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28 November 2007

The Bank Account Ordeal

So today I tried to open a bank account here in the UK. It was more frustrating than I expected.

I went to the Barclay's Bank on campus, and waited for the banker to finish helping someone. I then take a seat and say that I want to open an account for an international student. I knew that they had special accounts for international students, and I knew that I needed to bring my passport and an acceptance letter from the university. So I gave him my forms, and he said, "No, this is the wrong form. You need a special letter from your university addressed to the bank."

Argh! So I had to leave the bank and find Mr. Harry Gibney, director of international students. Well, Harry wasn't in his office, so I had to go upstairs to the general international office. Luckily, the secretary there was helpful enough to print out the form for me. But it was incomplete; I still had to go back downstairs and get an official school stamp and seal on the form to make it officially official. So I did, it didn't take too long.

I went back to the bank; the guy who helped me was helping someone else, so I waited. When it was my turn, I gave him the official letter, and then he gave me an application for a bank account to fill out. OK, so I filled it out and gave it back to him, expecting him to process it and give me back all my bank account information. But NO, he said, "okay, now you'll hear back from us in 7 to 10 days."

I was shocked. 7 to 10 days! I needed the bank account today, by tomorrow morning at the latest, so I could show my bank information at my job interview tomorrow. I asked him if he could just let me know my account number at least. Nope. Hmm... So I asked him to make a photocopy of the application form I filled out so I could at least show that at my interview. And so he did, slowly.

Ugh! It's sometimes frustrating dealing with a different (and clearly inferior) system. Things like this make you appreciate much more all the little things we have back home.

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