28 Days

life

Yes, I waited for this day in particular to be able to use that as a title. And no, this photo has nothing to do with the title or with Italy (it’s from Volendam, The Netherlands)–it just seemed like the apt photographic accompaniment.

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Less than a month before The Departure (it just seemed fitting to Capitalise That) and the tendrils of panic and anxiety are beginning to swirl around my feet, waiting for me to trip up and drown in it somehow. I had my visa appointment at the Italian Embassy the other day, and *fingers crossed* I think it all went pretty well. In order to obtain a study visa, which is classified as a National Visa (visa Type D), there were a bunch of additional requirements and paperwork that I needed to prepare.

People who need visas for going pretty much everywhere (read about my frustrations here) will share my feelings of anxiety with regard to the whole Schengen visa application process, particularly with the amount of paperwork and additional costs/hassle. Well, imagine the workload you need for a tourist visa–then roughly double it–that is the amount of preparation and panicking a study visa entails. I think the most difficult part was just making sure all my documents were complete, photocopied up the huzzah, and on time. I received my school certification documents in the mail like two days before my appointment, so you can imagine my state of panic. You also get paranoid and end up photocopying way too many copies of everything and you arrive at the embassy three hours before your appointed time.

My interview and documents-handover took about ten times as long as a tourist visa applicant’s–they took about five or so minutes each whereas I was there for nearly an hour. The interviewer had to go through all the documents carefully and meticulously, checking facts and dates and documentation, making sure everything was complete and sound. I was sweaty-palmed, bouncing on my heels, anxiously waiting and watching her thumb through my carefully organised files. She asked me about the school, about my insurance, flights, scholarship, accommodation arrangements–thankfully, everything was A-OK.

After a few more minutes of checking documents, checking her computer, and checking with someone who I assume is her supervisor, she finally called me back to the window to hand me the slip I would be presenting when I go back to pick up my passport on August 5 (cutting it close, I know). Relief would be an understatement. I was just glad that this major hurdle was, for the most part, ticked off of my list of TTD’s.

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A leather studio in Florence from 2010 – what my desk will look like beginning September?

This part is The Waiting Game, and although technically the embassy person had already told me that my visa is a go, I don’t think I can really feel at ease until I’m holding my passport with the shiny new visa in it (I’ll probably do a little jump-for-joy and awkward happy dance as well–a worthy moment for such geekery).

In terms of my dire packing problems, I’ve finally decided to take out my collapsible cooler (weep)–making way instead for some actual clothes. There are still piles and piles of stuff that I need to pack in, and less that I can bear to take out. I’ve been checking with airlines to see if they have some sort of student solution package that would allow me to bring like five extra pieces of luggage or something–but I can’t seem to find an airline that does that. Sending my luggage unaccompanied or via freight/shipping is also mightily expensive–much too much for a bag of sweaters and shoes and instant noodles.

So, any other alternatives, universe? And please don’t say I should just bring one pair of shoes. One word: cobblestones.

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