The day keeps getting closer. I can’t believe it is August. I should be starting my Senior year next week, but instead I will be packing (the few clothes not packed in my other suitcase) for a nice family vacation before I begin my UWC journey. Some of my American co-years have already arrived at their respective UWC’s and others are leaving in the coming days. Honestly I don’t believe I could be ready to leave by next week. I am just getting over the stress of the visa application process (it sounded much cooler than it turned out to be). So as everyone else prepares to head back to school my summer is just beginning. For those of you looking to apply to UWC, allow me to give you a few tips on the summer before.
Getting a Visa: When dealing with consulates around the country, do not think that one is similar to another. This is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made. They are nothing alike. For instance, you cannot call the Chicago consulate, but you can call the LA consulate. Some simple Do’s and Don’ts when applying:
DO make about 5 copies of everything
DON’T insinuate that some information may not be on their website. Their website is their all. Suggesting that it might by insufficient is equal to a personal insult to every consulate employee.
DO smile at everything they say no matter how worrying
DON’T make them mad.
Allow me to explain how I learned these things. Upon my arrival at the consulate, I believed I had followed all directions to a T and had dotted almost all of my I’s. I had a copy of everything and the originals. First thing: The consulate had apparently not received documentation that I would be applying for a Visa. It was apparently supposed to come from the school (cue heart attack). Second: Despite the fact the website clearly stated that applicants under 18 years of age did not need to provide bank records, only a signed affidavit of support, a bank statement was required. I feel personally victimized by the website. Third: The forms written in Italian to request my study and provide proof of insurance during my stay A) had been addressed to me as opposed to the consulate (which was somehow a problem?) B) I had a copy and the original (no good, only two copies, no original).
While it was stressful, looking back on it I probably provided some lunchtime amusement to citizens of Chicago. A skinny white kid in Sperry’s sprinting down Michigan Avenue. There was a crowd exclamation when I almost got hit by a cab. Fortunately for me the nearest Staples was located a convenient 5.5 blocks down Michigan Ave. and 1 block over to Wabash. My copies were surprisingly cheap at only $1.34.
After all that stress it was nice to sit down to a relaxing lunch at an overpriced restaurant with crappy service on the Riverwalk. The scenery made up for all my objections.
A few other notes:
- Cheaper flights will always be found after you have booked your flight
- Trying on every shirt in your closet to determine what fits best will rub your arms raw
- Trying on pants too quickly and getting overconfident with the zipper can lead to painful accidents
- Constantly remind oneself of baggage weight limits
- Give up on attempting to review math for the placement test. It’s not happening
- Spend as much time with one’s dogs as possible
- Update music (aka find friends that will furnish you with access to their iTunes accounts)
- Sleep at every opportunity (make up for what will be lost during the school year, right?)
- Enjoy your friends and family
- Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for the opportunity of a lifetime
UWC Adriatic: 23 days 5 hours 3 min 30 seconds