When you take the Eurostar, your passport is stamped twice – once at the French border control, and once at the English border control, 10 metres later.
The French don’t care – a ‘bonjour‘ and a stamp and I’m done. Some times they omit the ‘bonjour‘. Today, the man didn’t even look at me to see if I resembled my photo (probably a good thing – it was taken when I was 20. Yesterday, one of the teachers at worked guessed that my age was 27. I’m 24 – not happy).
With the English, it’s an entirely different story.
“How long are you going to the UK?” the woman asks, pursing her wide mouth.
“What’s the reason for your trip?”
“I’m visiting friends for Christmas,” I replied (seriously, why else would I be travelling now?).
“Where are you going after that?”
“I’m coming back to Paris.” At this, the woman looks at me suspiciously. “I’m on a Working Holiday Visa,” I explain.
“And you also had a Working Holiday Visa for the UK.”
“Yes . . .” I’ve been asked this a couple of times and I’m not really sure what the point is – it’s not like there’s a limit on the number of Working Holidays you can take, and many people take more than one.
She continues looking at me.
“I lived there for 18 months and worked in media monitoring,” I say with a sigh, “after that I went back to Australia for a year, and now I’m in Paris on a new visa.”
“And what type of work do you do?”
“I’m an English teacher.”
“Do you like it?”
Generally I’d say yes, but this time I try a new tactic: “some days I do and some days I don’t. It depends on the day, on how busy I am, on my students, on the metro . . .”
The new tactic? Bore her into submission!
It seems to work, and when she asks, “and what age are your students?” she sounds a little resigned.
“Oh, they’re adults,” I reply cheerfully, “so I have some in their 20s, others in their 40s, and others in their 60s, though I don’t usually talk about their age . . .” I babble and she purses her lips again. I’m not sure if she’s repressing a yawn or a smirk.
“Okay, go,” she tosses my passport back to me.
Jolie – 1
UK Border Control – Nil