Thursday, July 28, 2005

Check One Two

Since this whole shebang got started, I’ve been looking back and forth at my by now well-thumbed American Exchange Student Handbook. I was given this at the very first meeting, and it pretty much has everything I need to know about the exchange in it. At the back, there’s a checklist of everything I need to do before I fly to America. If I can check everything off on that, I’m sorted. So with less than a month to go before I land in Minneapolis, I thought I should probably go have a quick look it.

I can pretty much check everything off on there, but there are a few things I can’t.

10. Spoken to Catherine Bedford in Finance and arranged to pay your accommodation/tuition fees to The University of Winchester during your absence?

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. This exchange is bed-for-bed, which means that I pay for the American exchange student’s bed in Winchester, and they pay for mine at UWEC. However, as I live at home and commute to university, and don’t normally pay that sort of fee, it’s an extra thing to remember. I also need to work out how and when they want paying. I was told they’d get in contact with me, but I decided to fire an email off anyway. They told me they’ll get in touch soon. Sorted!

14. Ensured that you will have adequate funding for your time in America and have evidence to support this?

Hmm. I’ve been doing a lot of overtime lately, meaning I should have an extra £700 (roughly $1200) in my August pay packet, which will arrive just before I head off. That’s going to help. I also have about £3000 ($5300) in savings. Plus student loans, coming in September I believe. So yeah, I think I’ll be okay.

16. Checked that your cash/credit/debit cards can be used in America?

Totally. Now, this might look like a shameless plug, seeing as how I work for them and all, but Nationwide Building Society are the only UK financial institution that won’t charge you to use your card abroad. Most banks will charge a commission for any cash withdrawals made abroad, typically 2.5%, but Nationwide doesn’t. Of course, the individual machine might make a charge, but at least I won’t be paying any commission if I want to get cash out. Though, as I have a Visa card, I’ll be using that as much as possible. I can manage all my money online as well. The only problem would be if someone tries to give me a cheque in dollars, but that’s not really very likely.

21. Checked your luggage allowance with your airline or travel agents?

This I haven’t done either, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. I wasn’t planning on taking a lot of stuff – just the essentials, and I’ll buy anything I need over there. Like a stereo. And a cheap acoustic guitar, probably, because I doubt I’ll be able to go four months without being able to pay music.

So that’s that. Just a few more things to do, but mostly I’m set.

Actually, where on earth are my tickets?