Confessions of a Saudi Diva: FAQ’s about the London Visa Office


The journey to personal freedom and independence isn’t an easy one

As I listen to Sheryl Crow singing live at a New York concert on YouTube, while sitting in a corner couch at a coffee chain outlet on Sheikh Zayed Road, I can’t help but wonder: “are all writers destined to a long journey of self-reflection and self-discovery?”

Self Discovery and Self Reflection

Since stepping into this cozy branch of a well-known coffee chain brand, I’ve had to change my seat four times. First, I had to move near a power outlet to charge my laptop’s battery. A second time I was trying to avoid the chilling AC air coming down from a unit on top of my seat. The third time I had to move to a couch that became available. This time I finally had access to the power. Also, I wan’t directly under the freezing AC air (which as I was informed can’t be adjusted).

It hasn’t been easy since I started my internship. Each weekend I face the dilemma of how to squeeze all the things that I need to/want to do in two days?

From doing spa reviews to blogging about them, from doing admin stuff to dealing with the house chores, from socializing to taking time out for myself, things can get very hectic.

Most weekends, I usually find myself envying beach-goers and party-people as I drag myself (and my laptop) to a cafe to write, check e-mails, plan things and attempt to put my life in order. I must admit that I make the choice to work on weekends. I’m happy with my choice so I should stop complaining.

I just feel like there are certain things that must be done as soon as the idea comes up. They simply can’t be postponed or neglected. Because if I do that, then the opportunity will no longer be there. The next step will not present itself and the progress remains stagnant.

London Visa Office

london visa officeToday’s post will be a short one. Mainly because I kind of lost the trail of thoughts for the culture posts! Yes, I honestly can’t remember what the next topic was going to be about. However, I do recall that I was going to mention my story at the Visa office in London.

While I was a foundation student at LCF in London and soon after I had decided that the course wasn’t for me and that it was time for a plan B, I researched an immigration office that I could contact for help.

Basically, I didn’t want to go back to Saudi. I wanted to find out if there was a way that I could stay in London with my current student visa, despite the decision to leave the course.

After a bit of online research, I came across a private place called “The Visa Office”. I contacted them and made an appointment with the “guy from the London Visa Office”! It was a decent office somewhere in London (this was back in 2010, so I can’t remember the location). The guy I met with was a 50-something British man who basically gave me false hope.

I found out later that the reason for his false statements, facts and information was that this was the only way that he could try to make some profit out of me. If he told me the truth (we’re in the middle of a recession and you’re trying to become a journalist with IT support background and education), then I would no longer be a potential client for his company and the work that they do.

Mr London Visa Office Guy

Of course, this realization didn’t come to me after my bright and hopeful meeting with Mr. London Visa Office guy. In fact, after our meeting, I was walking down a London street with a hop in my step. I had a very optimistic outlook to my future life in the cultural and vibrant capital and a magical feeling of eternal freedom and optimal independence.

Unfortunately, those wonderful and enchanting feelings didn’t last for long. After about two months from that meeting and following a series of rejection e-mails from employers, I concluded that the chances for me to be able to get a professional job in London in the filed that I wanted to changes into were non-existent. I could either continue with the course, enroll in another study program or leave back to Saudi.

Basically, I knew that if I wanted to live legally in London there were two choices. You can either be a student or a tourist. As I didn’t want to be any of them, I decided to leave the country.

The rule is that you must leave the country within 30 days from withdrawing from the University course. Since the student visa is automatically cancelled once you choose to withdraw from the course. I can go back to this story in more detail in a later post.

The funny thing is that the London Visa Office consultant kept emphasizing that I shouldn’t leave the course. This is mainly because he knew that I wouldn’t be able to get a job with my qualifications and at a difficult economic time. But he didn’t want to tell me that since that would mean that he would be loosing a potential client. If he had confronted with the real truth, then he wouldn’t be able to make any profit from me. That’s why he gave me hope and even asked me to attest my University certificate (Which I did).

Regrets? Not One.

Going through the UK immigration point system at the Visa Office was a memorable experience that I will never forget. It gave me hope of a new life. A liberation from all the restrictions of my past. A declaration of my independence.

Do I regret not being able to stay in the UK and not completing my course with LCF? Not one bit.

I believe that the Universe always guides us to our best destination and has the best in store for us. The leap from living and working in Saudi to living and working in London was an expansive one. Baby steps make more sense. During my time in Dubai, I was able to take little steps towards my goals. They might not seem very substantial at first, but they definitely add up to a more complete picture with time.

Stay tuned for a staycation post, a short break hotel review and more insightful and interesting culture posts coming soon to the blog.

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