Monday, 23 February 2009

Gift Horse

A few weeks ago I got a letter from the international office at my university. It wasn't an important notice, only a reminder that I needed to submit a form if I planned to leave the country over spring break. Since I know about the form (I submitted when I went home for Christmas) and am not planning to leave Japan during spring break, I threw the letter out (well, actually I threw out the envalope and will reuse the paper... but I'm splitting hairs).

What annoyed me about the situation was not the letter, it was the fact that the letter had taken about two weeks to get to me because the office had sent it to my old address, at the dorm. I changed my address with every conceivable office at the unviersity (and wrote about it too). But not one of the offices succeeded in actually sending mail to my new address. I had to go back in and remind them, or the mail had to be sent back to them before they actually got the message.

You'd think that in a country as technologically advanced as Japan that they'd have the electronic records thing down. But no. Paperwork here is all on paper, and often surprisingly badly filed too. I never thought I'd find myself nostalgically remembering the computer based system of my undergrad when you couldn't find a person to speak to, but changing your address or just about any other piece of information took nothing more than logging into a website and updating the relevant information.


So. When I went into the international office for my monthly sign-in (a requirement of my scholarship) I reminded them that I had moved and asked them to make sure that future letters be sent to my new address. They apologized and then started talking about my bank book. I was confused, so I asked what they were talking about. It turns out they got more than my address wrong, they actually sent me the wrong letter! What they thought they had sent me was a letter from the friends of the university association. The association, worried about the affect of economic difficulties on foreign students, had decided to give all foreign students (even those on scholarship) at the university a lump sum to help them through any difficulties. The international office wanted my bank account info so that they could deposit Y30,000. I was asked if would be willing to give them this information within the next week.

I left the office in a much better mood, but dogged by the worry that I should contact the Publisher's Clearinghouse Prize Patrol with my address change!

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