Oh my, these last two experiences really made me loose the last little bit of faith in “the system” (OK – granted, that’s a lie, I lost that quite a long time ago, but it makes it sound more dramatic). It’s really not meant to be read all the way through- if you fall off some time in there you really got my main point 🙂

UiO Administration Building - straight from hell!
UiO Administration Building – straight from hell!

The situation that I want to tell you about is about a friend of my from Douglas, AZ. I met him there when he was about to graduate high school, and now he has been attending Cochise College for almost three semesters. He has good grades and all, and he thought that he could just come over here under whatever program they have in place. So he asked me to find out what possibilities there are, and this is where the fun starts… We have this building called the “Administration building” and it looks very much the way I remember the office building that Asterix and Obelix (a very popular comic book series in Europe) have to enter in their tour to Rome when they have to get just one form for some reason, but they are send back and forth and up and down the stairs as they always need just one more form to get the form they request, etc. .

Now I don’t know whether they modeled the comic drawings after our building or whether they build our admin building according to the comic or whether simply all bureaucrats make their buildings look that way, but the similarity seems striking to me.

Now first I went to the desk on the first floor that says “international students” and I explained the case there. “He can simply as a ‘guest student’ directly to the institute,” the guy behind the counter said after he understood that UiO doesn’t have an agreement with Cochise College. I found out about the name of institute that has taken over from the Institute of British and American studies, which was dissolved this summer due to new budgetary restraints plus the need for bureaucrats to reform everything constantly (ok, that is part of capitalism as well, but more about that some other place).
I send the email to my Douglasite friend and thought that it would be it. Now of course it wouldn’t – the answer my friend got was a mail that was send to the wrongly in which the institute guy talks to a colleague referring to the “dilemma with guest students”. The institute guy is not sitting in he Administration building, but soon the mail had been send over there again; my friend was now forwarded to the section of internationalization of studies (SiS), but he has to this day not received an answer from them.
He also tried to get in at the University of Arizona (UofA) to apply as an exchange student through them, but they said that their quote with UiO was filled already. So I was back in the Administration building after only a few days – second floor this time. I was first send to the person that was said is responsible for guest students by the other bureaucrats I met in the hall way. “Oh no, I’m not responsible for guest students that WANT to come; I’m responsible for guest students once they are here,” she said while she chowed me into the office of another of her buddies. She also added a few words about such applications being confidential and that therefore no-one will be able to say anything about any particular case to me as an outsider.

“I just came back from holiday today,” the next one started, “so I haven’t seen that email yet.” But when I told her the name of the person, she quickly found it, and she had no problem talking to me about this person that I claim to know – “he has very good grades!” was her first comment. And yes, it would be way easier to take him in as an exchange student and there is no real quota set for the UofA. But she also said that it is probably better to try to get in through the “Oslo Year Program” – “then he’ll be sort of an exchange student. We really don’t even talk about guest students; if we let people in that way we will have the entire world here because it’s free to study here,” is her explanation (I wonder what that other woman who is responsible for guest students does all year). Visiting the guy from the institute, I learned that “the institute doesn’t really know what your friend means by ‘guest student’ – all we have ever had are exchange students,” he now told me. Now I am pretty sure that he is the same guy that earlier wrongly send Hunt the message that was meant for some other bureaucrat where he was talking about a ‘dilemma’ connected to guest students. Funny how they tend to forget around there. He promised me that he would answer my friend within a week about the institute’s final decision – now three weeks have passed and my friend still hasn’t received an answer. On top of that my friends has received a mail from those arranging the Oslo Year Program – the program as been terminated and is now only open to students from some particular exotic college in the US! Apparently the person that is responsible for not letting guest students in has not recently been communication with those that handle the students that are actually to be let in…

Now the tactic I told my friend is simply to send the same application email to absolutely everybody who in any way could have anything to do with internationals, student, studies or anything related. I gave him a hand full of email addresses, and we’ll see where that will lead. It should at least keep a few hundred administration-building-heads spinning for a while….

Gee, I really don’t think the soviet union would be able to beat this!

Have a good weekend everybody!

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