I made one big planning mistake before I left in August. I planned to be in Europe/ the Schengen zone for 120 days on a tourist visa. And for anyone who knows about the Schengen agreement, would have been able to inform me that this is illegal. You can only be here for 90 days out of every 180 day cycle in a year. I realized this after I arrived in Sweden and freaked out, calmly. This year is about being open and flexible, so I had to develop some backup plans, and alternative visa possibilities. After a lot of hard work, waiting in many German government offices, trying to go to the German embassy in Sweden were they thought I was stupid because I didn’t know how to take a number from a machine, and reading every ex-pat blog that ever was written, I can now say with great relief that obtained a German Visa and I am legally able to stay in Europe until the middle of December. It was an interesting experience feeling possibly “illegal” in a country where I so wanted to stay, and I have learned a lot from this. The main point is that I am very lucky to be able to support myself this year (my Watson money in my bank account being the main reason the German government let me stay). The visa is on a condition that I will continue not to work while in Germany because I already am self-sufficient. This was an especially interesting moment to be going through this with the current refugee crisis. It’s obviously a completely different situation from mine, but the feeling of wondering if you can be accepted in a different country is the same. I can’t imagine what this would have been like if I didn’t speak some German, already have means of substance, have the support of many friends in Berlin including my roommate who went with me to the interview, or a back up plan to go somewhere else. There are 4,185,302 registered refugees from Syria as of October 4th. I hope some people are giving them a smile and being nice to them today, even if they won’t be staying where they are right now for long.
And to celebrate my Visa I helped plant over 500 tulip bulbs on the graves on Berliners in the Alter Friedhof St. Marien – St. Nikolai. This project was organized by the Die (Kultur-) Gärtner, or “culture gardeners.” They have no family relation or connection to the graves, but they are interested in keeping this old cemetery a part of Prenzlauer Berg. When these flowers bloom in the spring I will be in Australia!