Journey to Kosovo for attending DebConf 22debconf debian
DebConf is the annual conference of Debian where people interested in contributing to Debian operating system meet every year. The venue of DebConf 22 was decided as Kosovo, a country in Europe.
Debian approved my bursary request. This means Debian will sponsor all my travel, accomodation and food expenses related to the conference. I received the approval from the DebConf 22 bursary team in the last week of May 2022. My other Indian friends going to attend the DebConf 22 were also approved for the bursary. The next stage for us was to apply for the Kosovo visa.
Kosovo does not have an embassy in India and Indian passport says that we cannot send passport outside India. The organizing team of DebConf 22 found a way for us to apply for the Kosovo visa without sending our passports outside our country. The plan was to apply remotely from India by sending documents by email to Kosovo embassy in Tirana, Albania, which was giving visa-free arrival to Indians and visit the embassy in Tirana to get the visa physically on our passports.
We sent our documents by email and booked flights to Tirana a few days before the starting date of DebCamp– 10th July 2022. I sent my documents on 9 June 2022 for the Kosovo visa. The provision of applying remotely was an exception made for us and it is not a normal procedure to apply for Kosovo visa.
I expected that I will get some reply from the Kosovo embassy stating the rejection or approval of our visa application. 15 days after applying, we found that none of us got a reply from the embassy. As the time progressed and the date of our flights was coming closer, the no reply from the embassy was making us stressed. Having no assurance I will get the visa upon reaching Tirana was making me confused on whether to cancel flight tickets. If I cancel tickets, I will lose money as the flights have huge cancellation fees. If I got to Tirana and did not get Kosovo visa, I was not sure if Debian will reimburse my flight tickets.
But the local organizing team of DebConf 22 was very confident about our chances of getting a visa. So we decided to fly to Tirana on the date of our flight bookings. I was going alone from the Delhi airport. The flight asked a lot of questions from me but the immigration officer only verified whether Albania is giving visa free arrival to Indians.
I reached Tirana on 6th July 2022. On 8th July 2022, we got an email from the organizing team to visit the Embassy of Kosovo in Tirana the next morning to collect our visas. We walked in to the Kosovo embassy the next morning and got our visas.
We were so happy to get the visas before the conference after putting so much time and effort into it. The uncertainty caused a lot of stress to us and the local organizing team who were very helpful throughout the process.
On 10th July, we took a bus from Tirana, Albania to Prizren, Kosovo and finally reached the venue of the DebConf 22. I am writing this sitting in the DebConf venue.
Thanks to the organizers for their efforts for getting us Kosovo visa, sponsors and my Indian friends, without which me attending DebConf 22 would not have been possible.