Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Somebody Ring The Alarm, A Fire In The Room

It was all going swimmingly well. Interview booked, forms filled, sorted. That is, until I find out that one of my end-of-year exams is on the very same day… that I had booked my visa interview. Seriously, that’s stupidly coincidental. To make things worse, I found this out on Monday, but wasn’t able to do anything about it until today because I was away, and all the forms were at home.

So I ring them up today (at £1.30 a freakin’ minute), press the buttons to get through the menus, until I hear this:

“I’m sorry we cannot answer your call at present, but the Embassy has been evacuated because of a security alert.”

I’m not sure whether I was more disturbed at the fact that there was a security alert, or because they have a special message for that. I guess it must happen a lot. Anyway, I called back later, and got through to yet another Scottish woman, who was able to book me another interview on the 20th of June, after I get back from holiday. Which is plenty of time, seeing as I don’t set sail (metaphorically speaking) until the 26th of August. It takes about five days for it to come through, so I’m set. Which reminds me – I have to nip along to Barclays at some point and pay the £60 visa charge. Evidently, they want to make sure only people with money (or disposable student loans) get into their country.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Right. I've recovered form the madness of last week, and have decided to update this thing. I'm quite certain you've all been waiting for that...

First things first. Before I could do anything, I had to pay a mysterious SEVIS fee of $100. I'm still not entirely sure why, but hey, who am I to argue with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department? Certainly not someone who wants a visa. So with the under my belt, I phoned up the US Embassy in London to book my visa interview appointment. The earliest I could get was June 2. And even then, I have to sit around for four hours or so, as they give the appointment to a load of people at once. Again, who am I to judge the logic in this? Recommendations of good books below, please…

After this, I was free to fill in a couple thousand visa forms, all of which were extremely inflexible PDF files. Filled them online, printed them off, ready to go. I do need to get a 2x2” photo at some point, a size I don’t believe I’ve ever seen. Need to look into that. Oh, and I have to pay £60 for the interview. And another tenner on top of that to get my passport back, once they’re done sticking things in it. I’m telling you, they don’t make it easy.

That’s the visa side, anyway. I don’t have to worry too much more about that until June, when I assure you I will not be this calm and collected. Rather more interesting are the UWEC forms I had to fill in. Well, aside from the meal plan form. That wasn’t very interesting at all. But, I did get to choose my accommodation! Technically, we could pick anywhere, but only two sets of halls are open during holidays. Now, I have planned to go to Chicago at Thanksgiving, but in the unlikely even there’s a problem with that, I’d prefer not to be living on the street. So, I present my first choice for accommodation. It looks pretty cool, the rooms are alright. Perhaps most importantly, it has a nice fast internet connection. I expect my views of it are going to be shaped more by the people there, though.

So it’s all coming together, slowly but surely. As a random aside, I’m going to France for a few days at the end of July. All I had to do was buy a plane ticket, and I’m sorted. If only getting into America was that easy.