– Why is this darn UK visa so expensive!!
– Wait, what visa?
– UK, Great Britain visa. It’s expensive. With visa centre fee it’s way over 100 pounds.
– Hmmm, that’s quite a lot. But I guess it’s valid at least a few years?
– Six months!! – told me my Russian friend (cheers, Masha!), pretty frustrated with the fact that before she’s even able to put her foot on British ground, she has to make her wallet so much thinner. For me, a citizen of Poland the idea of “UK visa” is quite abstract, because I’ve never needed one. What is more, I don’t remember these times when Polish people were not even allowed to keep their passports at home. I’m from the lucky generation of “European travelling utopia”.
– That’s not cool – I offered my friend a very eloquent support in her difficult situation.
And this got me thinking. I am so lucky to be born in Poland, in the times when I can travel quite freely almost all around the world. No matter how many articles entitled “everyone can travel” we read and how strongly we believe it, we can’t deny that some people are better off and some are worse. And some of them are in deep, black, travel-arse.
Let’s have a look on the below maps showing the strongest passports in the world and check who is the lucky one (source).
According to the maps, Finnish, Swedish and British people are the luckiest ones. They can go to 173 countries (out of 194 in the world) without a visa, or getting a visa upon arrival. Polish people can visit 153 countries. Not bad at all – I don’t have enough time in my life to visit them all (and that’s a pity). My Russian friend can visit only (or maybe it’s still “as many as”) 95. 58 less than me!! That’s a huge part of the world, isn’t it? This doesn’t mean that Russians can’t reach these countries – they can, it just requires more effort, time and – of course, money. For the same amount of money that Masha has to spend on the permission to enter the UK’s territory only, I have a plane ticket, London Eye ride, ticket to Madame Tussauds and maybe even a dinner in a middle-class restaurant in the City.
Still, Russia is closer to the beginning of the list than to its end. Let’s have a look at the last countries. Do you think that in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nepal, Kosovo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Sudan and so on – there are no young, ambitious people, who would like to discover the world? I’m sure there are. But it is so much more difficult for them. Even if they apply for a visa, pay half of their monthly salary for it – they have to be ready to get rejected. Oups, not this time. But please feel free to try (and pay!) again. Other options? Get married to a British, Finnish or Swedish citizen? Sounds cool, but easier said than done.
What is the conclusion for us, citizens of the countries from the first part of the list? Let’s appreciate what we have. And let’s not waste it. Because we actually can discover the world, if we want to do so. And we can bring it to the door of those, who want, but can not.
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