I have been thinking a lot lately about visas/permits/etc. There are different requirements to work, research, live, visit, or anything else you may be interested in doing in a country. I mention it now because I am currently in Los Angeles waiting to head off to Turkey. Hopefully. You see, we want to start working on June 10th (that’s about 12 days from now). But, the research permit has not been officially approved and therefore I haven’t bought a plane ticket…

The Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia or Saint Sophia's) in Istanbul, Turkey
The Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia or Saint Sophia's) in Istanbul, Turkey

This is a¬† pain that happens every year that we want to research in Turkey. It always comes right to the last minute, but somehow, things always turn out okay. (Hopefully I’m not jinxing this to be the first year of change…).

But, this type of stress isn’t just limited to working in a single country. I have a friend planning to excavate in South America and their permit has not come through either. He is planning on heading down there 2 weeks before excavations are supposed to begin in order to stand at the embassy and request (incessantly beg) to have the paperwork go through.

I am also preparing for a trip to both Israel and Ramallah (a large city in the occupied West Bank). So, I have been reading up on the realities of living in occupied territory. The book Sharon and My Mother In Law was a particularly interesting read as it focused on the life of a Palestinian woman living in Ramallah during the 80’s and 90’s. One of the major issues that she encountered was that she was not born in Israel or Ramallah even though she had lived there her whole life. Therefore, she was considered an outsider (just like I am when I go to work in Turkey each summer). Just like me, she had to constantly (every few months) apply for a new residency permit–just to live in her own house with her own husband. Just like my friend working in South America, she had to spend days and weeks standing in lines at the govt offices just to get her permit renewed–so that she could spend another couple of months as a guest in her own home.

Location of the West Bank and Israel
Location of the West Bank and Israel

The more I am annoyed with waiting to hear about whether my permit will be approved to research in a foreign land each summer…The more I am thankful that it is not something I have to do every few months in order to live in my LA apt with my sister and two cats.

–Ashley Sands


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