Seventeen months after we started the process of getting our residency in Denmark, we did it. We’re legal residents! Of course, due to his employment, Don was approved right away, but for this one, Denmark wanted to take a good long look. And so they did. Now that I’ve been rubber-stamped for approval, here is are some things that I can NOW do/have/be that I couldn't before:
• open a bank account
• have my name on our mailbox (no more “c/o”!)
• rent a movie at Blockbuster
• borrow books from the library
• have a real cell phone (not just buying minutes at ridiculous rates)
• attend any Danish university, tuition-free (including graduate programs)
• see a doctor, fee-free
• travel in and out of Denmark (and the EU) without fear of being denied re-entry
• take state-sponsored Danish language courses (almost free)
• GET A DANISH DRIVERS’ LICENSE
This past Monday, I went to the police station to apply for something called a re-entry permit (at the suggestion of the immigration ministry). On Wednesday, Don and I went back to collect our passports with our new Schengen visas, allowing us to come back into Denmark even though we’ve overstayed our time here because the Danish government was still ruling on our cases. Thursday morning, Don calls Immigration for what seems like the 45,000th time: We’ve been approved! In fact, our letters should be in our mailbox today! Yay!
Here’s where it gets hairy: I got my letter that day around 1:00pm; Don’s is nowhere to be seen (even though I’m connected to him legally). I phone him, we agree to meet at the police station to get things sorted out. At the police station (where we’re kind of regulars now), they congratulate us and tell us that their sticker machine isn’t working, so we need to go to Aabenraa, a neighboring town about 25 miles away. And they close in two hours. And they’re not open on Fridays. And this MUST be done within two weeks. And I’m leaving on Saturday to be in the states for three weeks. “It is a very short drive.” “We have bicycles.” “Oh. No car?” “No, no car. (Are you not reading my blog? The post office ladies are.)” “Well, you must go today. See you!”
So Don, the fastest phone dialer and most resourceful person I’ve ever met, finagles us a car, but this means I can’t get home afterward, so I’m off to the opera that night! But first, I need my CPR (Danish residency) number. Off to city hall (on bicycles). Tick tock. We wait in line, fill out a form, show them the all-important letter from the government, wave my passport around. “You are married?” “Yes, we are married.” “I see. I need to see a certified copy of your marriage license.” So, Don hops on his bike, pedals like there’s no tomorrow, somehow finds the certificate, pedals back. More stamps, signatures and directions. I have my CPR number!!! I’m REAL!!!
We bike home to meet the generous soul who is lending us his car, drop him off at his house and buzz out to Aabenraa. We have just under and hour. It’s raining. It’s rush hour. Somehow, Don did not pull the steering wheel out of the column, but I’m pretty sure there’s some major timpani banging at full volume in his poor head.
We make it! Clearly our car is magnetized to inchy tractors in the roadway, but we make it! The irony of screaming into a police station in frenzied haste was not entirely wasted on us. But we made it! And the police officers are always SO jolly and SO thrilled that we try to stumble through this all in Danish. “Yes, yes, I see you here in my computer. I have a sticker for you.” THE MAGIC STICKER!!! I’M GOING TO GET A MAGIC STICKER!!! THE ONE WITH RAINBOWS AND SHINY LINES AND BEAUTIFUL STARBURSTS THAT I’VE BEEN SALIVATING FOR FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS!!!! THE STICKER OF MY DREAMS!!!
Stamp, stamp, sign, sign, peel, WHAM. That gorgeous WHAM that means that this thing was NOT coming out of there, no peeling, no ripping, no nothing, IT IS STUCK IN THERE GOOD.
We were practically panting from all the adrenalin. Then we celebrated with pizza. And it was heavenly...