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Visa

Netherlands, Travel, Visa

Jack Goes to The Netherlands

Netherlands was the second country I’ve ever visited in my life aside from my home country which is the Philippines. The moment I arrived in Germany, I enjoyed some beer and currywurst then went to visit The Netherlands. It was drizzling and super cold but I cannot resist not to go there. First place in The Netherlands that I visited was in Maastricht. Very beautiful and calm.

Maastricht

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Roermond

A day after, I went on a shopping spree in Roermond, The Netherlands. Any designer brand that you could ever think of is there! Aside from that, almost everything’s on sale. You can get a decent Prada wallet for only PHP 5,000 – 10,000! I spent my whole month salary buying my family pasalubong. I love Roermond but it was dang cold!

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Keukenhof (Lisse)

Days after, I went to the Tulip Garden or the Garden of Europe. I’ve been looking forward to go here and finally, one of my dreams come true. The ticket costs 16EUR or almost 900 pesos to see the entire garden. Worth it but I wish, I visited this weeks later as the flowers have not yet come to its full bloom yet.

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Opinion, Personal, Travel, Visa

How to Make Visa Application and Traveling Cheaper

Traveling has been a very hot topic on social media. Everyone wants to go somewhere and travel. I can’t blame you – it’s addictive! Sometimes, I feel a lot of guilt with the money I’ve been spending on travel. My expense for my Eurotrip could be a downpayment for a car or a house and lot. However, those can wait. I’m not getting any younger and in the blink of an eye, I might already have my own family which will make traveling hard. So yup, travel, travel, and travel until I’m able.

Anyone can travel just as long as they have money. I don’t consider myself a special snowflake because I know that with enough budget, anyone can do it. It’s just that I’m blessed with a good job, an entrepreneurial mind, and guts which allowed me to earn money and to see the world.

I used to feel so uncomfortable disclosing how much I spent on my travel and visa application because I didn’t want to be judged. I know not everyone has the same traveling style so some might think that I spent an excessive amount or some might think that that’s too cheap and something sounds fishy. When people ask me how much I spent on my Eurotrip, I do not answer them with “I spent blah blah blah,” I would say “Prepare 350,000 to be on the safer side.” I didn’t want to share how much I spent because I didn’t want you to base how much you’ll bring based on my experience because unless you’re me, our expenses will be different.

However, please respect because my money is my money. I have worked hard for this and I can choose whatever way I’d want to spend it.

Anyway, to answer your question, here it is!

This year’s travel and visa application expenses

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Please note that all of these are just estimates. Especially with my Eurotrip, I estimated PHP 350,000 because that was the difference on my bank account before and after the trip. I’m just estimating how much I spent for this and that.

I don’t know about you but that’s cheap! I’ve been asked by a lot of people how I can afford to travel. Some even asked if I loaned in a bank or if I have a credit card. Fortunately, I only spend money that I have. I have PHP 0.00 debt in my life and that’s something that I am proud of.

I know a lot of people who spent a million on Europe for a month and PHP 60,000 on Thailand just for a few days!

So, how did I keep my traveling expenses and visa application at a minimum?

Click next!

U.S. EMBASSY MANILA TOURIST VISA INTERVIEW EXPERIENCE
Personal, Travel, Visa

US Tourist Visa Interview Experience Manila

My US Tourist Visa Interview Experience Manila

Once upon a time, it was my ultimate dream to go to New York City. All those high buildings, fancy streets, and that overall vibe. However, life happened; I matured and realized that there was more to life than NYC and what it is portrayed on the movies. I prioritized my European dream and worked hard to achieve it. Needless to say, my Eurotrip was the highlight of my whole existence. My USA fantasy went into the backburner but of course, I still want to have the option to visit it.

With all the horror stories I’ve heard from friends, families, and even on the Internet, I kept on delaying my plan to schedule an interview. They said that you need show money, land titles, cars, properties, businesses, and whatnots. The fact that I have just graduated a year ago, with less than 2 years in my current employer, single, no kids, and no properties, it was a risk to apply. Imagine PHP 7680 going down the drain in case I got denied? 

Because I’m me, I didn’t care; I just did it!

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You wouldn’t believe how many people told me that it’s super hard to get a US Visa and they also said that I should wait for a few years just to be sure. I don’t know but I’m that kind of person that I jump when it’s the scariest to jump. What’s to lose? I mean, yeah, the PHP 7680 but I can still earn that. I can reapply if ever I get denied so I have to do it.

The plot twist is: I have no ties there. I have my distant relatives but they’re first and second cousins of my mother and I doubt the consul will acknowledge that. All I have with me is my closest college friend and she’s the one I want to visit first. I asked for her permission to use her information in filling out the DS-160 form and she happily agreed. I LOVE YOU, ANNE!

US Visa Application Requirements

When I saw that they have an available interview on my preferred date, I immediately paid the visa fee via BPI Fund Transfer and waited 4 hours to activate the payment and confirm the interview date. I have less than a week from scheduling it to the actual interview and I didn’t do anything but secured the ff.:

  • Passport
  • DS-160 form
  • Appointment confirmation
  • Payment confirmation
  • Certificate of employment
  • Income tax return

That’s it! Remember what I told in my previous post that I have 150 pages of documents that I presented to the German Embassy? In US Embassy, it’s just that! The last two are not required but I brought it anyway just to be sure.

However, from the U.S. Embassy website, here are the things you should consider bringing:

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You can do the whole application yourself that’s why I am still wondering why there are people who pay for visa assistance. They do not guarantee approval, they’ll just do what you can do which is assisting you on what you should answer in the form – all of which you know yourself. It’s useless and a waste of money. If you can read and you’re not dumb, there’s no use of getting their service.

Now, on to my experience! Click next!

Germany, Personal, Travel, Visa

Schengen Visa at German Embassy Manila Experience

My German Embassy Manila Experience

I wrote this post to give you an idea on what to expect on your interview. For the steps on how to get your Schengen visa, check my post here.

My visa interview was March 2, 2016 10:30 AM-11 AM.

Since I work night shift, I went straight from work to the embassy carrying all the requirements with me. I live in Makati City and the embassy is just located in RCBC. It was a mere 30 minutes away but I decided to travel two hours before the appointment just to avoid the traffic. I arrive at the lobby around 9:00 AM the guard told me to come back around 9:50 a.m. They won’t let you loiter inside the building so you have to arrive just 30 mins before the interview time. I went to Moonleaf to buy a milk tea and just surf the net to kill some time.

Guys, my tummy was aching because I was so nervous. 

I didn’t even finish the large milk tea so I asked the staff if she could keep it inside their fridge and I’ll just come back later. LOL! I can’t be wasting any more money because this visa application alone cost me a lot!

I went back inside RCBC and went straight to the guard manning the German embassy desk. Then, I presented my visa appointment form they emailed on my account. They will confiscate your umbrella, laptop, and tablet before you go to the embassy itself. I left my umbrella and proceeded to the 25th floor of the RCBC Building.

When you arrived at the 25th floor, you will be greeted by two guards on your left side. Here, your bags will be checked and you will have to submit your declaration to the lady in the window. She will give a priority number and will ask you to proceed to the right side. There is a lady guard who will confiscate your phone, charger, power banks, etc. and will give you a small key for your locker. I went inside the interview section and surprisingly, there were less than 10 people. The one in front of me was a Chinese couple and they were interviewed for only 10 minutes. Then, it was my turn. Not verbatim but here are the questions asked:

Interview questions:

Jack: Good morning!

Consul: Good morning. Purpose of travel?

J: For vacation.

C: *types, types* For how long?

J: xx days

C: Nakapunta ka na ba ng ibang bansa? (Have you ever been abroad?)

J: I’ve been meaning to travel before but I had just received my corrected birth certificate and…

C: *she cuts me* —-So, hindi pa? (—-So, you haven’t?)

J: *smiles* Yes, I haven’t.

C: Ano ginagawa mo sa trabaho mo?  (What are you doing in your job?)

J: Almost everything digital. I do email automation, email campaigns, Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter audience targeting, SEO, copywriting, and sometimes I do web and graphic designs.

C: Magkano sahod mo? (How much is your salary)

J: xxxxxx pesos

C: Per month?

J: Yes

C: Gross na ba ‘to or net? (Is this gross or net?)

J: Net

C: So, you had an error in your gender? *encircles the gender on my birth certificate*

J: Yup, but it’s now fixed.

C: What did you finish in school and what school?

J: Communication at Adamson University

C: What year?

J: Until 4th year (HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA OMG I’M SO DUMB!) 

C: No, I mean what year did you graduate?

J: Oh, 2015. Last year. Sorry!

C: *types, types* How old are you?

J: 21 po.

C: Any kids?

J: None.

C: Okay, here’s your tracking number. We will just deliver your passport next week.

J: Thank you.

As you can see, it was a very chill interview. The consul might seem to be super intimidating but that’s their job – to intimidate you! When you’re planning to be an illegal immigrant, they can get into your head and you will be nervous but why should you be nervous when you don’t plan on doing something illegal? I was so chill the entire time and I was smiling. By the way, they will not get all of your documents. They didn’t even ask about my aunt and family friend who will accommodate me to make their home as my home base! Just pass the documents if they asked for it but if not, don’t insist. To check what they got and what they didn’t, check my post here.

After that, I went back to the milk tea place and went straight home. I’m glad it was over and I’m feeling very positive.

Tips in applying for a Schengen Visa in German Embassy:

  • Arrive early but not too early. 30 minutes will do.
  • Don’t bring too much electronics
  • Make sure that you have your visa appointment and visa declaration printed
  • PHOTOCOPY EVERYTHING – I MEAN EVERYTHING! I made a mistake of not doing so. Now, I no longer have my original certificate of employment, ITR, etc.
  • Wear an appropriate clothing but don’t overdo it because it might look like you’re too desperate. I wore something like this but in olive green.
  • Arrange your documents to how it’s written on the embassy website
  • Don’t be nervous! Unless you’re planning to do something illegal, there’s no need to be nervous!
  • Be honest! The embassy knows more about yourself than you do yourself lol so there’s no need to lie!
  • Thank the consul after your interview
  • Do not call the embassy to ask for your visa status! Just wait patiently! Call 2Go and they might have a word on your visa status but refrain from bothering the embassy.

Waiting for the Schengen Visa from German Embassy

I received my visa after 3 business days. Kudos German Embassy Manila for my good visa experience. They granted me multiple-entry and added a few days to what I requested.

I can’t wait to save up more money after this trip and apply again! 🙂