“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin
There is a reason/story for this adage to be coined by Benjamin Franklin, one of USA’s founding fathers. Today, you will not read about how Benjamin Franklin came up with this quote, but rather, how I failed to heed his advice and learnt from it. (For all those going on exchange to Germany, pay extra attention!)
When heading for study exchange to Germany, one has to apply for a student exchange visa at their local embassy. In order for them to process the visa application, you need to have proof of financial resources to make sure you can survive in Germany. This can be done by having any one of these three:
- A blocked account at a German Bank (Deutsche Bank)
- Proof of scholarship/stipendium by a German institution
- a formal letter of obligation from a resident of Germany
How long does it take to obtain a student exchange visa? On the website, it states 2-3 months. Their staff said 5-6 weeks. But my friends managed to get it within 4 weeks.When I submitted my last piece of document, the earliest I could get it was in 12 days…Let’s just take it as 4 weeks for them to process the application after you have submitted all your documents. (AND YOU MUST SUBMIT ALL THE DOCUMENTS.)
TO get a blocked account at Deutsche Bank, you need about 4 weeks for your application to be processed. 5-7 days for your mail to reach Germany, few days to reach the city…and the remaining time for them to process your application.
Total time taken: ~2 MONTHS!
2 MONTHS to get your VISA!
I started this procedure in December. Bear in mind that my initial departure date was 27/02 to attend a language course at my partner university. At the end of December, I had to send another application to Germany because I left out some signatures. At this stage, I have changed my plans and booked my flight tickets on the early morning of 13/03.
Come early February, I received another email stating I have to send ANOTHER letter due to some legal changes. This set me into panic mode. There is a lot of uncertainty in it and the chances of me making my newly departure date is very low.
Of course, I am responsible for what happened. If I had learnt about the time needed earlier, which I should have researched by myself first, I could have avoided all these trouble. (This is where I learnt about “I am responsible”.)
Here are some things that I’ve learnt from this ordeal:
- Research and prepare for what you have to do. And do it.
- There will be a lot of uncertainty in life. Sometimes, just create a Plan A, B, C…Z. There are tools that can help you create certainty in life. Learn to use them and leverage on them.
- I am responsible. Will pushing the blame help you solve things?
- And of course, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. This applies to everything in life, your finances, life goals, etc. Some argue about being spontaneous but I will leave this argument for another day.
And in the end, I didn’t need the blocked account.