Moving to Germany

KLM airplane at boarding gate

A week after our court wedding, we applied for a family reunion (immigrant) visa through email and requested that I don’t take the A1 language test as I hold a first degree from a recognised university. I was given an appointment date to come to the German embassy for interview. A couple of weeks after that, my husband flew back home to Germany to prepare for me to join him.

I then prepared to travel from Zebilla to Accra for the interview. I arrived a day earlier and stayed at a friend’s. The next morning, I woke up early and boarded a taxi to the embassy and as usual, I had to wait in a queue but this time, it was not too long. When it was my turn, I was both excited and scared, considering the last refusal of my tourist visa application. When I was called, I went into one of the booths and I was asked simple questions like my husbands birthday, the name of his town, the capital of his state and so on. I knew all that information so I was quite satisfied with my answers. It seems they treat immigrant visa applicants differently from regular tourists visa applicants for whatever reason. The interviewer was much nicer than the one I encountered during my tourist visa interview. He was much friendlier and the general atmosphere was one of calm and respect. I was quite happy at the end of the interview and I was asked to go and return in a couple of days for the reply.

Some days later, when I went to the embassy for the reply, I was called in and was given my documents including my passport and when I opened it I had been given the visa, I was on cloud nine. I kept giggling to myself and started calling my husband, my mom and some members of my family to tell them the good news. They were all so happy . I went and bought a bus ticket and left Accra for Zebilla to start packing. Back in Zebilla, I packed up everything, gave notice to my landlady and moved my things to my mom’s house in Navrongo.

My husband went ahead and bought me a plane ticket for the twenty-fourth of December. I went to visit my friend in Tamale and we travelled together to Accra. In Accra, we stayed with her relatives as I waited for the day to fly. I was so full of emotions, anxious of the unknown, excited to see a new country and longing to join my husband. I was taking KLM and my husband knowing how big Amsterdam airport is and remembering it was my first international flight, drew me a rough map of the airport and explained the process to me. So thoughtful of him. He even bought me a business class ticket because he wanted me to be well rested through the flight.

On the day I was to fly, I left the place I was staying three hours earlier in order to make it in time to the Kotoka International airport regardless of any unforeseeable events that may occur on the way and also due to the slow movement of traffic in Accra. I got there early, checked in at the KLM counter and one of my friends at immigration helped through immigration and security. I then went to the Akwaaba lounge to wait for time to board. At the lounge, I was so excited, anxious and also a bit bored. I decided to chat online with my husband to keep me company and also eat and drink whatever I liked as it was all free. Who doesn’t like free snacks?

Now comes time for boarding. When they announced, we got up and walked slowly to the boarding gate. So easy, no chaos and just calm. The first time I did not have to join a long queue in a long while. The business class was not full that day so they told us we could sit freely but I stayed on my seat and beside me was an older Ghanaian man on his way to Canada who also did not change his seat. Such a friendly man. We started conversing and he asked where I was going and when he learnt it was my first time and I was already in business class, he was a bit surprised and said my husband was a good man. The plane took off and we were served a light dinner and I first drank wine which I didn’t like. Turns out am not a fan of wine. I asked for orange juice and it is to date the best orange juice I have ever had. Tastes so fresh and so different from all the orange juices I’ve had. I might have to write a nice letter telling them about my orange juice crush some day.

Anyway, when it was late and everyone was sleeping, I watched movies all through the flight, too excited to sleep, defeating the purpose for which my husband bought me the business class ticket. When the plane finally landed at Amsterdam airport, I had forgotten to check the rough map and information my husband gave me about the airport and was quite confused about what to do next. The man who had sat beside me in the plane, seeing I was confused came to my rescue. He checked my ticket for my gate number, took me to European immigration, gave me directions and went to the other lounge. As he was on transit to Canada, he wasn’t going to pass through European immigration. I was so grateful for that though now I feel bad about not even asking his name or having any information about him so I can thank him properly one day.

I went through immigration and was done in not more than five minutes. I looked at the direction arrows on the walls with the gate numbers to get to my gate. It took me not less than thirty minutes to get to my gate. I could not immediately find the lounge so I asked the KLM agent at my gate who didn’t seem too pleased to give me directions claiming it will soon be time for boarding. I was feeling cold at the gate and  I knew there was still enough time to sit there and wait.  My husband had warned me about the cold and that I should buy any jacket in Ghana before flying. I searched a bit and couldn’t get what I wanted, so I gave up thinking how bad will the cold be.  In hind sight, any sweater or thick clothing could have worked but I didn’t take any. Too known me. So here  I was, freezing cold at the gate. I decided to look for the lounge. Once there, I checked in with one of the receptionists and went to sit on the comfortable chairs. It was warm and I was happy I took the fifteen minute walk back in the direction I came. When it was time to board, it was announced and I walked back to my gate. People were queuing to board the plane so I joined. When we got in, I sat on my assigned seat in the business class section and because everyone including economy class passengers had to pass through the front of the small airplane to get to their seats, I kept getting some judgemental looks from mostly the economy class passengers as if to ask ” is she lost?” It felt like they were waiting for the stewardesses to come move me to my ”proper seat” and the curtain was closed and the plane took off, they finally got the memo.

Just arrived in Germany, 2012

When we landed, I waited for the luggage to arrive and when it did, I took mine and went to the waiting area. My husband was already there, waiting for me with a warm jacket from my mother- in-law, what a thoughtful woman, and as I was freezing cold, I was so grateful for that. We exited the Stuttgart airport and went to the car to drive home. I started getting anxious, the closer we got to his town, the more anxious I got. See, I had not met nor spoken to my in-laws before we got married so I didn’t know how they will receive me. Plus my husband lived in the top apartment in their house, meaning I will be living there as well, under their roof. Before I travelled, I had heard some stories about Germans being racists against blacks and even some clubs denying blacks entry just because they are black so I was a little apprehensive.

When we arrived, they came to meet us outside and my mother in law hugged me to welcome me. I was so happy and immediately felt at home. All my anxiety disappeared when they were so welcoming and happy to finally meet me. We went in and she gave me food to eat and I went to rest in my husband’s apartment.

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