I was so sure that we had no chance of getting into Stugan, that I didn’t bother incorporating it into my travel plans at all. I knew that the program would lie outside the validity period of my 90 day visa, but I adopted the “cross that bridge when we come to it” approach; fully expecting never to arrive at that particular bridge. Obviously I was wrong, and said bridge was now now becoming a very real problem.
I did a bunch of research and found a section on the German website explaining that a Schengen visa can be extended for exceptional reasons, for example, an unexpected business of professional opportunity. “Excellent!’, I thought, all I need to do is go back to Berlin and submit my application for the extension of my German issued visa. Stugan is basically the definition of an “unexpected business or professional opportunity”, so why would they turn me down?
I arrived back in Berlin and planned to visit the Ausländerbehörde the next day. I had extended my travel insurance, I had all documentation and forms filled out, and if I was lucky , this wasn’t going to be a huge detour from the rest of my travel plans.
Again, I was horribly wrong. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the awfulness German bureaucracy before, but now I’ve experienced it first hand. They really are terrible. The lady I spoke to wasn’t just unwilling to help me, she actually seemed determined not to. Almost immediately after I explained my situation she rudely told me that this had nothing to do with Germany and I should leave.
I was crestfallen. So far the trip had been nothing but a series a high points, but this was definitely a crushing low point. Luckily I have good friends to cheer me up and I didn’t stay disappointed for too long.
This was a major set back and so I immediately had to look for other options. I phoned and emailed and chatted to various embassies and immigration offices. I also chatted to several friends and after Jana from Stugan (who is super awesome and helpful, btw) spoke to the Swedish authorities on my behalf, it became clear what the next step had to be. I needed to book an appointment with Migrationsverket and then go to Sweden to apply for a visitors permit. I looked at all the migration offices and they were all fully booked for at least the next week and half. All except for one appointment at 3:30pm the following day. In Gothenburg.
So I booked an early morning flight from Berlin to Gothenberg via Brussels and set about madly scrambling to get all my paperwork in order for the application. Seeing as I had basically just come from Sweden, it would have been easier if I had known Germany would be this difficult. I could’ve just stayed in Copenhagen and booked an appointment in Malmö. Anyway,I had three hours of sleep before embarking on my day trip to Gothenburg.
After a decent hike across town to the Migrationsverket office, I sat and waited for them to call my number for 3 excruciating hours (apparently the time-slot of your appointment is irrelevant). I can’ t tell you how anxious I was about this appointment after the disaster of Germany and then an expensive flight to Gothenburg.
Much to my relief the appointment went smoothly and I successfully submitted my application. Apparently after a week or so I could expect a response (physically mailed to Jana in Stockholm). So I still don’t know the outcome yet, and I’m still really nervous about it, but at least I’ve done what I can for now.
After the appointment I found a coffee shop to occupy while I tried to organise a place to sleep. Eventually I found an affordable hostel about 45 minutes away by foot. I also found a bus back to Berlin for just 10 Euro, which seemed a no-brainer. I also decided to book a bus to Prague. I was determined not to get too derailed by all this stressful admin and I wanted to get right back in to fun travel mode. I had a few days to kill before my next commitment in Poland, so why not Prague?
Unfortunately this meant a rather grueling day and a half of travel. Gothenburg to Berlin is pretty far and takes an entire day by bus. I arrived back in Berlin around midnight, slept for slightly less than 3 hours and then got on another bus to Prague.
Those few days were intense. Less of those please. Also, sorry about the lack of interesting pictures. I was preoccupied with other things.