Cultural Blunder Numero Uno

This is a previous post from another blog but I thought would share it as a part of the details of my family and I moving to Edinburgh.

Several months ago I began the application process for New College. Completing an application at New College is extremely easy because with the online account, you just upload your documents and when everything is uploaded you can then send your application with total peace of mind that you have submitted all that is needed.

My blunder, however, came at the very beginning of the application process: setting up an online account with the university. To begin the process you must enter your name (as it appears on your passport–otherwise getting your visa could prove quite challenging) and then your date of birth. Unlike the US where we normally give our date of birth as: mm/dd/yyyy the UK ordering is dd/mm/yyyy. Now, my birthday is May 16 (for those desiring to send me good things on that day–cash is always nice) which means I was entering in that I was born during the 16th month which may only occur in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Seeing as the University has not made the switch the official trekkie calendar it kept rejecting my enrollment.

I cannot emphasize enough how many times I entered my birth month as the 16th month hoping for Edinburgh to get a clue from all those TNT reruns! My hope continued in vain (Error: Please enter valid information). After several days (it felt like weeks) I emailed the university to inform them that their online enrollment was suffering from glitches (I know, I’m such a good samaritan). After emailing back and forth with a very helpful individual at the university he started troubleshooting the problem immediately: was it the software update, no the software is fine. Maybe, I should try using a different browser, no, same error. Maybe, try using a pc rather than a mac (I know, it’s funny to think about the mac being at fault or using a pc as the solution). Finally, I emailed him the actual error message. “Oh!”, he said (wrote). “You are entering in your date of birth wrong. In the UK, we enter our DOB as dd/mm/yyyy not mm/dd/yyyy like you do in the states.” Surely, I could not have made such an easily avoidable mistake. I mean–I can read. I do have a masters degree after all. I looked at that opening page nearly 30 times. But the next time I looked there was something different–something had changed (it really had not), next to the empty field box I saw it–dd/mm/yyyy. Now, I knew that I was bound to make cultural miscues during our time abroad. I just had no idea that it would come at the very FIRST step in the process. I’m sure those of you who know me are not at all surprised that I would misstep so early. All I can do is shrug and smile at your assessment.