You can't always get what you want // But if you try sometimes well you just might find // You get what you need
On Wednesday I went to Migrationsverket, Sweden's immigration office, to see if I could extend my 90-day tourist visa to stay in the country a bit longer. How did it go? Well, let's just say that I have been drinking heavily since.
Since I came to this country on my own, I don't necessarily have close friends or family that are Swedish and could "invite" me to stay. (Even if I did, or even if I asked some of the friends I have made along the way to vouch for me, there are still the unanswered questions of of housing, employment, language, etc.) Wah wah. With that being said, the Migrationsverket employee wouldn't even accept my application and thus I must leave the country by November 2, or four days from now. I won't lie, I was very disappointed and I had to practically sprint out of the office so I wouldn't be caught ugly crying in front of a huge crowd of people. And despite preparing myself for this outcome, I was still a bit shocked and upset. For this past year, Sweden has been my my dream and focus; when I abruptly turned my life upside down to come here, I thought that if I wanted something hard enough and worked my butt off to get it, things would work themselves out. Cue The Rolling Stones, because maybe this is a sign from the universe that Sweden just isn't the right place for me at this time, and one can't always get what they want but they do get what they need. (Thanks, universe.)
From my experiences so far, I have learned a lot about Sweden and international traveling in general. Months ago, when I made the decision to leave the U.S., I knew nothing about the Schengen Area that includes Sweden, or that I could only stay for 90 days over a 180-day period in the area. I honestly thought that I could cross the border and come right back, although in hindsight having that bit of knowledge would not have changed anything I did. So lesson learned. Other lessons learned? As I mentioned in my previous post, it is extremely difficult to come here as I did and work to assimilate oneself because the job market is difficult (if not impossible) to tap for non-Swedes. The other night I went to an international-oriented professional networking event, and foreign-born doctors and teachers in the audience talked about how the Swedish government claims to desperately need professionals like them but doesn't prioritize hiring them, thus allowing them to wait for up to four years for their credentials to transfer. Other people I talked to mentioned searching for jobs for years. All-in-all, not very encouraging.
I have realized that it's almost impossible for someone like me to come to Sweden and magically start a new life. Some people may call me idealistic for giving up everything to come here and start over from scratch on my own, but I don't regret what I have done and feel that it has laid the groundwork for where/what I will do next. Now comes the fun (and dreaded) part where I research a place in this world that is welcoming for people in my situation. (Australia? Canada? Singapore??) Yet as adventurous as this sounds, I hope that I don't end up in a never-ending Eat, Pray, Love-type situation.
I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. While this school of thought doesn't make crappy situations any less crappy, it provides hope and motivation to keep moving forward. And while it's easy to stress about next steps, huge gaps in my professional resume, or how to globetrott with a dog, I have to look at my imminent move as an opportunity for personal growth and valuable life experiences. Onward and upward!