Wednesday, April 27, 2011

France Day Four

Note: I've posted all of my France entries on their respective days, so look below for those!

My final day in Lille was centered locally- Megan and I went to the local art museum, then to a bookstore, where it took everything in me not to buy some books. Not too much to say about those destinations- they were museumy and storey :p

When I got to the train station to catch the Eurostar back to London, Megan and I said goodbye when my platform was announced. She had told me that they were very strict about people coming back into England, but I wasn't worried. I got through the first check with no problem, filled out my immigration card, and took it to the window. The woman on the other side was nice at first, but the more she looked at my card, the sterner she grew. Suddenly, she started asking me rapid-fire questions: why was I in England for five months? Where was I studying? Did I have papers confirming this when I came in January? What was the date I arrived in January? How long was I in France? On what date did I get there? What date was I leaving England? Why that date?

This was when it started getting weird. After all of these questions were finished, she launched into an actual lecture, gazing at me coldly the whole way through. "I'm not going to give you too much trouble about this," she said. "But you need another visa." "Excuse me?" I stammered. I'd checked my visa a million times to make sure it was the right one. Getting a visa takes a really long time to do, and I couldn't believe I needed a new one. I pointed at the writing in my passport. "I have one, right there."
"That's a student visa," she snapped. "That only allows you to be in the country for less than six months. If you're leaving on the 11th of June, you're overstaying by a good number of days. You should leave on the third."
"So make sure you're out of the country by the eleventh."
"I will be, but isn't-"
"This is very serious, but I'm going to let it go right now."
At this point, under the counter I was adding up the number of months from January to June on my fingers. Each time, I came to five. But whenever I tried to tell the woman this, she just glared at me and wouldn't let me speak. Eventually, she said, a final stern, "All right?" and I said, "Yes. And, I'm sorry, but... isn't January to June only five months?:
She seemed to be holding herself back from rolling her eyes at me as she opened her own hand and started to count on her fingers, making sure I could see what she was doing. When she landed on the fourth April-to-May finger, her smirk vanished and she looked up at me, wide-eyed. "I'm so sorry," she said. "Maths isn't my best subject." I wanted to stick my tongue out at her and blow a raspberry, but instead I said, "It's all right. It's not mine either." After a few more profuse apologies, she let me go. There's nothing like the threat of deportation to make a day interesting :p

The rest of the journey back was considerably less dramatic. I sat next to an older British woman who was very nice and we chatted most of the ride to St. Pancras, during which time she asked me many questions and told me all about her potted plants that had been stolen and how she, too, was hiding from the wedding tourists tomorrow. I got back to my room around nine and now it's past 2:30 a.m. and I am going to bed!


Anonymous said...

I do not know why, when we travel, we cannot have a boring time. When others get from point A to point B without any added excitement... we have to increase our heartrate at least once. hmmmm.... glad you were able to get to all your destinations after catching your breath.

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