Friday, June 25, 2010

Across The Pond

This is the first official post (see the title) about going abroad. Okay, probably not the first because I had one last fall telling you happy people that I had been accepted, but this is the first that's just about going to Wales and the preparation it involves.

The visa process has begun. And yes, I do need a visa because I'm going to be doing about 150 hours of community service-based internship (hopefully in a school, so that it can double as my teaching placement). The application, while it's not as long as filling out the FAFSA, it's fairly strict and more than slightly complicated. It asks typical questions - why are coming here, what's your purpose, etc - and it just takes more than a little while to fill out.

There's an online portion, which, in the terms that's given, is fairly misleading. You don't submit this sucker online. You get to the end of it, and print it off because you need to take it with you to your biometrics appointment. Yeah, you're going to get fingerprinted. Well, I'm going to get fingerprinted. Next Tuesday, to be exact. You also pay your fee online. For this visa, a Tier 4 (General) Student visa has a fee of $299 associated with it. This also pays for your biometrics, because that's a required part of the process. Once you've printed out the completed online form, you have an appendix to fill out as well - also an annex. You fill these out in black or blue ink and, after you have your biometrics appointment, you have two weeks to submit all your materials to the British Consulate.

Sound confusing? It is. And there's a lot of other paperwork you need to complete everything and send to the Consulate as well.

However, if you make a list of what you need, and follow the handy-dandy directions (or, in my case, have mama sit down with you and go through it with you), you should be just fine.

The process of filling out the forms online and the hard copies, takes about three hours. Roughly.

The kicker - they can refuse your application if you're missing a piece or something just isn't right. You don't get your $299 back, and you have to start the entire process over again.

There shouldn't be any problems with my application. And once I get my biometrics taken care of, I should be good to go to mail the stuff to the Consulate.

That's when I realize that I'm applying for my visa to go abroad. Greg, the other day at work, said that we were almost halfway through our summer (in terms of our work season). Roughly, I'm halfway through my summer, halfway to leaving for the airport and then getting on a plane to go across the pond. It's squee-inducing when I really stop to think about it.

It's getting closer. The next time that I look at a calendar, I'll give you a rough number (or an exact one) of how many days I have left before I leave. But that much needed process - the visa - has been started - and maybe is halfway finished.

Which makes me grin like an absolute lunatic.

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz