The time period that this blog post covers, the months of November and December, was fairly stressful. A far cry from the type of stress that one might expect from a researcher in the process of writing a doctoral thesis, it was more like an uneasy and worrying feeling given by the possibility of revocation of the residence permit, which actually grants me a temporary stay in Iceland to be able to continue working in the FEINART project. My absence from the country for more than three consecutive months due to the secondment within the scope of Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions was under the risk of becoming an issue for the immigration authorities during the residence permit renewal process, although this was communicated with the associated parties at the very beginning in order to avoid any potential visa problem that might be faced with later. So, the risk was kind of predicted. From my individual experience so far, at least, I would say that enjoying entirely the mobility-based format of any research programme is very often not possible for every researcher for a variety of reasons which are, to a certain extent, related to the country-specific regulations and nationality-bound restrictions.
Without any clear statement or definitive response from the authorities, the waiting time, which was expedited by an additional service fee that is three times more expensive than the cost of a regular application, was unusually slow due to the high volume of applications waiting to be processed before the winter break, and full of uncertainty. Unfortunately, if I wasn’t in Iceland, I don’t think the procedure would have been much different or easier. As an immigrant, the difficulties one faces with the immigration bureaucracy and associated administrative processes are usually very much alike: stressful and tiring to a certain degree and as opaque as the government buildings, rather than smooth, worry-free, or transparent.
The waiting time, which was clearly not conducive for doing ´perfectly´ focused writing, was accompanied by productivity guilt. I knew however that this is not the first or the last moment of bureaucracy-driven uncertainty or self-imposed work pressure that I will experience, but also, neither the one I can get well prepared for under the current system. However, never before had I felt so reluctant about taking any further action, following up with the institutions involved, or thinking about plan B, C…, but I did. Likewise, never before I had been so hard on myself for not being ´productive enough´, but I could not slow down or take even a short guilt-free break.
After a number of phone calls and emails with the immigration and labour officers, and a fairly long-felt waiting time, I got the residence – so the work-permit was renewed just a couple of days before 2022 was over. Meanwhile, I finished writing the part I had been working on during the entire process and began 2023 with a new chapter of the dissertation. Then can it be said that I spent the waiting time in a moderately ´productive´ way anyway?