Wonderful, fantastic, overwhelmingly GREAT news, kids! I know where I am going to be living next month! I realise that I haven’t written about my last few weeks of Visa Adventures as I didn’t want to start writing about the injustice of visa applications until I had a visa in my hand. The internet is an easily searchable entity.
So at the start of January I completed the online application and paid for a two year travel/work visa for the UK. Then after collecting all of the required documents (including a bank statement that had to be stamped by someone from my branch in Claremont… ridiculous.) I went and handed them and my passport over to a French woman sitting behind a desk in a weird office in the middle of the suburbs of Paris. Upon receiving my documents, the woman told me that I couldn’t apply for the visa from France because I didn’t have a Carte de Séjour. NO WHERE on any document or webpage did it ever state that I needed a Carte de Séjour to apply – it simply said I needed permission to live in the country and have been here for over six months. Tick and tick.
She said I could still try and apply but I was likely to be denied. Considering I had already paid for the visa and my only other option would be to return to Australia and hand the same documents over there, I decided to give it a good old try and let them take my passport. And then I waited.
Through some sort of divine miracle or perhaps just some bloody good luck, two weeks and two days later I finally received a poorly written SMS from the Visa processing plant to say that I could collect my passport and documents. There was no indication if this meant I had been successful – it just meant I could get my passport back. To be honest, I just happy about this fact because giving away your passport when you have no other form of identification and your ability to return home relies on the possession of this document is quite unnerving.
I received the SMS at 11am and it clearly stated that the staff would be eating lunch between noon and 1pm and therefore shouldn’t be disturbed. If there is one thing that I have learnt while living in Paris is that you never, EVER interrupt a French person’s lunch break. Doing so will result in spit in your food/ the tearing up your passport/ instant death. So I waited patiently until the afternoon, repeating “You won’t get a visa. You won’t get a visa.” over and over in my head so that when I finally collected my passport and discovered I had been denied entry then there wouldn’t be tears.
When arriving at the Visa centre, two lovely security guards take away all of your possessions and you are then instructed to go to a waiting room. After 30 seconds, my number was called, I was handed a white envelope and then told to leave the building immediately. I had no idea if I had been given a visa or not – all I knew is that I had a white envelope and inside was something that felt like my passport. After collecting my bag, I went outside, sat on a bench and opened the envelope – all that was inside were the original copies of my documents and my passport. No letter, no nothing. So I flicked through the pages of my passport and then TRUMPETS and SINGING ANGELS and FIREWORKS and CHRISTMAS! There was a brand new visa with an awful photograph of me and words suggesting that I can live and work in the UK for two whole years!
Instantly my entire life changed and my world became a much brighter place with a potential future and exciting adventures ahead. I still don’t know exactly where I will end up but I am going to start in Manchester, the birthplace of my great grandfather and home to some of my extended family members.
I leave Paris on 28 February to start my new life in one of the rainiest cities in the world. I’m going to buy some wellington boots! YAY!