Posts Tagged ‘Visa’

One Year Warning.

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Yesterday was the one year mark for how much longer I have in the UK until I am kicked out (again.) Although I have realised I have chosen an excellent year to buy myself a student visa as I get a BONUS DAY on the 29th February! Sure, I will be in Holland on that exact day, but still. I’m quite pleased about this extra time I managed to weasel out of the British Government. Ha! A win for Jess.

Being one of those people who likes to reflect a lot about such things, the one year count down mark is a tad scary and somewhat (extremely) depressing. However, my previous experience with such things suggests I should keep on keeping on and simply ‘see what happens’. You never know. I might suddenly decide that I should do a PhD and become a Doctor in something useless. At least that way when I introduce myself as “Doctor Jess” as I sometimes currently do I won’t be lying quite so much.

This is, however, extremely unlikely as I have zero desire to do this. Although I never wanted to do a Masters either and I’m currently LOVING IT. Perhaps I should start saying that I really don’t want to be director of the Whitworth Art Gallery. It would be the WORST. Gosh, I really hope that never happens. Particularly not in the next 365 days.

Look out, England

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

The final piece of the ‘Get Jess back to England’ puzzle has been set – today I collected a package from the post office, walked to my car, opened it and felt a surge of utter relief (that appeared in the form of hyperventilation and a flood of tears). I have been granted my student visa and I can officially enter the UK without being arrested.

I realised I have been holding my breath for the past six months, not knowing whether or not this ridiculous plan would actually work. But somehow I now have a university placement, a visa, a plane ticket and a room to sleep in. And in 21 days I will start my next adventure. Holy mongolia.

I’m still here

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

I have realised that my blogging frequency has dropped significantly in the last few months. My apologies if this has affected anyone, although I suspect it hasn’t caused any great distress. I thought I would provide a brief overview of why I have become slack on the writing front.

Work.

I am up to Job #7 at the Subiaco Council and Job #6 required significantly more concentration and effort than jobs 1 through 5. I really enjoyed Job #6. But now I’m moving on. It is amazing how attached to a company you can become – I will now passionately defend the Subiaco town centre and argue against any negative comments that are made about it and its parklets. THERE IS PLENTY OF PARKING. Now stop complaining.

I have made lots of great friends at work which has been a massive bonus, and for some reason people seem to think that I know stuff about writing and whatnot. Strange but lovely. I’m going to miss these folk. Once again, I find myself in the position of having gained the friendship of such fantastic people and having to say goodbye. At least most of them say they’ll come and visit me, but I don’t think any have actually googled Manchester and looked at the weather forecast.

Visas.

My flight to Manchester leaves in 35 days. I am still uncertain as to whether or not I will be on it. Having finally received an application number from the University of Manchester, I was able to start my online application for my student visa. What I had expected to be a fairly straight forward process turned out to be a ridiculously complicated application. Why I thought it would be easy, I’m not sure as visa applications never, ever are.

There are always two or three questions that make absolutely no sense, have no explanation or require you to search through a 100-page document that is briefly mentioned in another form in order to find some sort of answer for it. If someone asked you “Do you have an existing presence in the UK?” what would you answer? Exactly. Thanks to an exceptionally helpful person in the visa office at the university, I think I have managed to complete the application correctly.

However I then needed to attend an ‘interview’ at a dodgy office on St George’s Terrace where I sat in a room full of swivel chairs waiting to hand over precious documents such as my passport. Every time I have been in this situation, I have left feeling like I won’t get the visa and that I have committed some sort of fatal error. People who work in visa application centres must have hours of training in the art of making people doubt themselves. Have I supplied all of the correct documents? Have I forgotten something? Is that an original or a photocopy? Is that really how I spell my name? Nothing is certain.

And so we wait.

Life.

The rest of my time has been filled with meeting up with friends, celebrating my Grandma’s 93rd birthday, spending as much time as possible with my family and giving guide-dog Eva lots of pats.

I’ve also started training for the City to Surf marathon. I thought that completing another marathon before I’m 30 would potentially be a good idea. The more I train for it, the more I question this logic. I ran 30 kilometres last Saturday and by kilometre ten I was ready to go home. However my plan of running a marathon in the morning of 30 August, having birthday drinks with my friends in the afternoon, turning 30 on the 1 September and then flying to Manchester two days later to start Jess’s Socially Irresponsible Adventure #328 is quite pleasing.

And that’s the crux of it.

The End is Nigh (Again)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Dear Scientists,

You’re a smart bunch of people. You have done some really neat things that have been particularly useful such as inventing computers, harnessing the power of electricity and finding cures for stuff. Do you think you could please invent a way of slowing down time? I would be most grateful.

Cheers for that.

Love Jess

So it would appear that time has done its thing and passed with rapid speed once again. The expiry of my UK visa is looming, becoming more and more real every time I wake up in the morning. Last Thursday it all became terrifyingly real when I bought my plane ticket home. The culmination of paying an excessively large sum of money for something that I didn’t necessarily want and the fact that I now officially have an end date AND time, made everything sink in.

Mum, Dad, don’t get me wrong – part of me is very excited to be coming home. I haven’t hugged my mum in 2.5 years, which for someone who thrives on Mum-hugs is a really, really long time. Plus I have heard rumours of this thing called a ‘sun’ that delivers ‘warmth’ – that all sounds rather good. Plus I can ride my bike, be babysat by my parents, see my friends and meet some of the new additions that have been produced while I have been away. All of these things are great. But I still don’t want to go.

I have had this feeling towards the end of all of my visas and it is the fear of change, the unknown, the “what the hell am I doing with my life?” that rears its ugly head as the days count down. At least this time I haven’t made myself sick, unlike when I returned to Perth to apply for Paris Visa #2 and spent the month before my departure with a stomach ache. Maybe I am getting used to it and learning that no matter what happens or how hard I try and slow down time, life soldiers on. There’ll be another great adventure and I just have to wait and see what it entails. Still sucks though.

Australia puddle

This puddle that looks a bit like Australia has been outside my office window for over a week. This is the most exciting part of my day.

This morning, like many mornings, the question of “Why didn’t I just settle in a normal job with normal working hours in a normal office cubicle doing something like marketing?”. Then maybe I would be like many of my friends who seem to have found their place in the world and who have real careers, babies, families, husbands, houses, mortgages and sanity. Or I would have gone nuts, smashed down the office cubicle in a fit of rage and run off to deserted island. Hmmm…

So perhaps I should just stop fighting the fact that I need change, I crave adventure and I don’t like sitting still. I always want more, more, more and the purchase of this plane ticket is just that – it is the start of Jess’s Great Adventure #4 and the search for something more. I just wish I didn’t have to pack up all of my possessions every year or two. Fun fun fun.

365 Days Left

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Yesterday (30 January) marked one year until I am to be kicked out of the mother country. For awhile there I thought my Visa would expire two years from my date of entry into the country but apparently not. I have been gypped 29 days of British residency because I planned in advance and applied for my visa before I really needed it. Damn you, Home Office.

It is remarkable how much of a difference knowing that I only have a year left makes. For the last month I have been toying with the idea of going back to Australia early as my inner need to settle, build nests, grow roots, get a mortgage and spend the rest of my life paying it off reared its ugly head. Now that I have reached the ‘One Year Left’ milestone I have switched modes and am now fretting about what to do next and how to make the most of my time in the UK. I can feel a list and a count down calendar coming – every day I have to do something new/fun/exciting/ different/dramatic/scary/boring. That’s easily achieved and will make me feel like I haven’t wasted yet another year ‘finding myself’ by running away to a foreign country. Good plan.

So yesterday to celebrate the milestone, I worked all day. Brilliant. However, to add some excitement and festivity to the day, I did the one thing that I know will always bring happiness to my day – I ate food. I tried a new recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s brilliant cookbook Veg Every Day. Hugh’s recipes never disappointment me and his spicy carrot and chickpea pitta pockets were brilliant. Butter, cumin, carrots and chickpeas – happiness wrapped up in bread.

Mmm… tasty.

Mmm… tasty.

I spoiled myself with a sticky toffee pudding for dessert, on special from Sainsburys. While my inner food snob tells me off for enjoying supermarket puddings, it was really good. And I have another one waiting for me in the fridge for another night.

Not bad, Sainsburys. Not bad at all.

Not bad, Sainsburys. Not bad at all.

Top o’ the Mornin’ to Yer

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

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!

Visiting the Mother Country

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Recently my seat allocation on trains has been very disappointing. I always request a window seat where possible but my past few train rides have had me either facing backwards, in the seat next to the wall between two windows, or the countryside was so covered in fog that I couldn’t see anything anyway. But not this time – I am currently in a winning position on my train from Sheffield to London with a huge window view in a forward direction, the sun is setting and there’s no one sitting next to me. BOOM! WINNER!

Train view

So pretty.

My Christmas and New Year break in Sheffield has come to an end in the alarmingly sudden fashion that all holidays seem to have. I can’t really call it a holiday – more a volunteering mission where I participated in the rewarding and particularly humanitarian activity of providing baked goods to the British. It is nice to have my brother living so close by as my desire to have family members around continues to increase. Ben’s business partner, Martha, and her family treat Ben and I like long lost relatives and fed us three meals involving pork on Boxing Day. I don’t think I’ve eaten that much pig in so many different forms over such a short a period of time in my life.

I am starting to really like England – a few years ago when I was contemplating moving to Europe I was adamant that I would never live in England. Far too many Australians live there, they speak English and it rains too much. But now that I have spent some time there and have eaten more sticky toffee puddings, beef and mushroom pies, and random wild birds in delicious sauces, I am starting to see its positives. And while some have very strange accents, terrible hair cuts and worse dress sense, the British are generally all very friendly, relaxed and hilariously polite. They also say weird things like “Ta-rah” and call you “Love” a lot, but you’ll be pleased to hear that I had Martha and her brother saying “Hooroo!” after just five days of my stay.

Mmm... sticky toffee pudding...

Mmm… sticky toffee pudding…

I have also come to realise that the only reason why the rain is an issue for me is because I am never appropriately dressed and therefore getting wet and stepping in mud puddles is an unpleasant experience. Ben and I went for a walk through forested areas of Sheffield towards the Peak District, and we passed lots of Brits wearing gumboots or heavy-duty walking shoes and EVERYONE made a rustling sound in their plastic, waterproof jackets. It dawned on me that I, too, could own some gumboots (preferably red with white stripes or spots) and waterproof clothing and then I would be able to walk straight through the giant mud puddles like a five-year old. It would be brilliant! I am now overwhelmingly excited about this concept.

Foresty. Well... nearly.

Foresty. Well… nearly.

While in Sheffield I decided to start applying for a UK visa, not completely certain that I am allowed to do so from France. Hidden deep within a PDF that you are told you have to read on about page two of the application, was a small note that essentially says that yes, I can apply from France. Well, thank you for telling me, UK Immigration department. Greatly appreciated. So if all goes well, on 1 March I will move to England. Where exactly, I’m not sure but Ben has offered me his lounge room floor which is much better than a cardboard box under a bridge. Things are looking up.

Very Confusing.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

There have been many moments during my time in Paris where I have felt the need to slap myself because that is the only way I could possibly come back to earth and be able to reassess what was happening. One of those moments is right NOW. Allow me to vent.

After having received my Visa to live in Paris for another year, I returned to France and then had to send another stack of paper into the immigration department. Despite fellow Visa-Applicants telling me that I wouldn’t hear back for months, I received a letter in the mail saying they had received my pieces of paper and that they may, or may not, contact me again. Excellent.

Yesterday I was having a really great day – the sun was shining, I had started a new sewing project, everything was oh-so-lovely. I then went to my local indoor markets to buy food for dinner where I am fairly certain the vegetable shop man cursed on me by trying to hit on me while selling me carrots. After he had asked me if I lived far from here and if I lived alone, I then quickly paid and returned home. Upon my return, I checked the mail and discovered two letters – one from Orange, my useless telephone company, and the other from the immigration department. Wow.

The Immigration department appear to be working in some sort of super-speed power drive because they had already set a date for me to go and have a medical examination, hand in more pieces of paper and be interviewed, and this date is next week. WHAT ON EARTH?! Since when did any sort of bureaucratic process in France happen so quickly? Anyway, the big problem is that I will be in England on the allocated date and therefore cannot have my lungs x-rayed. So today I rode down to the Immigration office to ask whether or not I could change the date.

The office has the appearance of a shelter or squat and is an old, dirty, concrete building that clearly no one cares about. Only foreigners have to go there so why invest money in it? The security man at the door did a thorough check of my bag before asking what I was needing. When I explained that I wanted to change the date of my appointment, he said I have to wait until AFTER my appointment to make a new date. I looked at him like he had just told me the Queen of England is really a man and questioned whether or not I would get in trouble if I didn’t turn up to my appointment. No, it’s fine. Right.

Most of my brain believes that there is no way this can really be true, but there’s part of me that realises I am in France and so there is a high probability something this strange could be the case. I have spent the afternoon trying to call the office and get a second opinion but no one is answering the phone. At first I thought it was just lunch time but now I am thinking it is an exceptionally long lunch. Oh, and their website isn’t working properly so I can’t look at that either. I love France.

The BEST News Ever

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

FANTASTIC NEWS, EVERYONE!!! The French government have considered the pros and cons of allowing me to re-enter their country and they have decided that I consume enough food to keep their economy going and therefore have been granted a Visa! After waiting two very long weeks, plus numerous months before that worrying about whether or not I would be accepted, I am so glad to finally have the little green sticker in my passport. This means I have another year to live, eat and breath Paris. I can’t wait.

Eiffel Tower

Paris – home of tall things, including me.

And? How Did it Go?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Sorry! I have been very slow with my updates recently… and I know you’re ALL hanging out to hear how my adventures in the world of The French Embassy went. Well, wait no longer! The moment has arrived.

I have never been the biggest fan of Sydney – I find it a bit commercial and there are far too many people wearing suits. I’ve always preferred Melbourne as a “If I had to live anywhere else in Australia” option as it is far more artsy and relaxed. But French bureaucracy and the fact that my best friend lives there, have resulted in me visiting Sydney numerous times over the past few years. I spent a weekend hanging out with my friends and we spent most of that time near Glebe – one of the more down to earth and small-community areas of the city. It was fun and nice to catch up with Gill again. But then Monday arrived and after a somewhat restless sleep the night before, I triple checked that I had all of the required pieces of paper for my visa and set off for Market Street.

The French Embassy is located in an awful tower block in the middle of the city and I really don’t understand why they force people to come and visit because surely the French would be ashamed at the lack of pizzazz their embassy holds. It is hardly palatial or impressive and really could be the offices of any old business. Anyway, I arrived ahead of schedule and was called up before my official appointment time of 10am. Things were progressing similar to when I first applied for a visa a year ago.

I had a woman interview me from behind a thick piece of glass. This made it particularly difficult to hear her although most of the time she was gossiping with her colleague in French. This had happened last time and so I was prepared for the lack of attention. I used all of my ear strength to follow the conversation and joked along with them when I realised they were talking about me. Oh yes, French Embassy People, I speak your language.

I have to say that I think the fact that I could speak French helped me win a few votes of approval and I responded to all of her questions in French to show just how much I like France and French culture. She went through my papers occasionally asking me questions and half listening to the answers. There were moments of panic when I thought maybe she wouldn’t be happy with my answers or that I was missing pieces of paper but in the end she took my finger prints and photograph, shoved pieces of paper into my passport and walked off saying “C’est bon.”

I took this “C’est bon” to mean “I will take your application and it is likely that you will receive a visa within the next few weeks.” When I asked about the time frame, I received a shrug of the shoulders, a roll of the eyes, and a very French, “Booofffffff…. About two weeks.” SUCCESS!

I walked out of the Embassy and searched for a paper bag to stop my hyperventilation (not really… but almost) and jumped around a little and smiled a lot and there may have been one or two tears. Nothing is certain yet and I am still waiting anxiously for the postman to arrive in his white van to deliver my passport but I am feeling significantly more confident. The fact that they accepted my papers is a huge relief and I am a step closer to being able to return to Paris for another year. I have heard stories from Tom and I have managed to miss so much over the past two weeks that I am keen to get back. I’m enjoying the beach and life at home with my folks here but there are so many more adventures to be had in France. Come ooonnnn Postman!