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With financial support from the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union

Fondi Otto per Mille della Chiesa Evangelica Valdese

With financial support by Society Integration Foundation (SIF)


“Unofficial Border-Crossing Guide for non-Europeans”, Carlos Gustavo Carmona Medina

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This is a collection of anecdotes from my experiences crossing Schengen borders. There are certainly no rules on how to make crossings painless or at least a little smoother. But these “dos” and “do nots” give us an insight into the kind of person a border official wants to let in, and hence the unofficial rules of travelling to and within Europe.


Carlos Gustavo Carmona Medina was born in Comarca Lagunera (Mexico) and studied art in Mexico and Romania. He lives and works between Slovakia and Toulouse.

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1. This one time when I was a student, I went on a trip to Barcelona with friends… / me / my friends.

2. At the airport border control, I had this conversation with the officer: / What are you studying in Romania? / I am learning the language / Why the heck are you learning such an useless language? Only a few people speak it… / Well, more speak Romanian than Catalan… /

3. That day they lost my luggage and sent it back to my hotel in two plastic bags: one with my backpack and the other with the rest of my things. / Aww.. nuts / And because of that, and may other experiences, I feel qualified to offer you…

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The Unofficial Boder-Crossing Guide for non-Europeans

1 - Always look like the pic in your passport. / People change!

2 – If you are hitch-hiking don’t cross the border on foot. / Pedestrians prohibited

3 - Don’t say you are unemployed. / Yeah, I am my grandma’s designated personal assistant.

4 – Take a shower. / What is that smell? / uh… sardines? / *Don’t transport sardines either


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5 -  Don’t transport your things in cardboard boxes.

6 – Buy a cheap ticket somewhere else so it looks like you’re in transit / How long are you staying  in Finland? / ohh, just a couple of months, I mean…hours.

7 – Don’t put stickers on your passport. Just don’t.

8 – Search for contact numbers online before you get there / who are you coming to visit here in Rome / Well, there’s this guy… they call him the Pope.

9 – If you can’t be white at least be rich.

10 – If your name is Mohamed…don’t even try it!