Painful Realities after my Visa Appointment at the DE Embassy

Late last month, I was in Germany for a vacation and for a personal appearance at their Standesamt to submit the documents needed for background check.

Back story: I have fallen madly, deeply, deliriously in love with a German national.

Coming from two bureaucracies, him from Germany, I from the Philippines, you can only imagine double the fun when we decide to live together and have both our countries recognize that decision. Many Filipino-German marriages know this all too well: the long, painful process.

I call it the long nightmarish road to together for good.

Months before the trip, we had planned on securing a schedule for a visa interview just to streamline the movement of documents. Having returned to the Philippines a fortnight later, I proceeded to the German Embassy to submit the marriage visa requirements.

My appointment was quick and easy. I had all the preliminary documents so all I did there was fill in some more details specific to my application, answer questions from the officer, and listen to the officer relay what we already know. The talk about the process was business as usual and was handled professionally, but to my ears it was a dagger in the heart.

Still a long road. Took this while we were walking at one of the parks in Düsseldorf.
Still a long road. Took this while we were walking on one of the parks in Düsseldorf.

Already in a long distance relationship, we’re looking at an indefinite 4 to 6 months for the visa to be released 
Why indefinite? Because only after my background check is finished and I am officially recognized as equivalent to the documents I have submitted will the visa processing move.

Note that each city in Germany would vary about the background check requirement during visa application. It so happens that Greg lives in a city that requires it.

Before it can move, there are documents that Greg has to complete for me then send over to the Philippines. With our current mailing system, this would already cost time.

Hence, 4 to 6 months is a comforting range to say for a waiting period; but in reality, it can stretch to a year with all the document back-and-forths.

A tormenting game of what ifs
One of the what ifs Greg and I discussed would be if we had been other nationalities. If he had been American or British, lodging a visa application for the purpose of marriage wouldn’t have been this long. And for him, had I been a different nationality, it will only take 4 to 6 weeks for my visa to arrive.

Choosing who to love based on ease of paperwork is possible but Greg and I have gone far down the road without considering it. How funny would it have been if we started out our first date by talking in detail marriage visa requirements and processes.

More Skyping, less hugging
If I strip a long distance relationship down to how it looks like many an evening, it’s two people from different time zones talking to a screen. There would be fights and tears but none of the reconciliatory hugs that follow when you’ve both simmered down and are ready to see reason.

Thinking about the next year or so interrupted by a few short weeks of him visiting in between leaves me in pain. There’s hundreds of days left ahead of me when I would be wide awake late in the night looking at our quickly aging pictures and trying to recall some of the things we shared together that are also fading in my memory.

Heading home after the visa interview had been the longest, loneliest walk I ever took. And for someone who liked walking, it was one of the few times I dreaded the experience. I never knew that the heart is capable of feeling literally torn apart and sore. For the first time, that day I fully understood what walking with a heavy heart felt like.

A warm summer night at Camden Town

We have a book. The chapters of which are waiting to be filled.

Happy, sad, funny, interesting… Regardless. What matters is that we have started this journey together with only the most heartfelt hope and resolve for our story to last.

I remember our first meeting. Peering through the window at the fourth floor where my apartment was, I made out a rough figure of a man wearing a casual white cotton shirt. My heart raced in anticipation. I made him wait outside for a while.

He must have stood there for half an hour. But he stayed.

We went on to have dinner at Camden Town. It was a lovely summer evening. He had fish to my pork ribs. Among the many differences we have.

We found ourselves counting  the small groups of women with one wearing a sash and a little veil walking about. By the end of the evening we have seen about three separate bachelorette parties happen just in the various streets around Camden where we roamed.

Months later I would never have thought that I would be working towards a life with him.

It was on a parking lot in a residential area where he took my hand. Before us were warmly lit houses with Land Rovers, Ferraris, and an assortment of vintage cars parked outside. Were we talking about cars or the architecture of that one building we saw? I can’t really remember. I just know that I was surprised by the warmth of his hands against mine.

I swear I must have been lit brighter and more warmly than any of those houses at that instance. He must have seen it too.

I did think, let’s go about this slowly
Mary Oliver

I did think, let’s go about this slowly.
This is important. This should take
some really deep thought. We should take
small thoughtful steps.

But, bless us, we didn’t.


Galway Kinnell: Wait

It is true that there is some romance in waiting. But it’s also true that there is an unfathomable anguish in it.

THE WAIT. I am reminded that things don’t move along when and how I want it. Because there is a natural flow. There is an order or chaos or inaction to how things happen.

And I have to respect that. That I am at the mercy of time.

I might inwardly scream through it. Grit my teeth through it. And some days writhe in pain and longing. But I have to wait. And strive to be graceful while at it.

It’s like being that child again from the jeepney, repeatedly asking her mother ‘are we there yet?’. This child will grow up and keep on asking that. And it will learn to not speak about it too loudly anymore.


Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.



A breather

Marcel Antonio’s Maiden with Flowers

All of the days preceding this week went by on a dizzying frenzy. It was a get up and get moving rhythm with barely a time to relish my mornings.

So this week’s break from class is a welcome pause.

I’d now have some time in my hands to do as I please, namely: watch a cooking show while sipping my tea, hunt down poets and read their poems over and over, and take my time in the shower. I have a few days to also sort out legalities and the dirty work that needs doing for my upcoming trips.

It’s looking like a lovely week ahead!


Photo Credits:
Antonio’s Maiden with Flowers, oil on canvas, 2000 under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

2016 scholarship for MA/PHD in Korea

Annyeong! Korea has once again opened its doors to international students with the annual Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP). This year, 817 slots will be open to international students.

A quick scan on their 163-page university information guide shows a wide spectrum of field of studies to choose from about 67 universities accepting KGSP grantees. One of the listed universities has an MBA program focused on digital business and a few other universities offer specialized MA and PHD programs on digital media and management. To those who are pursuing the humanities, engineering, natural sciences, and other fields of interest, there’s sure to be a program (or several!) that suits your fancy.

Being able to pursue graduate studies in a different country expands horizons and ways of thinking. It also, usually (if not always) by default, makes way for opportunities for learning, employment, and adventure!

All the best to those who decide to try for this and make sure to check out their site for more information on requirements and deadlines.

Photo (c) Seoulwoman