I applied to study psychology last year, and because psychology is one of the most wanted majors here in Germany, one does not apply to the universities directly, but to a central placement authority (ZVS, if you've heard of it). That process in itself is the height of bureaucracy, but alas, it is not the point of this story. It is relevant, though, because due to the extremely bureaucratic application / placement process, it happens very frequently that people get in in the second or third of even fourth round of assigning people to schools, and of course that means that those people will receive VERY short notice of having scored a place. (I know, it's complicated. Sorry, I tried.)
Of course, that's exactly what happened to me. On October 18th, 2005, I got a letter telling me that I was accepted at Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz. I live roughly 250km from that city, which is quite far for German standards. And the semester was going to start on October 31st. Naturally, I panicked because as in all (German) college towns, student housing is very, VERY limited in Mainz and the rent index is VERY high. So imagine my surprise, relief and complete delight when I called Student Housing the next morning and was told that they had a room in one of the campus-based dorms for me.
They told me to fax in the most important paperwork immediately and send the rest via regular mail, which of course I immediately took care of (within the hour, in fact). They also told me that I would receive the lease paperwork in the mail. Bliss. So I waited. And waited. And waited. After a week, I got really worried and decided to call again (the third time, actually).
Here's how the call went:
Me: Hello, (blabla), I was told that I could get a room in $dorm, and I haven't received the lease yet.
SH: ... Hold please.
(10 minutes of rustling paper, muffled voices, etc.)
SH (accusatory): Who told you there was a room available?!
Me: Oh, I'm sorry, I do not remember their names, but I was told by two of your colleagues, on seperate occasions, on day x and day y.. I faxed my paperwork in the same day and sent the proper application by mail the same day, too, as I was told to.
SH: Well, we don't have any record of that.
SH: ... And there are no rooms available. Why would you think you'd get a room right away, anyway?! We have a one semester waiting period for all students!!
Me: :o Oh, gosh, I did not know that... I was told I could get a room and to send in my paperwork, so I did and, ... What am I going to do now? (At that point, I thoroughly embarrassed myself by starting to cry. The stress of the whole moving-away-for-college-within-two-weeks was just too much at that point...)
SH: Well, ... (rustling of more paper), I'll see what I can do and call you back.
They eventually found me a tiny temporary "guest room", at least something to sleep in for the first few weeks. I later got extremely lucky (the girl that lived in the room I'm now staying in very suddenly decided to move out), and they bumped me up to the list because they "knew my story", as they told my now-roommate. "KNEW my story"? More like CAUSED my "story"!!