Oh god I’m so sorry for that. I couldn’t help it.

This post belonged with the last one, but I broke them up for readability (and also because the last post was mostly about personal things, and this one is more about a German phenomenon).

Today I received my very first final grade! Granted, it’s for one of my two Russian classes this semester, and is therefore worth about 8% of my semester GPA. Mostly it was exciting because, as happened so frequently on my trip to Bavaria, I experienced something for the first time that I had last heard about in my first or second year of high-school German: Scheine. “Schein” (pronounced “shine,” not “sheen”) is a deliciously vague tidbit of bureaucratese that can’t really be translated any more exactly than “document.” It does refer to a particular kind of document, but Americans are fortunate enough not to have to differentiate.

In the case of higher education, Scheine are of paramount importance. The professor hands them out on the last day of class, and they are the only proof you have that you took the course. If a grade is given for the course, the Schein is the only piece of paper in the world that has that grade on it. You collect your Scheine and then take them to the testing office of your department, which then gives you credit (or not) for the courses and enters grades into the official record. Don’t. Lose. The. Schein.

Back in the fall when I learned that I had to fulfill my Russian credits at the HU, I went to the Testing Office to make sure I knew what to do. There, the secretary advised me to simply keep my Scheine until I’d fulfilled all of the program requirements, and then save some time by submitting them all at once. In other words, “Here are some unremarkable-looking half-sheets of paper that will ultimately decide whether you graduate. Why don’t you just hang on to them for the next two years, during which time you’ll be leading a semi-nomadic lifestyle?”

That’s what she said to the student who had to wear boots to class today because she couldn’t find two matching socks. Right.

Anyway, here’s my very first Schein (preserved digitally in case of Kate; censored because Big Brother is watching)!