Visado de Estudiante, Por Favor
Within the next 5 weeks, if all goes as planned, I should have my passport returned with a student visa included.
So, now for some honest, lengthy backstory. Warning: Contains a good amount of venting…
Last Sunday, continuing a long game of email tag, I emailed the study abroad director professors of the art program at UMBC to tell them I needed to meet that week and to see whether I was ever going to get an acceptance letter. Whether it was already planned or not, we set up a meeting for Monday morning. The Germany program seemed to be more of the focus, even though that program doesn’t start until March. I was the only one who knew when the semester in Valencia started. February, not March like I was originally and continuously told after mentioning February several times in emails. February!
At the meeting I learned that in order to receive an acceptance letter from the university in Spain (needed for the visa application) I needed to fill out an application on the Spanish university’s website, verifying that I did in fact want to study at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV). The application for UPV was due October 31, which caused the system to prevent me from completing the app. UMBC’s deadline was October 31 for the portfolio. There wasn’t a word about the need to apply to UPV on UMBC’s application guidelines.
6 weeks before I am to depart, during the first meeting I had with the Art Department’s study abroad directors after being accepted, I learn I need to
- (Magically) finish the UPV App
- Get the original UPV letter of acceptance from Spain ASAP
While trying to get everything else together for the one month program and other general study abroad office forms like
- Getting health forms signed by my doctor (I just need a damn signature! It shouldn’t take a week),
- Disciplinary forms signed by Judicial Services (Come on, do you really think studying abroad would be that much of a priority if I had judicial issues?)
- Transferability forms signed by the Registrar office (I guess it was for my benefit to make sure stuff would transfer).
- Taking a chance on sending in final payment for the January program before I applied for a student visa.
Since I missed the first school-wide Study Abroad orientation, I attended the make-up one last Monday, the same day I learned of these daunting requirements. Getting help and knowing someone was on my side made the week much more bearable. UMBC’s study abroad department, consisting mainly of a director and a graduate student, is incredible and such a great help.
I bought time on Skype the next day and called the Facultad de Bellas Artes at UPV. The director asked right away if it was Jeff calling. She did an amazing job helping me. She UPS’ed and emailed me my acceptance letter. The next day I realized the letter wasn’t addressed to the Spanish Consulate and I called the office at 1PM ET (7PM in Spain) and she answered! She mailed out the revised copy on Thursday and both copies arrived on Monday, along with one being sent to the Study Abroad Office at UMBC.
I never imagined people on another continent could be more helpful than those right on my home campus.
After being stoked that I received the acceptance letters on Monday, on Tuesday Dad and I went to DC so I could submit my papers for the student visa.
I don’t know why, but I imagined I would be sitting down with a consulate employee going over everything and kind of be interviewed. Instead I went to the teller-like window, presented my forms, express mail envelope and ID, given the original copies back, and asked for 100 dollars. I asked the consulate teller if she had all that she needed. She said “yeah” and that I would most likely have it within the next 5 weeks. I was done within 5 minutes.
Now I just wait. Wait for the visa and wait for StudentUniverse.com’s website to come back online so I can buy my plane tickets.
So, I guess my first half of 2009 in Spain is like 98% official.