On Tuesday, June 30, I had an appointment to turn in my papers and application for my student visa. I spent months reading and re-reading the requirements, running around town collecting the papers, getting things notarized and apostilled, and attempting to satisfactorily answer the application questions.
I was nervous. As I’ve stated before, there were some reasons that my application could be rejected. Also, I remember having to do more things the last time I applied for a visa: like prove I had an airplane ticket and a place to stay when I arrived. The website did not mention that this time. And, I have a ticket booked to Spain, but it’s only until Christmas because my mom wants me to come home and said she would buy my ticket for the second half of the year if I did. I don’t know where I’m staying when I get there…with some friends? In a hostel? With a host family? Complete mystery.
Anyway, at the last minute, I decided to drive to my appointment. I could have taken the bus/T but I would have been so nervous about delays that I would have seriously left the house two and a half hours early. It was only a 14 minute drive, including traffic. I knew parking might be difficult, so I gave myself an hour. I found a decent parking spot with two hour meters, and arrived at the consulate (ironically in the same building I had my temp job in when I first got to Boston) at around 9:45.
I thought someone might be impressed that I had arrived early. But when I got to the office, there was a line. Turns out, they didn’t actually care if you got there at your specified time, your name just had to be on the list. So, I waited in line, and when I finally got to the front, I showed the guy my application. He said it couldn’t be on two papers, it had to be on one front and back. So he handed me a front and back and I filled it out and got back in line. I got to the front once again and he asked me for the photocopy of my passport. This was not listed on the website and I didn’t have it. He sent me away to get the photocopy. I had to leave the building and run to the nearest printing station where I had to wait for a fellow visa applicant to finish photocopying her stuff before I could photocopy mine. Did that and went back and got in line. This time, he gave me the OK and let me turn in my things. Then they make you wait while they actually investigate your papers to make sure you’ve done as they asked.
The waiting room was crowded. There was only one seat left. I had nothing to do to keep me entertained…I couldn’t even think of any texts worth sending to anyone. My watch said 11:15, and I knew my meter expired at 11:40. I waited and waited until 11:40…there was a girl next to me who had been there since 9a.m. I ran out, fed the meter for an extra half hour (the office was supposed to close at noon and the waiting room had significantly dwindled.) I had until 12:17. Stupid, I know, but I was in a hurry.
I got back and asked someone if they had called me, she said no. I knew that taking a long time to call me was actually a GOOD sign, because if they found something that was missing, they would tell me right away. I heard them telling people to bring something back the next day. I could NOT come back the next day. I was missing work to be there and couldn’t do that two days in a row. I legitimately thought about panicking. “Why did I think I could get a student visa?” I thought to myself. “This will never work.”
Finally, at 12:10 they called my name. The lady said, “You will be working and studying?” I said, “Um, well the internship is part of my studies.” She said, “This is going to be a student visa. You need to take these documents with you to Spain and apply for a residency card with the local police within 30 days of your arrival. Your visa will be ready August 6.” Relief. “Please wait for my colleague so you can pay.”
12:11. 12:12. 12:13. 12:14. 12:15. Another guy is allowed to pay. “Puedo pagar?” (“Can I pay?”) I asked sweetly. “Tienes que esperar a mi compañero.” They repeated (“You need to wait for my colleague.”) 12:16. “Ya viene.” (“Here he comes.”) I handed him my money order and he said in English, “All set!”
I sprinted the two and a half blocks to my car, not really worrying about what the businesspeople in the Back Bay thought about me. From afar, I could see there was no ticket. A sense of victory and relief flowed through me.
The student visa is one major obstacle that I am incredibly happy about overcoming. Now, I just need to make sure the school receives all of my transcripts and I will officially be all set. Like I said, I already bought my ticket, so this trip is now becoming a reality.
I keep going back and forth between being really excited and kind of scared. But most of the time it’s a little bit of both, which is a pretty cool feeling.