Thursday, November 26, 2009

VISA EXPEDITED

Most people would assume traveling to England is an easy process. They are known to be our next door neighbor, our ally and friend. Quickly did I learn this was not the case.

It was about 12:30 AM Tuesday morning when my mom and I decided to sit down and go through all the VISA stuff I had brought home from school. I had applications, transcripts, copies of my passport, bank statements, the gamut. 


By 1:30 I think we had finally finished completing the applications, half of which I could barely understand what I was answering. Then by 9:00 in the morning we were out the door, off to get MORE passport photos taken before my biometrics appointment. 


We arrived in Lawrence at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The building was a contrast to most of Lawrence. It was a new building. After we got through security, we were greeted and directed by two very unfriendly receptionists and placed in a waiting room, where very few people spoke English. Within 5 minutes, they corn husked my hands and finger printed them all together and individually. And I was out of there and ready to mail in my application to New York.


However, because I'm going to St. Kitts for Christmas, we needed to get my passport back by December 15, which meant my VISA had to be expedited. For this, we turned to ABriggs, a passport and VISA expediting service. So we headed in to downtown Boston, where a little man helped to ensure I completed the forms correctly and had everything I needed. Luckily, we were close enough to Newbury Street that shopping made the trip worthwhile.


So 4 hours and about 300 dollars later (not counting the money spent on Newbury Street), I'm now awaiting my VISA and ready to go!


That's all for now--about to celebrate our arrival in a new country away from the country I'm anxiously awaiting to go to...but more on that later!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And the countdown begins

56 days, but who's counting? I certainly am.

It seems like years since I began anticipating my semester abroad and months since I began submitting the forms. The never ending slew of passport photos, essays, VISA applications and probably about a thousand questions to IAP and Arcadia are finally nearing their end. I think my Academic, IAP and Arcadia advisers will all be happy to see me go so they won't have to deal with my constant bombardment of questions: Which form is this? Do I need to fill this out? Did I do this right? Do you need a copy of this? OK--so maybe I'm a little neurotic!

But soon, I will be boarding my plane from Boston's Logan Airport to a country I've always dreamed about spending time in. In a short few months and seven-hour plane ride, my life will be totally transformed.

A native of Andover, Massachusetts, a small suburban town 25 miles north of Boston, I've grown up on fresh seafood, the Boston Red Sox, hockey and all those distinctively North Eastern traditions, a lot of which I've always thought, or at least hoped, are deeply routed in the old English ways of the region. I've walked the freedom trail, seen the Boston Tea Party and woke up at 4 am to watch the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. American-British history has been deeply embedded in me since I was a child and has always fascinated me. I've longed to travel to the other side of the story and pond.

England inspired Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen to write their greatest works and The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and The Clash to sing their most famous songs. While I have never been, I have escaped to London in novels, movies and history. The city of London has always drawn me in. Walking the streets of the city will be a stark contrast to my familiar routes. I'll definitely get lost in the process but maybe the city will inspire me too, or hopefully at least provide some entertainment for all of you out there surfing the web in a fit of procrastination or boredom!

So I'm off to discover history and myself, and if all else fails, maybe my British husband, equipped with a sultry accent, of course!