A story of how I moved to Berlin on my own to work as a UX/UI designer - the visa
As I was telling on part 1 of this story, on October 24th, 2017 I received an offer to relocate to Berlin and work as a UX/UI designer in a start-up. And it was on that day that it actually began.
After the call I sent a message to my friends, who were really supportive during this entire process, cheering and encouraging me throughout the entire year. I said the happy hour already scheduled for that same evening would be a celebration. And it was, the first of many! At that time I didn't know yet, but those friends and farewell happy hours would give me a lot more than funny stories and hangovers. But that's another story.
To my family I decided to tell later. I knew it would be a mix of happiness, pride, sadness and worry-ness. Luckily my parents always encouraged me to go after my dreams, and I know that no matter how much they miss me, they're happy for me. And I am truly grateful for that!
As another happy coincidence (if there is such a thing), a few weeks before receiving the offer, I found out that a colleague from another department was also moving to Berlin. Thanks to some internal projects (ah Leisure Committee!) we talked a lot and I told her I was going trough some hiring process for Berlin as well. That was a nice coincidence!
She's not a designer, but she went trough the same things I did. All the waking up early, the anxiety and hard work. As soon as I received my offer she gave me a lot of tips about the visa, the moving process and the city, which she already visited once. That made my life a lot easier!
Little did we know we'd become neighbours in just a few months.
As soon as I accepted the offer the crazy visa process started. Luckily, with all my friend's tips, I had already organised all documents needed. And, luckily 2, the girls (yes, girls!) responsible for my relocation were great and helped me with the entire bureaucracy part while I was still in Brazil, and also after, when I was already in Berlin. There is a lot of information online about how to apply for a work visa for Germany, so I won't post all the details here, only what happened with me.
I put all the documents together and sent to Germany along with my contract signed. While I was waiting for the approval from the German government, I scheduled a time in the German consulate in my city. I was lucky (again) and found a slot for November 19th. It would be enough time to have all the paperwork from Germany in hands.
In the meantime I started thinking about travel dates. On my contract we predicted I was gonna start working on December 1st. I knew I should wait for the visa, but I also knew all the visas issued in my city's consulate were being approved really fast. So I bought the flight ticket to November 30th. It would be perfect, my last day at the current work would be on the 23th, so I'd have time to rest, pack, watch the final of the Libertadores with my family and say goodbye to my friends.
Little did I knew.
My work permit was approved on Monday and the relocation girls sent it to me by post. My appointment at the consulate was Friday that same week, at 8 in the morning. At about 4 in the afternoon of the day before I hadn't heard anything from post delivery yet. I was tracking it and they were already in my city, but hadn't left for delivery. I called the post company and they said it would be delivered the following day.
But I couldn't wait! My appointment was at 8am next morning. There was no other time slot available on the consulate for that month and I couldn't postpone it.
It’s just another rock on my way, I thought: “It’s not gonna be now that I’m gonna give up, or go crazy over a small challenge". Controlling my anxiety, I called again. They told me I could pick the package there before 6pm. Of course it was on the other side of the city and I couldn’t just leave work and go there. Continue keeping control of my anxiety. Thank god for motorcycle delivery service!
Ok, all good, all documents in hand, the originals and the 2 copies of each the consulate asks for. Nothing else could go wrong.
In the consulate you basically have two talks. The first person looks at your papers and checks if everything is ok. The second asks you a few questions, takes your finger prints and gives you a feedback on your visa.
"In your degree is written 'Visual Designer', but in Germany your equivalent graduation is Graphic Design. It doesn't match. You're gonna need to recognise your degree".
I wasn't exactly those words, I got so nervous I completely forgot what the guy said. But that was it. I would need to make the recognition process for my degree. Even tough I had the approval from the government to work in Germany, I would not get a visa in my passport without recognising my diploma.
I left, got an UBER and immediately sent a message to the company handling my relocation. They couldn't believe it either. Normally the government would not approve my papers if I needed to do the degree recognition process. They contacted the consulate trying to reverse it, but there was nothing they could do.
And the second crazy phase started. Again, a lot of anxiety control.
In this process I lost two more weeks and a lot of money sending post mail to Germany. The company postponed my start to January 2018 and I changed my flight to Christmas Eve, with the hope of staying a few days with my cousin in Munich before starting to work.
Little did I knew, again.
They told me my visa would be approved as soon as I sent them the degree recognition by e-mail. So as soon as I received it I sent the details to the consulate, as requested. But it was almost Christmas, and they were probably too busy to handle all e-mails. Or just on holidays' spirit already. All I know is that I didn't get an answer.
My anxiety was as higher as ever, I was filling my time with cellphone games, playing with my cats and studying german. If I had guessed I would've stayed working for one more month. Every penny earned made a difference for me, and I was only spending money by that time.
I enjoyed my time with my friends (miss you Prinz), watched the World Championship FIFA and spent Christmas with my family. I went to the End of the Year party of my previous company, and made 2, 3 farewell parties.
I left "in the hands of God". I stoped thinking about it. What was meant to be, would be. And it was, it truly was. It ended up being a really great month, that gave me amazing surprises that I brought with me to Germany and changed my life afterwards. In the end, the delay was one of the best things that happened to me.
As I didn't receive any feedback yet on my Visa, after Christmas I changed my flight again, this time to New Year's Eve. There was no direct flights available anymore and all other options were more than two times the first price I paid. Thank god for credit card and instalments! I would be refunded by the company later, but the flight ticket was twice the value in the contract so it wouldn't be enough anyway.
On December 28th, Thursday, the consulate called me. "When do you plan to travel?" Sunday, I said. "Ok, you can come and pick your passport tomorrow morning, we're gonna finish it now".
As we say in Brazil, at the 50th minute of the second half! After 1 month of delay. After I updated my work contract. After two flight changes. After changing the booking of my temporary apartment. After re-scheduling apartment visits. After spending a lot more money than planned.
I could finally go. I could go live my dream! And on New Year's Eve.
A new year, a new life. Literally.
(to be continue...)