Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You Pay Now!

Yesterday was take your husband to school day and so Pidgeon woke up bright and early, got dressed, packing a snack and his sketch pad, and we hit the road. We were really lucky that the traffic towards Bar Ilan from Jerusalem wasn't that bad, and we made it just in time for class! We spent the entire day focused on Emerson's Self-Reliance and the conversation about individualism and conformity was pretty interesting. Class went by pretty fast and Pidgeon really liked the topic. Plus, he got in some solid sketch time, which worked well for both of us.

After class, we went over to Schar Limmud to find out where the check was. To backtrack a bit, I am a Minhal Hastudentim student, which means that they pay for my tuition. Last year, by the time I finished up with Minhal Hastudentim, I was owed the full tuition I paid back since the agency now covered me. As soon as I put in my paperwork, I got a check a couple weeks later. This year, with the strike and everything, I paid the initial bill and then worked everything out with Minhal Hastudentim. I had to show them my transcript but one Professor, who taught two of my classes, hadn't gotten around to giving me a grade until November. Nevertheless, about 6 weeks ago, I went to Schar Limmud with the paperwork and we have been checking the mailbox ever since. 

We waited patiently in line and then went inside to meet with the kindest worker Bar Ilan has on staff. I told him that Pidgeon was my Hebrew and we started out meeting. That's when it got all comical. He told me there was a problem with my paperwork. He said that, Minhal Hastudentim last year covered me 111% out of 200% that they can cover for a second degree. He said that the percentage is determined based on hours on campus. Now, since I am only taking 2 courses this year, I am only up to 89% and Minhal Hastudentim were only covering me for 50% and so I actually owe them more money. I was very confused and first started on the percentage issue. He said that 4% is from the Jewish studies requirement. I told him that I was exempt from the second Jewish studies requirement because of my seminary year 12 years ago. He them said that while I am academically not required to take the second Jewish studies course, I still am financially required to. So I was surprised that they would going to charge me to pay for credits on a course that I was told I didn't have to take. That, to me, seemed really lousy for a University to do. Make me pay for not having taken the course? I might as well take the course then if I have to pay for it. It seemed a bit ridiculous to have me pay for something they told me I didn't have to take. So then the nice man told us we had to go to Talam on campus and ask them if I am financially required to pay for something I was academically not required to do. But, I countered, and said that I am 100% covered by Minhal Hastudentim, so should that we covered by them regardless? He told me that the computer showed that I was only covered 50% but he would double check. He walked back with a big folder with the paperwork and took 5 minutes to find my name. And, voila, there it was in black and white. I was covered by them this year 100%. OK great, we said, when can we expect our check. Well, the nice man met with a few of his superiors in the office and came back all smiles and said that of course he has to pay us our money, etc. I was happy that Pidgeon was there to translate because the whole situation was confusing and really made no sense. He checked his computer, frowned, and then told me that there was another small problem. They hadn't charged me for the Shmirah for the year. Basically, each Bar Ilan student has to pay 240 shekel (add 4 shekel to that for bank processing fees) a year for campus security. So, Pidgeon asked if I paid last year, and the man said that I had. I am more than happy to pay the security fee, especially since I think it's a necessary service, so we asked him what we do next. He printed out a 240 shekel bill, told me that I had to pay it by Friday, and then said that the check would be in the mail around March 20th. Believe me, we will be checking, as we can really use that cash back. Now, I decided not to be a pain about this, but if Minhal Hastudentim are covering me 100% this year, and I'm only in school for 89% of the 100%, what happens to the remaining 11%? I'm sure that's more than 240 shekels, couldn't they have deducted that fee from the money the Minhal Hastudentim were giving them? Again, they are giving the school 100% of the money, even though I'm only using 89% of it. When it comes to security though, I decided to just pay it. But, I think someone in the Bar Ilan administration is pocketing my 11%. I hope they buy themselves something pretty with my money.

Side point, but had we not gone and asked about the money status, we never would have known there was a problem. I hate that they do that, and I honestly believe the University does it on purpose. When it comes to money, they will not run to return a cent even if it's not legally there's. Had I not been hyper-vigilant about this, I never would have know about the problem and we would still be waiting for the check that was supposed to be "in the mail" weeks ago! I lost a lot of respect for the Bar Ilan administration yesterday and didn't ask him why no one bothered to tell me about the issue in the first place because, as I've experience dealing with money issues in Israel before,  I know I wouldn't have gotten a satisfactory answer. 

To celebrate sorting out this issue, we decided to grab some lunch at the Aroma off campus. We sat in the outdoor area and had tuna salads and tuna sandwiches and enjoyed the nice Spring like weather. In a few weeks, it will be just so swealtering that I doubt I'll be able to sit outside like that. I'm not looking forward to the really hot weather, although it will be nice to shlep less stuff during the day. After lunch, we decided not to do our Tel Aviv errands, and came back to Jerusalem.

I was supposed to start my Mishloach Manot baking yesterday but, since I woke up at 6:00 a.m., was too wiped to start. Instead, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching some TV, and then when Pidgeon went for a haircut, I made dinner. We had a really nice, relaxing, dinner and then I decided to try to fix my shaytels before Shabbos. With it being Parshat Zachor this weekend, I have not choice but have to get myself to shul on Shabbos day. I like to have options to wear a wig, in case I don't want to wear a hat, so I needed to make sure they were both in decent condition. It was not easy wielding a hot iron and working on my wigs, but it was worth it and they both look really great. I was pleased that I saved a lot of money! It would have cost me 140 shekel each to have someone in Har Nof wash and blow dry my wigs, this way I was able to do it at home for free!

We went to bed fairly early and I was up at 9:00 to call the Dr. I've been dealing with blood test after blood test for the past few months regarding a potential blood clotting issue. I found Dr. Varon, who is apparently "the best" hematologist in Jerusalem, and have been waiting for my test results so I can follow up with him. The results take a month to get and when we finally picked them up on the 9th, I immediately called to speak with him. He told us to fax over the results and then asked me to call him this morning to discuss. At 9:00 am on the dot, I called him and he basically told me that These results cannot be discussed over the telephone, you must come in and meet with me. Not something I wanted to hear, and so I've basically been in a panic all morning. He told us to call him after 3:00 p.m. so he could let us know if he can squeeze us into his schedule. 

Well, I certainly hope he can see us today because now I'm pretty frantic. What could this mean? 

Anyway, I'm going to go and bake a batch of chocolate cakes for Purim now and hope that will easy the tension a bit.  If not, I'm sure the gym later today will make me feel better. 

Yom Tov from Baka!

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