So ya know how Dante wrote The Inferno? In that book, he included 9 levels of hell:

1st – Limbo, 2nd – Lust, 3rd – Gluttony, 4th – Avarice and Prodigality, 5th – Wrath and Sullenness, 6th – Heresy, 7th – Violence, 8th – Fraud, 9th – Treachery.

Well, I submit that there should be a 1.5th (pronunciation: one-and-a-half-th) level specifically for KULeuven’s registration and enrollment process.

You may think I am kidding and over exaggerating, and…I am. But then again, this is my story:

So please sit back and allow me to start from the beginning.

I applied, of course, and that was not an issue. I was very fortunately accepted to all the schools I applied to and chose KULeuven because of it’s ranking in the Top 100 schools of the world, top 25 in Europe, and it’s amazing history! Plus, it’s in Leuven which is beyond amazing in-&-of itself! So after I was accepted, I was told that I needed to visit the International Students Office to show my original diplomas (high school and university!). Well…naturally, I didn’t bring those to Europe with me! I tend not to carry my diplomas everywhere – I know this is crazy, but it’s just one of those things…

So I got to ask my wonderful sister to go to our TX house and search SOMEWHERE for my diplomas. Fortunately I didn’t throw them into the bottom of a box like I did everything else! So she sends them to me…now I’m ready to go.

So I go to the International Students Office and they say “Looks good. Do you have your application letter?” Well, I didn’t, because I found out about my acceptance through email and apparently they sent my official acceptance letter to our US address. Prima! Well, she was nice enough to print me another – actually two (this is important, by the way) – and she told me that all I needed to do was take this acceptance letter to the Registrar’s Office on or after August 15th and I could do the rest from there and officially become a KUL student.

So in a few weeks, I moved in, got situated in Leuven, and August 15th rolls around. Now, in this time frame, I also had my visa approved and received a temporary visa while waiting for my official identity card to arrive. This is also important.

So I take my letter of admissions and my temporary visa paper to the Registrar’s Office.

The Registrar’s Office:

I lay them both on the counter and say, “yes, hi, I need to register for this year…” She looks at the papers and asks me if I have my Passport. I did not. I HAD MY VISA. So she turns around asks some other girl (I can only assume someone who must’ve been more aware of what was going on? I don’t know…) if it’s okay if I just have my visa and not my passport. The other girl replies “we prefer your passport.”

So they would rather have my passport rather than my visa that required me to have: my passport, birth certificate (notarized by the LA Secretary of State), letter of acceptance to KUL, FBI background check, bill of good health from my Dr., visit from the Police to prove I actually had a place to reside, and the promise of my first born child. But no. Passport is “preferred” and it was in Hasselt. So I got to wait a week until I saw my parents again to get my passport.

However, while I was there, they also inform me that my letter of acceptance isn’t stamped and asked if I have another. Well, whatdyaknow – I sure do! And apparently only one of them is stamped and approved for registration. YAY for…I don’t know…not being able to look me up in a computer or something?!

So I leave the registrar’s for the first time with absolutely nothing accomplished.

After I get my passport from my parents, I try again. I go and hand them my passport and my OTHER [stamped] acceptance letter and they appear to be satisfied. I am ushered to an area with signs that denote international students.

I get my picture taken and, of course, look like something between a child molester and big foot. I contend that they got someone else’s picture on my card, but whatever. Then I’m ushered into another line…

I wait. Then finally get up to a lady and present all of the stuff I have: my acceptance letter, my passport, my visa (for good measure), and the student ID card I was just given. She picks up my visa paper and acts as if she’s never seen one in her entire life. I look at it intently as if I could somehow read any of the Flemish words on it – but I try to explain that I’ve already gone through the visa process and am approved to be living here and attend school. She still seems super confused. She asks me if I have a housing contract in Leuven. I say I have a lease, yes – so she asks me if I have it with me. But would you believe that it was one of those weird and rare times that I wasn’t carrying that around with me?!?! She says they need it. OF COURSE THEY DO!  So I leave…with not really anything accomplished.

I go BACK to my apartment to get my lease and then return to the Registrar’s Office. I get to wait for another 30 minutes in line until I get to talk to a DIFFERENT lady. This time I get to reexplain everything (again…) and lay everything I have on the table. Which at this point has grown to include everything from my passport and visa to my FBI background check to the receipt for the sandwhich I bought at lunch.  She copies my lease and says they’re going to send it to the city hall and they will send me an email and INVITE me to come check in and sort out the visa stuff. Well, hello!!!!! I ALREADY HAVE A VISA! She sifts through it all and looks at my visa paper like she’s actually seen one before! I get excited. I try to explain in english (again…) that I’m here under my parents’ visa because my dad works less than an hour away. So she says she THINKS that I now need to the City Hall which is 15 minutes away walking by the Train Station to “check in” and see if they can help me.

So I leave once again and head to the City Hall. I go up to the front desk and tell the lady my situation (again…) and that I’m a student. She asks me if I am EU or Non-EU. I say I’m American: Non-EU, so she tears me off a YELLOW ticket and says the person at the second desk will help me – she actually even walks with me and points to the desk which I am supposed to visit. I go up to the desk and once again fan out everything I have, which at this point has once again grown to include a receipt for a bottle of vodka and 4 packs of cigarettes which are all already empty.

Upon explaining my situation (again…), she asks me if I am EU or Non-EU; naturally, I say (again…) that I’m Non-EU. She smiles and says that she only deals with EU students. I laugh and say “well, that is ironic because I was told to come to the second desk because you only helped Non-Eu students!” Apparently I needed the 1.5th desk…So this lady is super nice and goes to find someone who can help me. She returns with someone who is actually half-American so her english is FLAWLESS (not that anyone here speaks terrible english haha)! I once again describe the situation and she takes me to ANOTHER person who seems to understand. Basically they tell me I don’t need to do anything else, that I’m fine and it’s no big deal that my official address in Hasselt, blah blah – I’m good. I’M GOOD! Best thing I heard all day.

So upon registration we were given an email address and password. That. Is. It. We were not told how to actually register for classes. We were given a schedule at the Registrar’s Office, but it had classes overlapping all over the place and the classes weren’t even in the major I wanted! So I took it upon myself to visit the lady who is in charge of my Masters program – she isn’t in after 12:00. Of course she isn’t.

I email her.

She tell me there’s nothing I can do to change my schedule yet and that there would be an info session on September 27th. SEPTEMBER 27TH!? Classes started TODAY on the 28th! So I go the info session and start trying to figure out how to do this – I need classes and I need them now, they start TOMORROW!

This was the room we had THAT meeting in:

So I go back home after the info session and sign online in an attempt to sign up for classes. I sign up for the classes I had originally marked as classes I was super interested in and wanted to take. When I press save, all I see is a ton of red. Classes overlap, times overlap, exam schedule overlaps. @#$*& &$^#&^@   *!@#$&%!!

So then I get to play with it for about 6-8 hours total to get a schedule where nothing overlaps and the exams aren’t on the same day.

I think I finally have one. I’m happy with it – not as happy as I would be with the original I has planned – But life continues. I think will actually really enjoy all the classes, I just wish the classes were spread out 4-4 over the two semesters instead of 3-5…Cause I’d like an easier class load in the 2nd semester to work on my 15,000+ word thesis. But either way, I will soon post what classes I am signed up for, and let you know how they are going! ;)

I’m still not actually signed up for classes, by the way – I’m just going to the classes I think I want and seeing how they are. I have to make up my mind before October 13th – with my luck, that’s probably a Friday. But I suppose it’s nice that I get to test out the classes first.

So all-in-all, I just can’t believe that they have over 1,000 international students here who are already super confused with everything and we must wait until the DAY BEFORE CLASSES START to even tell us HOW to sign onto the Toledo where we can pick our classes?! The thing that really upsets me about this is that many of us want/wanted to sign up for language classes or culture classes or exercise classes and we couldn’t do it because we didn’t know our class schedule yet. I think they really need to work on that. But then again, they’ve got 40,000 students, so I can only imagine how confusing the whole process is – I just can’t help but think there’s a more efficient way to go about it that would also allow students to have an idea of what they’re going to be doing during the year a little bit before the first day of classes.

But I will also say this: now that I’ve done it, if I were to ever need to enroll and register again – it would be much much easier. It’s just the first time was really hard. I’m sure the administration thinks it’s easy because they do it every year, but for a brand new student who is dealing with a new home, a new language, a new culture…it would be nice to have a book or pamphlet or some type of additional information :)

So either way, I just needed to share that with you, because…I mean…let’s face it…it was worth sharing.

However, in other news, I LOVE K.U.LEUVEN, I LOVE LEUVEN, I LOVE MY FRIENDS HERE, I LOVE THE CULTURE…I LOVE BEING HERE. I may have had a relatively difficult experience with registration and enrollment, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything (except an easier enrollment and registration process…)! ;)    So far, one of the best things I’ve done is seek out education abroad. It has been an amazing experience and is only getting better! If you have the opportunity, DO IT. All the work & stress it takes to register and enroll will be SO WORTH IT!

Nonetheless, I had my first class today: Strategic Financial Management…and I liked it a lot :)

Next post will be UBER positive and no whiney-ass-bitchin’ allowed! ;)


– Ross


  • Comment by Katie — September 29, 2010 @ 04:54

    Only makes you stronger, right?

    By the way, I’m pronouncing it “one-point-fifth.”

    Glad you’re surviving and enjoying.

  • Comment by Gerrit — September 29, 2010 @ 10:13

    Haha! I know precisely how you feel!
    I am currently studying at the Catholic University College of Leuven at the Department Of Educational Training (in dutch with acronyms: KHL DLO).
    And I had the same amount of problems, even when I enrolled my second year with all the extra things like paying less intuition money and getting a scholarship.
    As a matter of fact, when I wanted to apply for a “non-EU” workers permit for this year I went to the City Office and they actually told me that they had no record of me even studying here the PREVIOUS YEAR!
    Good luck with your studies mate :)

  • Comment by Whitley — September 29, 2010 @ 19:14

    WOW. Can’t believe how many complications you ran into, honestly seems like something that would happen to me hahaha. I’m glad you love it there, I bet that school is so fantastic. I can’t wait to move to Europe one day. Although, I’m thinking Sweden for myself. Good luck!

    xo Whitley

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