I’m not sure if any international student’s life in Germany is a piece of cake, especially if you are over 30 years of age, and/or in your 5th semester. Mine isn’t easy either. But mine is slightly little more ducked up because I am still not used to reading (hardcopy) letters that different authorities (like the health insurance company in Germany) send to my mailbox.For the uninitiated:
- AOK is a public health insurance provider in Germany.
- Mawista is a private health insurance company, a cheaper alternative mainly for the students who are over 30 years of age.
- “Exmatriculation” means de-registering a student from the university.
- It is mandatory to have health insurance conforming to sections of German laws and the university needs to know it, always; failing which the student could be exmatriculated.
There are quite a few issues that I am dealing with, parallelly: physical health, my lack of knowledge about tax deductions, exemptions and filing returns, three jobs, two projects, time constraints and one of the people I work with who I now identify as toxic.
Along with this, having a sort of semi-active social life is, umm, tough.
Did you just wonder a little about being exmatriculated? Well, yes. I am almost exmatriculated if not already exmatriculated during the time I am writing this blog post.
My term with AOK should have ended on September 6, 2019. I signed up with a private health insurance company Mawista on August 6, 2019. I was caught up with work and by the time I could give the details of my new insurance to AOK, it was August 18, 2019.
Quite mischievously, my debit card was not working on August15th. I thought it might be some issue with the chip card or something. Venkatesh was with me, I borrowed some cash for the grocery and paid it off. I was a little concerned when my no bank operations were possible.
Later on further inquiry, I got to know that they deducted all the money at once and forgot that I am a student. Since I am 30, I am not really expected to be a student and/or that I should prove it periodically submitting my semester registration details. I submitted my details and got a considerable fraction of money back on the last day of August 2019. Anyway, September 6th was the last day with AOK and I already had Mawista. How could things go wrong now? But wait!
During October 2019, I saw some good amount being deducted very unsuspectedly. It was AOK again! This time my friend who speaks German and asks questions critically accompanied me, so that information does not get lost in translation. I got to know that Mawista offers health insurance and not care insurance. An international student in Germany needs to have both under section SGB V paragraph 5 of German laws.
Oh yes, AOK deducted the money on the 15th of October. They also issued me a notice for a deduction on 14th of October 2019. The mail either did not reach me on the 14th or was peacefully in the mailbox when I was discussing this with AOK.
After running around in circles with Carl (the German friend), I had to settle for AOK. I have other issues to deal with, the 184.74 euros per month for AOK isn’t one of them. Ah yes, in the middle I exploded in front of a really scary looking lady at the Studentenwerk office only to discover that she is incredibly sweet when she starts laughing.
So you think everything is settled, right? Wait.
So! One of the three jobs that I do is that of tutoring. Yes, of all the things that I could have done, I chose to stand in front of a class full of students, fielding questions, answering them, keeping calm, adhering to regulations set, consciously trying not to appear rude or stupid even remotely. Today’s class starts at 11 in the morning. I got an email at 10:56 AM.
I was inside the class, conducting it and wanted to have a meeting with the person who sent me the email. Her office hours ended at 12 and my class at 1 in the afternoon. I had a quick chat with the officer in charge of FIN international students and then wanted to have a chat with the international’s office. The lady at the international’s office is on leave and would come only next week. I went to the person’s office who sent me the email only to, umm, be refused to be talked with; because, obviously, it wasn’t her office hours.
Maybe I am already exmatriculated or possibly everything would be all right by the next Monday. At this point in time, when I am writing this, I do not know.
I sincerely thank Venkatesh, Madhu, Carl for being there with me, selflessly, all the time during this!