Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Everything is finally coming together!

So many things have gotten accomplished in the past 11 days!

First off - finally got the visa sent off!  After weeks of emailing multiple people, someone finally answered all of our questions and told us what to do.  So, about 20 minutes after getting the email, the padre and I ran around town getting things notarized, getting a certified check, getting more passport photos, etc, until everything was ready.  Then, we shipped everyone off in express mail to New York, so hopefully we'll have the passport back before we go up north next week!

Aaaand, I have my travel date!  August 6th - 47 days away!  I leave Minnesota at 11:20, then a 4 and change layover in Chicago before leaving there at around 5pm.  After that, I'll land in Brussels at a little past 8 in the morning on the 7th (so around 1am here in Minnesota)!  I am so stoked!

My first host family has also been emailing me a bit, and they are absolutely amazing!  They've already found a trumpet I can borrow so I don't need to bring mine over, and they're looking at local music groups to see if I can join.  Even if I can't join any of them, it means so much to me that they're trying to find one.  I feel like this next year is going to be great.  :)

Oh, and I finally went and had lunch with my local club (Coon Rapids), basically just introducing myself and saying where I'm going next year.  Man, that was a blast.  They're such a fun club to sit in with - I hope my club next year is like that.  Plus, that means when I give a presentation about my exchange year to them when I come home next summer, I can make it hilarious/slightly informal without feeling too out of place.

That's about it.  I've basically got this week left in the cities until my grad party, then about a month of being up north, with about a week of coming back to the cities mixed in there.  Then, Belgium!  All I really have left to do before I leave is packing and learning more Dutch.  Man, I am getting so excited for this!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I hate visas.


After researching how to get a visa online, it started to sound like I needed to go to New York, which just seems completely ridiculous.  So, I called the honorary consulate in St. Paul - no answer.  I went to the building where the honorary consulate was, during office hours - no answer, and the door was locked.  I could see someone inside, so I called again.  This time, she picked up, and when I asked if I had to go to New York for the visa, she simply said "Yes", and hung up.

Fast forward a week or two.  After telling the padre about this, he told me to schedule a meeting with her.  So, I did, and when I went to the meeting, she said I was filling out the wrong form (even though it says long term visa on the top), but that I didn't need to go to New York.  Obviously, now I'm having trouble believing basically anything she says, because it seems like every time I talk to her (if I can get a hold of her), it changes.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, the visa process isn't going that well.  Besides that, I haven't learned too much more.  My first family does indeed live in Lille.  I'll have a sister (until she leaves on her exchange), a brother, and another exchange student living with me!  The other exchangee, Marcela, seems soo nice.

That's basically all I've learned between the last entry and now.  I still don't have my travel dates - I emailed my travel rep, so hopefully I can arrive in Brussels the same day and time as Marcela (August 7 in the evening), so the family doesn't need to travel twice.  So, hopefully two months from now I'll be in Belgium.  I honestly cannot wait to get out of here.