Letter from the US Embassy in Damascus
I am planning on studying at Damascus University and in order to do that I needed to get a letter saying that my home embassy (USA) has no objection to me studying in Damascus. This is a bit of an odd request from DU but requests must not be denied!
I took a taxi from the old city to the embassy and the taxi driver just said a flat rate of 100 syrian pounds (about $2) so I took it. The way back I got ripped off from another taxi driver who showed me at the end that he was a 'special taxi' and therefore cost 400 pounds, 8$. I could/should have complained/called the police but whatever.
At the embassy you have to go to the left side wall and find the line waiting for consular affairs. Make sure you bring your passport and $30 usd or the equivalent in Syrian. The office is open only from 8-10am Sunday-Thursday.
There are a bunch of other people there waiting to get visas and whatnot. They have a special door for Americans and there were a bunch of young annoying American college students studying Arabic... I wasn't the only one.
You walk in, get searched, fill in some paperwork at the front office window. Then he tells you go in the room and wait for your name. You go in the room, which had about 50 people/seats and a cheesy US State Dept video about fingerprinting and America and you wait for a long time in some plastic chairs.
Then you go in the other room and the guy stamps some paper and sees your passport. This guy told me "more money for us" when I asked why DU demands this paper.
Then you go back in the waiting room.
Then you go and pay when they call your name. The guy refused one of my 20 dollar bills because it was missing a corner (very slight) - make sure you bring nice clean and new money. He also refused payment in mixed currency, so I had to use up all my syrian pounds to pay.
Then you go back to the waiting room and wait for your name.
Then you go to window #1, a lady makes you raise your hand and swear that everything in your passport is true (wtf!!!) and then she gives you the paper for the university.
I have heard other embassies are not so crowded/don't care so much about this paper and other nationalities don't have the extended waiting time. Some people didn't have to get this special letter.
Overall it wasn't a bad experience, besides the waiting, and it only took a little over an hour I think but felt like a year.
On to the AIDS Test!
us consular affairs open 8-10 am Sunday - Thursday
every taxi knows where it is 'safara al - amrikiya' in arabic.
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