First off, I started this process by interviewing my friend E. about what needed to be done, so that I could be prepared, and not need to go through any needless steps.

Per his instructions, when I went to register about a month ago I found the office of the overseas students (Rothberg), they told me I needed to get a transcript (fax OK) and to download the such-and-such form from the website, to come back and I’d be good to go.

Transcript obtained by late-night phone call and follow-up email to registrar at home school, faxed to a friend’s office. Downloaded form from internet, printed up. Form instructs me that I need letters of reccomendation and a medical exam. Oy, do I really? I try calling the university in order to check this, get transferred around (5ish phonecalls later) to someone named Orit, who tells me that I have the wrong form and I need to go see her, she’s the one through whom this all happens. In a different office.

Twoish weeks ago, I steel my courage and go see Orit. Orit gives me the form, tells me I need 2 passport photos, to pay the 340 NIS (shekel) fee payable at the post office (what E. refers to as the “freyer fee”, aka the sucker fee), and to take the Hebrew exam back at Rothberg, and that the fax transcript isn’t good enough, they need an official copy, obtainable only through regular mail.

So I head back to Rothberg, and before going to the Hebrew exam I pop into the office where I was the first time and tell them that I have two conflicting versions of how to register–theirs and Orit’s. They say, Oh, no, save yourself the trouble, you can just do it through us. You just need two passport photos, this other form, and to pay THEIR 280 NIS fee upstairs at Noga’s office. And no Hebrew exam. I go upstairs to confirm with Noga, then go off ot the student center to get the photos and to xerox copies of the transcript and all these forms (I may be stupid but I’m not dumb). I come back, pay Noga the 280 NIS, and then go back down to the Rothberg office, cheery that that didn’t take so long. I sit there as the woman begins to enter my info into the computer, at which point the guy thinks to make a phone call double-checking my status there. As it turns out, I can’t register for regular university courses as a Rothberg student. Guy is very apologetic, but I am now back to another square. I go back up to Noga to get my money back.

I go to the Hebrew office to take the placement test. They send me to the library. I sit in the library for an hour. Slowly, the test starts to get harder, and it’s 2pm and I haven’t eaten and everything’s blurry. I know that my Hebrew’s better than the level you need to clear to take classes at the University, so a little tired, a lot hungry, and a bit arrogant, I give up when the questions start to really be work, towards the end of the exam. I go back to Hebrew Lady, and she tells me that I had placed higher than the necessary level–but that I still had to take a 3 hour test to prove it, since I didn’t place in like the highest possible Hebrew level or whatever. She hands me a sheet with a signature, which I stuff in my bag without reading. I decide I hadn’t heard her correctly and go back to the student center to grab a sandwich and pay the 340 NIS fee at the post office, praise God 15 min. before they closed.

Then I go back to Orit, feeling triumphant-ish, with all my papers: the form, the picture, the receipt from the post office, the letter from the Hebrew lady. She looks at it and informs me that yes, in fact, I do have to take this test on Feb 23. And to get the official transcript from my school. And once I have those, I can begin going around to the various departments in the attempt to get other people to sign the form so that I can register for classes.

I send a very apologetic email to my registrar begging for help on the transcript issue (this being special favor number two for the already-extra-work-for-her leave of absence student) and call a friend to borrow his grammar books. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to sweat this three-hour test, but–it’s been a long time since I had to, like, conjugate on paper. What’s the shem peulah of hifil lamed hey? I mean, icksah. My spoken Hebrew’s not bad (I mean, I’ve still got what to learn, but I’m pretty comfortable living in the language at this point), but who remembers the fine points of grammar? I spend pretty much all day on the 22nd (and a big chunk of the Shabbos before that) reviewing and making sure I’m good with everything in the textbook. I take the test on the 23rd. Duh, it was pretty easy.

After I hand in the test, I go upstairs to the Hebrew Lady again to ask about getting test results. “We don’t give out test results over the phone,” she said emphatically. Evidently I’d have to go back to the university to find out. In the meantime, my official transcript has miraculously arrived (the Israeli postal system can be a bit… ideosyncratic).

This morning I get on the bus (45 min each way) and head back up to the university to, God willing, get done with this. I’m on my way to the office of the Hebrew Lady to find out about the test when my phone rings.
“Is this Danya Ruttenberg?”
“Are you from Los Angeles?”
“Uh, yes. Who’s calling?”
“We’re just trying to determine that this is you. Is your date of birth such-and-such?”
“Yes, but who is this?”
“This is the Hebrew department. We have your test here, just wanted to confirm that it’s you before we put the results in the computer.”
“Um. How did I do?”
“Oh, you passed, of course, you’re just fine. You got a [then she tells me my score, of course I did just dandy]”
You got the part about no giving out scores over the phone, right?

Anyway, she told me I didn’t need to go to her, I could just go to Orit. So I did. Orit of course made me wait a few minutes, but then cheerfully accepted the news of my test score and my official transcript (which of course I had xeroxed along the way.) I am now admitted into the university as a–well, whatever my “special student” status is. Of course, I can’t register for classes today–it’ll take a few days for my something-or-other to get into the system. Which means that later this week I’ll be blessed with the opportunity to run around to the different departments (it’s only 2 classes, but I’ll count it as a miracle if I only have to visit 2 departments in the process of getting the correct signatures) to get the class registration form filled out, and then whatever other adventures remain–getting my student ID, dealing with tuition payment, and so forth.

When I got home, there was a letter in my mailbox informing me that I had been already registered as a student, but that I needed to take several language tests (Hebrew AND English) before they’d let me sign up for classes, and that it was my responsibility to make sure that that happened. It’s so nice to know that all the departments are so well in tune with each other, no?

All in all, I’m feeling very pleased with myself that I have managed to achieve registration. I’ve penetrated the first line of defense. And I don’t have to think about the next attack for another two whole days.

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