Travel Mishaps 101: “Overstay” in (EU) Schengen country

French flag

If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit. –William J Clinton

I “exceeded” (sounds better to hear than “overstay”😉 the days allowed for me to stay in EU Schengen country for less than a week. Okay, this mishap has been successfully settled🙂. I have mentioned somewhere in my previous post that I was stuck in Paris for almost 3 weeks. My planned trip to Israel was not push through. That time this was the best possible option for me so as not to overstay in the Schengen country as I don’t need a visa in Israel. Another which, thankfully pushed through was the travel to Morocco – a visa free as well for Filipinos. Kosovo is another alternative, the only country in Europe that I could go for visa-free but I was discouraged by some friends for security reasons as they mentioned. London is only 2-hour train ride from Paris but visa processing would take 15 days as per enquiry of a friend.

The bottom line is I was not able to travel anywhere after the saga sickness that I got from Morocco. It’s as if I was forever stuck in Paris. Only to have a crestfallen realization that Paris after all, isn’t really a glamorous place to live. For a tourist, it could be very enticing, with the overrated Eiffel Tower, the impressive building architectures you find everywhere, the artists and artistic features of Montmartre, the most beautiful museum I’ve seen in the world – The Musee du Louvre, roaming around in the most expensive street of Champs Elysees, seeing the most famous monument of Arch de Triomphe, cruisin in the Seine river and a lot, lot more. Behind all these beguiling attractions are people living in the subway stations who hardly make both ends meet, beggars found everywhere, homeless people looking for food in the garbage, men and women jumping over the train entrance to get a free ride, people pushes you at the exit of substations so they can go inside for free. I experienced to be intentionally pushed and pulled at least 2 times and it was scary. People everywhere asking for money, playing flute or violin in exchange of money, a ubiquitous piece of paper to solicit something they claim for charity, people distributing their resumes to find a job. These are… This is the other side of Paris. It was an eye opener for me. But maybe a blessing in disguise, that I got stuck with bad illness in Paris because I learned after that France has one of the best health care systems in the world. Another mishap if I may add, I was traveling without a Travel Insurance! You can imagine how worried I was about the expenses that would be incurred as I was admitted (and confined) at the Emergency Room. Turned out, I only spend for the medicine that was prescribed by the physician.

This is the problem when I keep writing where my thoughts flow freely, I get excited and almost, if not always, I am guilty of veering away from the main subject of my post. Apologies.

 Going back to the topic😉

My 6-month tourist visa (180 days) only allows me for a 90-day stay in any Schengen country. The counting is accumulative. I used the same visa when I travel during summer of August. The 2 weeks has added up to the counting when I travel to EU again from October onwards. Visa extension does not allow as per condition of the short stay Schengen visa.

“The Schengen Regulation allows tourist trips for a maximum of 90 days only. There is no visa allowing you to visit Europe as a tourist for more than 90 days. –France Diplomatie

What I did

1) Given the restrictions of my short stay Schengen visa, I still search the internet for the possibilities of having a tourist visa extension. A friend, help as well to write to several authorities to enquire but unfortunately there was no luck.

2) I wrote to the French Embassy of Singapore and explain to them on a verbatim basis the sequence of events that happened and the current situation I have to face but I didn’t get any response. Not until I show up in person upon my return and learn ONLY that I was sending it to  the wrong email address.

3) I did try to leave EU but the possibilities were blurry as I was hospitalized again for the 2nd time.

4) After I showed up in person at the French Embassy, a week later I received an email that they take note of my condition. And to quote, I should not “reiterate the same situation again”.

I take it as a clear signal that my EU backpacking was over. The plans and possibilities of extending had been changed forever. (Note: Call it luck, I found an opportunity to work as an English tutor to a college student in the Alps region. Perhaps I will make a separate post about it). My main objective then was to go back home to be with my family and have that much needed emotional support and care. And possibly accept the opportunity that was offered to work again in Singapore.

Lessons Learned

Communication is crucial. It can either break us or make us. We’d always hear negative stories that would often discouraged us. Part of my core values – that is to live with integrity and have the courage to admit when I do wrong. The latter is often difficult to put into practice. While I am not a conformist, I always give others (be it an individual or authority) the benefit of the doubt. I think it is important to stand for something even when everything appears to be against all odds. Though I may feel too vulnerable in situations like this, I’ve discovered a kind of strength I’ve never thought I had before.

I wish to share the email response of the French Embassy and excerpts of my communications with them.Travel Mishaps - Overstay in EU Schengen country (excerpt from my letters)Travel Mishaps - Overstay in EU Schengen country (response from the French Embassy)

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