of the actual card given to all Ausländer (foreigners) who qualify for an Aufenthaltstitel. It has your full name, city of birth, expiration date, signature, birthdate, country of origin, height, sex, eye color, and address somewhere on the front or back. The most interesting part of the residence permit card is on the back. There is a horizontal holographic oval that shows your picture and the expiration date depending on which way you are looking at the card. It's about .5 inches wide and 1 inch long. Pretty tiny for a picture of your face. 

If you read my last post first, then you know that language school is finally paying off big time (!), but I didn't mention the other way I am appreciating language school: the structure it provides to my week. Before I began school, every day was "the weekend" to me. My days didn't have any structure and I never knew what date it was because that information didn't pertain to my life. I love that I have somewhere to be during the week. I appreciate my weekends now. They feel special and "earned" instead of mundane. 

It's been a good week. Besides learning the key to the German language, Felix and I did pretty well with our cooking. Last night we made a sort of date night out of our evening. 

We picked up my Aufenthaltstitel after Felix was done working and had to go directly to his physio appointment. I took his phone and his money and walked down to the grocery store about a quarter of a mile down the road to pick up veggies for dinner. I walked back to the physio office and we hurried home to get out of the arctic winds. Together we made rice and steamed veggies (peas, broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, and potatoes) with Helle Soße (light sauce). We ate at the table (which happens frequently, but not every night) and shared a bottle of wine. After dinner, we played a game of Die Siedler of Catan (The settler of Catan). It is a game Felix played when he was younger, but it was completely new to me.