It may not look like much, but this is an important building in our lives.
It's here in this place where we are issued resident visas, a vital document that allows us to live and do our work here in the Czech Republic.
When we first moved here twenty years ago, we had to visit a building similar to this every year.
Every. Single. Year.
It would take weeks, and sometimes even months, to gather all the paperwork necessary to obtain those visas. Then we'd stand in long lines, with our children, for hours, waiting to get into the office to submit the paperwork.
Only to be inevitably told we didn't have everything in order and to come back again another day.
Eventually everything would be in order and we'd receive the visa. But then just months later, before we knew it, we were starting the process all over again. It was a stressful process for me.
Ten years ago we were finally able to apply for, and receive, ten year visas. What an incredible day it was when we walked out with those visas in our passports knowing we wouldn't have to return for a long time!
But ten years has somehow come and gone, and today it was time to return to apply again.
Not much had changed in the office building. The same plants are growing in the corner. The table and chairs are the same, as is the little cubicle you sit in to talk with the lady who processes your request. It was like going back in time to be there.
But the process of application is completely different now!
We no longer have to supply a translated copy of each of our birth certificates, a copy of our marriage license, proof of medical insurance, or a letter stating that we'll provide for our children (each time we applied for our visas in those early years, we gathered those types of things and much more).
Today we only filled in a form, signed it, took a picture, and were fingerprinted.
We were in and out of the office in a half hour, and will return in two weeks to pick them up. Amazing!
It's a privilege to live in this country, and I don't take it lightly that they allow us to be here.
I'm just glad the process is not so stressful anymore!
It will be nice to pick up those visas and know we have another ten years before we have to go back and do it again.