Please Take the Next Number, It Will be About 4 Hours

This week has basically been my first week by myself in the city. When I say this, I mean that I wasn’t in a classroom for orientation all day and had to navigate the city by myself. With this new found freedom, there have definitely been some crash and burn moments and also some really cool things to witness as well.
In order to study in Chile, you need to have a student identity card which they call a cedula here. During the first week of orientation, IES took us as a group to wait at the PDI to register our visa. There were about 300 people when we got there at about 10 am. We waited about 2 to 3 hours for everyone in our group to get through the line. Even though it was a crazy place with absolutely no air circulating, it didn’t feel so long because it was nice to get to know everyone in our group and it was the closest thing we had to free time in that first week.
After our visa was registered, we received this big white card that had my picture on it and all my personal information, like my name and address here. Once IES had made copies of everyone’s passport and white card that we received at the PDI, we were told that we needed to go to ANOTHER office on our own time in order to receive the actual card. They emailed us with everything we needed to do and said we needed to complete this by Friday of the next week.
On Monday I went to this office with three other girls before we needed to meet at IES for orientation activities. We thought we would walk in and wait for about 20 minutes and leave. No. We walked in and pulled number 98 and they were on 16. We decided it wasn’t worth it to wait because we knew we wouldn’t be called before we needed to meet at IES, so we left and decided to come back another day. Our orientation activities that day ended early and so me and another set of girls decided we were going to go to the office and get our cedulas. We pulled number 78 and they were on 40, so we thought it wouldn’t be too bad of a wait. After about 20 minutes of still not being called we went to go check what number they were on and realized that not only were they only on about 50, but they were on A50 and we were B78! Since we had no choice, we were in for the ride and waited for another 2 and half hours before they even called the first person in our group.
At this point we were all very excited to get our cedulas and leave. It was around lunch time and we were all very hungry and tired of waiting. The first girl went up to the counter and very quickly returned, no cedula in hand. We asked what happened and she said that the employee told her her entrance stamp wasn’t legible and that she had to go back to the PDI and then come back to this office in order to receive her cedula. We were all freaking out now. Would we all have the same problem. We checked our passport and saw that all of our stamps seemed very clear except one other girl. Next, Martha went. Her stamp was clear and she was sure she would get her cedula. As she walked to the counter though, the lady asked for her photocopies, which Martha didn’t have. In the email that IES sent us with what we needed to bring to this office, they never mentioned photocopies. Martha left the counter, not saying anything and clearly very pissed.
I was really upset for her. Not only did she wait 2 and a half hours to get her cedula, but now she had to come back and wait another time to get it. But I was confident that I would get mine. My stamp was clear and I had my photocopies. I walked up next, said Hola, and handed her my passport with my photocopies. She quickly looked through them and then curtly replied that I couldn’t receive my cedula because I didn’t have a photocopy of my entrance stamp. I looked at her with a blank stare. Really?! REALLY?!!! I did my best in what I’m sure was broken Spanish to sound as mad as possible and try to explain that I had waited 2 and a half hours simply to be turned away and this wasn’t fair, that I couldn’t wait in this line again. She just looked at me, no sympathy, and said there was no way I could get my cedula without a photocopy of my entrance stamp. I was absolutely furious! I slunked back in the chair for about a minute, not moving. Then I asked why she couldn’t just make a photocopy there but she quickly refused to do that. I walked away, with no cedula in hand, and absolutely furious.
That day, only about 3 out of 9 people got their cedula. Two people didn’t have legible entrance stamps, one didn’t have their photocopies, one had a copy of the wrong entrance stamp in their passport, and I didn’t have a copy of the entrance stamp at all. None of this was our fault. And we had waited 2 and half hours in line to pay the price.
We told everyone in IES after this happened to check their photocopies and make sure that they had everything with them. A group went the next day and while more of them got cedulas, they waited 4 and half hours in line because the computers crashed about 20 minutes after they opened!!! About a day later more people went and couldn’t get their cedulas either because their name was spelled wrong on different documents. All around, nobody had an easy time getting this cedula. It hasn’t been the best experience I’ve had but it has made for an interesting story and I’ll tell you one thing—I will never complain about the DMV again.

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