Days Abroad: -1 or 2
I cannot believe this day has finally come! I have been dreaming about going to the USA since I was eight years old, and about going on exchange since I was twelve, so to say that tomorrow is a big deal will be the world’s greatest understatement! Thanks to the international date line, tomorrow this time I will be both in the air and spending my first night in Austin.
The process to get here began around this time last year when I spent a good portion of my summer researching which universities I wanted to attend and applied in haste for the exchange program at my school – the University of Otago. Since then it has been a whirlwind of paperwork, deadlines, phonecalls, rushing around campus to get various things signed off, paying all sorts of fees and a trip up to Auckland to get my visa sorted. It was stressful, but sitting here now, not even having left yet, I can say it has all been worth it.
There is not a part of the process that is excessively difficult, it is all pretty straight forward, it just takes time. If you are considering going on an exchange, my advice to you is to get started as soon as possible on the admin and communicate frequently with the exchange advisers at both universities to make sure that you tick all the right boxes. The only thing that I would say to be patient with is booking your flights to the US Consulate to get your visa.Oh, also, just pay for the express shipping immediately for your DS-2019 form. Please. It will save you a lot of stress! It will only arrive late November, early December and despite ALL the places where it says to get your visa sorted three months before you travel, you will get it done in plenty of time.
I have only been home from university for five weeks and would kill for more time with my precious family, but alas, it is time to put on the big girl panties and start my big adventure! All my bags are packed (Air NZ had a $1 special for extra bags so I have the luxury of having packed three!), all my hand luggage liquids in a zip-lock bag, paperwork is easily accessible and all bags are well underweight. Tomorrow starts with a few last-minute, important phone calls before a last breakfast out with the family, hopefully a family photo in Hagely Park and then off to the airport! I leave Christchurch at 4pm, arrive in Auckland 5.20pm and then leave for Houston at 7.20pm to arrive there 1.45pm on January 3rd and drive through to Austin.
I am super lucky in that Mother Bear is able to come with me, so my nerves are not as shot as they would have been and I have someone to help me settle in and make sure that I am not a) lost or walking in the wrong direction, or b) forgetting to buy important things like laundry baskets. That said, both Mother Bear and I have the worst sense of direction so we are due to get lost many, many times a day…
Anyway, I am nervously rambling now so I will sign off and check back in either when I am bored on the plane or once we have arrived safely in America! Oh, you can keep up with photo snippets of my travels through my friend Stripes on this Facebook page (also found at the bottom of the page).
Let’s go on an adventure!