How Persistent Are You? Three lessons from an immigrant.

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How are you wrapping up the year?  Buried under a mountain of Q4 spreadsheets?  Take a quick trip to Ireland with me and get a few handy managing tips on the way!

My husband and I are in line at Immigration.  In front of us is a girl from New Zealand who has been accepted to medical school here in Cork, Ireland.   Behind us is a man from India who works for the Apple offices just outside of town.

It’s a little after 1PM, and although the windows won’t re-open until 2PM, there is already a long queue.   My line-mates and I are near the front of the line. We were prepared and got here early.  We know the drill because each of us have stood in this line before.

We’re  in Ireland because my husband is enrolled in a PhD program at University College Cork.   To be legal, we must file the proper paperwork with Immigration at the Garda (police) station.   Each previous occasion, the Immigration Officer has politely but pointedly turned us away.  This is our third time in the line.

The first time we didn’t show proper proof of financial independence.  We had brought our American bank account statement thinking it would suffice.  But the officer informed us the money needs to be deposited in an Irish account instead.

Like having money in a national bank, many of the hurdles put before us make sense logically, but strain us emotionally as we must reprioritized other obligations and spend the inordinate amount of time needed to clear them. Throughout this process, I am reminded of three important lessons in persistence.

  1. Keep Your Cool. It took us one full week and more than a handful of daily phone calls to assorted customer service representatives to find a way to transfer the large amount required from Bank of America to the Bank of Ireland without incurring outrageous transfer fees.  Each rep seemed to have his or her own set of knowledge about what options, or lack thereof, were at our disposal.  At one point, a representative told me it would be impossible to transfer our own money from our account without being in the US to do so.  It was also maddening to be forced through seemingly endless automated phone-tree systems “press option 406 for international banking services…” while watching the sands of your Irish cell phone’s minutes go ticking away.  Yes, I confess,  I lost my temper at more than one point.  Thankfully my husband pointed out we could buy credit on Skype and make the calls for a fraction of the cost.  Ultimately, with 40-minutes of help from a tech bank representative and my husband’s best friend who lives in Portland, we secured the transfer.
  1. Never Assume. The second time we stood in the line, armed with our now fattened Bank of Ireland statement, we thought we were ready. However, we had apparently filled-out a wrong form (they wouldn’t give us the proper one there. We had to get it directly from the university).  Our still very polite Immigration Officer also did not think our health insurance qualified.  Yikes! We assumed the girl at the university’s graduate counter had handed over the proper forms.  And we just assumed our chosen insurance-provider would be qualified. But we hadn’t asked direct questions needed to get reassurance. We had  And, no, I’m not going to tell you what happens when you do that. 😉 
  1. Have A Trusted Partner.  Depending on your situation, these hurdles may not seem too overwhelming to you, but there were many times I felt like tossing up my hands and giving up.  We’ll just be undocumented!  No problem!  Fortunately, when I got fed-up making calls, my husband stepped in. When he didn’t feel like dealing with the Irish health insurance company, I did it.  Turns out they did qualify. Encouraging each other made a lot of the difference in completing what then seemed like an insurmountable mountain of paperwork.

So, there you have it! A few quick reminders and tips to help you keep on hanging on and hanging in with that BIG project you have looming before you!

With our daughter Lulu this weekend at her first birthday party in Ireland -  after we managed successfully through immigration! Look at our smiles! :)
With our daughter Lulu this weekend at her first birthday party in Ireland – after we managed successfully through immigration! Look at our smiles! 🙂

As for us, the third time was a charm.  We stepped up to the window and were met by that same polite officer.  She approved our documents, typed in our information and snapped our photos.  We can pick up our official legal Irish immigrant cards next week.   Of course, it means we’ll have to stand in line again.

But that’s okay!

Copyright 2014 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.

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