Application forms, bank records, medical checks, supporting documents, multiple trips to the consulate, letters of invitation and passport-sized photographs; if you’ve ever applied for something more than a tourist visa than you know what we’re talking about. Getting permission to move to a country feels like a full-time job, but it gives you more than just a travel document. It is the gateway to a whole new kind of family.
We are a part of an immigration family not because we are unique as Global Workers, but because we are expatriates. Immigrants face many of the same challenges: language learning, cultural adaptation, adjusting to how systems work, discovering which stores to shop at, memorizing the bus schedule. These experiences give us common ground.
There is a comradery that exists among those who live outside of their home country. Regardless of where you’re from, if you’ve moved internationally, you’re in!
During a visit to Canada from Slovakia, Matthew spent time with a friend who had 2 Korean exchange students staying with them. Though initially shy and reserved, it didn’t take long before before the students were lighting up with stories of their own as Matthew shared about some of his cross-cultural moments. The look on their face showed their surprise to hear a big, white guy relating with them about their shared experience as they all sat in a fairly mono-cultural Fraser Valley (BC) suburb. This brotherhood is a unifier.
While preparing all of our documents for our first visa to Poland, we needed a small forest of documents from our bank. The teller, who spoke English with a distinct Asian accent, was visibly annoyed as we asked for more and more paperwork with official looking stamps and signatures. In a moment of frustration she questioned why we needed these things. Upon hearing our explanation, which was tantamount to flashing our membership card in Club Expat, her alter ego stepped in. Suddenly she could not do enough to help us. She most likely was reliving her own experiences collecting piles of papers. This sisterhood is a door-opener.
And here we are again; back in the Old Country running the visa gauntlet because Polish law says we cannot run it from abroad. We guess we can’t all be EU Nationals and flit about the European Union as we please (dear Canada, please do consider bargaining your way into the Schengen Agreement). We know that as we stand in line, thousands of fellow expats around the world are doing the same. It’s just an immigration thing.