Two hundred Ninety-Seven Days in Limbo

At the surface, my life might seem ideal. I’ve spent the last 185 days in Europe, living a life I could have only dreamed of. In my head and my heart, my home is Stockholm, Sweden. This is partially because of the love-at-first-sight moment I had when I first visited this city two years ago, but mostly because my impulsive behavior led me to an impromptu visit three months after my initial visit that would then put me on the same path as my now boyfriend. Since that first meeting, we’ve been doing the long-distance dance I dreaded, especially since I was in my last year of finally finishing that long overdue Bachelor’s degree I had started back in 2006. We did the dance for nine months until finally deciding in June that I would apply for a residence permit to live in Sweden. It was June 21, 2016 to be exact.

I knew the wait time for a permit had increased since the influx of refugees Sweden has taken, but what I didn’t know was how hard enduring the wait time would be. At first it was fun and exiting, I had completed my degree in May and was now off to a European adventure in July– Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden! But July soon became October and the 90-day tourist visa had run out before having to return back to the States. Seattle, to be exact.

Well the story of Seattle is funny because you see, I could have had my adult life rolling once and for all, at the age of 28. A week or two before I returned to Seattle, I applied for one job. With that one application, I was asked for an interview. At that interview, I was given the job on the spot. How about that? And in the matter of a week, that job was revoked from me one day prior to seeing the space and meeting colleagues. Why? Because the day before I went to the job interview, I went to my interview at the Swedish consulate for my residence permit. At the end of my interview I was told that I should receive my decision for the permit in two-three months. TWO-THREE MONTHS?! Although I didn’t entirely believe it, I was filled with excitement. I don’t recall what exactly I said to the woman at my job interview, but I said enough about Sweden that she was skeptical about hiring me one week later. And that experience alone was enough to discourage me from putting any effort into attaining a “real job” while back in America.

I could only see the same thing happening again. And well, my life is in Sweden, I told myself, why start something here that I don’t plan on finishing. Before I knew it, it was time to return to Sweden anyway. The way the tourist visa works for U.S. citizens is that you’re allowed to stay 90 days in Europe during a 180-day period and as long as you spend 90 days out, you can come back again for 90 days. I was sure that during this time period I would get my residence permit for sure. Sweden was now taking lower amounts of refugees and the people in charge claimed to be aiming for shorter waiting times…

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