Wednesday, December 07, 2011

My quest is almost over

For almost a year now, I've been attempting to capture that most elusive prey, the Certificate of Degree Equivalency from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Abu Dhabi. Basically, I need the UAE to recognize that I came by my BA honestly, and certify said fact to the American University of Sharjah, so I can continue to study for my master's degree. AUS has kindly granted two or three extensions for me to keep working on the process, because like I said, it's taken me almost a year. SO FAR - I'm not even done.

Anyway, this post is not about that whole process. If you're relieved to hear that, sorry, because a post about that whole process is coming, soon. Today, I'm going to tell you about an unexpected hiccup in the process, a mere blip on the radar of the hunt for the Certificate of Degree Equivalency, a single morning in the year of my quest.

The Ministry of Higher Education in Abu Dhabi said that there was an additional, unexpected hoop for me to jump through, and that was a visit to the bowels of the Sharjah Directorate of Naturalisation and Residency. Why? Well, to prove that this is my first period of residency in the UAE, of course! I'm sure it's really obvious why I would need that information in order to get a master's degree here, so I won't even bother explaining. Ahem.

So I got myself down to the SDNR (which was positively bustling with people) and walked into probably five separate buildings within the compound before finding someone who did NOT send me somewhere else. Actually, I take that back - the place where I ended up getting help actually did try to send me somewhere else, but I had already been there, so. Maybe that's how you lose the game. In any case, I finally had an employee who was going to help me. He walked me over to a different building and talked with a whole bunch of people and then sat near (not with) me while the process continued. I really felt taken care of, like I had an advocate for my cause, except maybe he just really didn't want to go back to his office. In any case, it was nice.

But then that office sent me somewhere else, and my minder had to leave. I was on my own again, until I was again taken under an employee's wing in that new building. It was the same deal - he walked with me everywhere, he carried my paperwork, he did all the talking, and he explained the process to me (well, the "what," not the "why"). The only thing he didn't explain was why four military men (with blue uniforms adorned by epaulets and stars and patches) had to spend a good ten minutes discussing my situation.

My favorite part of the whole morning was when I was finally getting the papers I needed and the three ladies behind the desk asked me how I did my hair. I undid it to show them and they were fascinated with the spin pins I was using to secure it:
Then they asked me to turn around and re-style my hair so they could see how I did it. They literally gasped when it was done. Then they had me take the pins out again so one of them could take a picture of them. I offered - genuinely - to just give them to her, but she said she had friends in the US who could get some for her.

The paperwork that I needed is as done as I could get it. My minder left it on the director's desk for him to fax to Abu Dhabi, and I was dismissed. I have to say, as annoying as it was to spend an entire morning at the SDNR, and even if the process was slow and unclear, the people were all really nice. Anytime I had to walk to a different building with my minders, our progress was hindered by all the hellos they had to say to friends and coworkers. And you can't just say "hi" and keep walking - you have to pause and grasp hands, or pause and kiss cheeks, or pause and ask after their health.

Plus, I got to spend a long time in this waiting room:

Does your local immigration office have a gramophone and a stuffed falcon on display? I submit that it does not. The end.


Liz Johnson said...

What on EARTH do you do with those spin pins?! They look like they're corkscrews... meant to give you some bizarre form of a lobotomy.

Also... the falcon? There are no words.

Katie said...

Haha. Bummer about the long process and everything, but the waiting room is great.

Katie said...

P.S. I am also curious about the spin pins.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

It's a thrill to know that you are past the point where I will be compelled to beg another diploma and transcript from a high school that graduated you in 1999. And then have said documents notarized, and ask the school to write a separate letter stating the docs are authentic. Oops, this is probably your next post.

Am guessing our immigration offices use the DMV style of decor.

Bridget said...

Here's a video that explains the pins. I LOVE these pins, by the way.

Matthew said...

I love this post so very, very much.

Mara Kofoed said...

I TOTALLY LOVE THOSE PINS!!!! Use them all the time. What a find they were. :) And thx for linking to our blog. So fun. :)


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