Feb 5, 2011

Let IN or kicked OUT...that was the question

Because of my 3rd knee surgery (see this post), I couldn't head back to the UK at the same time as Josh.  I thought I would love being at home for an extra two and a half weeks (and of course it was nice), but I missed Josh a lot and I was jealous that he was back in Newcastle with all of our friends.  I couldn't wait to get back.  But there was one thing standing in my way...besides an obvious 10 hour airplane ride, IMMIGRATION CONTROL at London Heathrow. 

For most SGU students and spouses, this wouldn't be a problem, you show your passport, your year long VISA, and in you go.  However, I have NO VISA.  Because Josh and I got married in late June last summer, by the time I received my new passport with my name changed on it, there was only one week left until our flights left for the UK.  Not nearly enough time to get a VISA.  I thought about pushing my flight back so that I would have time to get one before I left, but honestly, I didn't trust that Josh would find a flat acceptable enough to me without me being there.  Yes, I know, the important things, VISAS vs. places to live.  Anyway, they let me into the country on six month visitor clearance, which was fine because we planned to go home for Christmas anyway. 

My original plan was to apply for a VISA when I got home at Christmas time, however, after looking at the cost of VISAS (about $400+), and seeing how much time I was actually going to be back in the UK (less than 4 months), I reasoned that since I left the country for almost 2 months, how could they not let me back in?!?  This theory seemed well thought out until the week before I was going to head back to the UK and I started to panic.  I kept thinking, "Oh my goodness, they are going to reject me in London and send me on the first plane ride back to the states.  What was I thinking?!"  At this point, it was too late to apply for a VISA, and I had already paid to push my return flight back once due to my knee surgery, so I decided to just give it a go.  I have never been more nervous on a flight.

As I got off the plane in London, my heart was racing and I was so anxious to just get to the immigration line where I would see the person who would determine my ultimate fate.  As I was pushed (I was in a wheelchair) toward the woman behind the glass, I smiled and said "Hello!"  and she said in a monotone voice "hi."  So intimidating!  I thought to myself, "This is not going well already."  She grilled me with the normal questions, "What are you doing here?", "When are you planning to leave?", "Who are you visiting here?", and then came the tough questions.  "Why didn't you get a VISA in August?", "Why didn't you get a VISA in December?", "You've been here a long time already."  I thought for sure she was going to take me to some back room where they locked me in like a possible terrorist and then sent me back stateside ASAP.  I wanted to scream at her "Just tell me already!!!  Take me out of my misery of the unknown!!"  I also really wanted to say to her, BELIEVE me, I don't want to live here permanently, I am a CALIFORNIA SUN kind of girl.  After about 10 minutes of questioning, she looked at little me in my wheelchair, and she stamped my passport.  Six more months baby!!! 

I wouldn't suggest taking a gamble like this to anyone else. But I was very thankful it worked out the way I had hoped.  I arrived in Newcastle airport as planned, and Josh was there waiting for me with open arms.  I am so glad to be back here in the UK with Josh.  Term 2 is already weeks underway, and I can't believe we have less than 4 months before we leave this country.  I intend on enjoying all my days here and taking full advantge of what the UK has to offer.

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