Now that I’ve been accepted by my program (IFSA-Butler) I need to get myself a student visa. This involves many different components and has been a minor pain in my patootie but not a big deal.
First was sending in my background check to the FBI, with a complete set of fingerprints. It takes 4-6 weeks from when they get my mailed application to send the results back to me so I’ve been twiddling my thumbs waiting for that. Here’s hoping that grisly double murder was never traced back to me.
Yesterday I went to the Bristol Medical Center for my HIV test, also a necessary for the visa. I DO NOT THINK I HAVE HIV, but I have to get tested anyway. I’m such a baby I almost fainted after and had to sit in a recliner with my feet up and have a juicebox. I was a little embarrassed, considering the little old lady in the other chair gave three blood samples and tottered off without a problem.
Once I get those back I’ll be in good shape to apply for my visa. Hopefully the Chilean consulate will decide I’m not a threat to national security and let me into the country!
Yesterday my mother and I went to the financial aid office at Roger Williams University to talk money matters and other logistics with the nice ladies there. Happily we found that my full tuition scholarship (the Harold Payson Memorial Scholarship) will cover my tuition abroad in the same way it does when I am studying at home! The only difference is paying room and board as well as meals, which I don’t typically do since I commute. However, we felt that commuting to Santiago was not very practical, so we will be able to cover th0se expenses with my regular Stafford student loans. Yeay!
We also had a chat with our friendly neighborhood Citizen’s Bank about how my debit and credit cards will function abroad. Turns out the international transaction fees and currency conversion fees are not too bad with they type of cards I have, so I may be able to just take them with me which is a bit safer than carrying cash around. The nice man at the bank did warn me that it is VERY IMPORTANT that I call ahead to alert customer service that I am traveling abroad or they might shut off my card when they see the international transactions. Eek!
My trip is becoming more and more doable and more and more real, although I don’t think I will be able to grasp the true reality of being away from home for so long until I land in Santiago. I feel sure that my host family and the great staff at IFSA-Butler will be able to help me transition and everything will be fine!