Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Butterfly Effect

For two months I have been worried about being able to study abroad at the University of Utah. Finally, I received the go ahead on the 1st July, which was utterly fantastic... or so I thought. This is where my torment began. 

Within one week I have almost become clinically insane trying to sort out everything from paperwork to funds to be able to show the US Embassy that I am in fact capable of looking out for myself whilst residing in the U.S of A. Everything has deteriorated in an ever increasing downward spiral. 

So where shall I begin? The call from the study abroad office came a week late, because of an "admin" problem, which didn't please me one bit. I am very impatient. Thankfully, the go ahead came and I could start actioning everything, getting everything in order so I can leave around the 12th August. Right now, the 12th August is so close I'm not sure everything will be done in time.

I started by paying off several fees which I know I should have done already, but I didn't want to fork out that much money before I got the results through just in case, then all that money would have been used for no reason and funnily enough, every bit of it is "non-refundable". So after I've paid my SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee, it was time for me to call up the US Embassy to book an appointment, which was great! Things were finally falling in to place.

And this is where everything took a massive halt. The lovely Scottish guy at the US Embassy started talking to me, took my details down, passport number, the usual details. He asked me if I had ever been arrested. I could have said "no", but something could happen in America, whereby they found out that I did get arrested and I would be in a load of trouble. So I said "yes... 5 years ago when I was 17" and everything fell on my body just about then, I knew this wasn't going to be an easy ride whatsoever. 

The first "butterfly effect" scenario:

The reason why I got arrested is because I had a little too much to drink and unfortunately lashed out on a friend. Since then I have never had any involvement with the police, and because I was a "minor", I honestly thought it wouldn't have mattered, but it does.

I can't believe something so small and so trivial could essentially ruin my chances of studying in America because I was young, naive and had an unfortunate "I don't care" attitude.  

As my money starts to dwindle, I get the message from the guy at the US Embassy to say that I have to pay yet another "non-refundable" fee to make an appointment, or at least hear him talk about me maybe having an appointment. I have to pay this fee anyway, as I need the "MRV" document whilst getting in to the US Embassy, so I didn't mind. He then progresses to tell me that I have to fill in a form complete it and send it off to ACPO (Association of Police Chief Officers) just so I can scan the document and fill in another form and email them in to see whether I'm suitable enough to have an interview at the US Embassy or not.

I have yet to receive the ACPO letter back, after paying £77 for the pleasure of them to print off a sheet of paper and deliver it back to me. I only sent it off today, so I'm not asking for anything right now, but time is of the essence, and I don't have time.

The second "butterfly effect" scenario:

Oh, another thing... my passport is damaged, what a surprise. And all because a friend accidently spilt coke over it a few months ago, I thought it would have been fine. 

I have asked numerous people to see whether the passport would suffice whilst travelling, all have said no. Great. So I called up the passport office as well, and I have to have an appointment to get a replacement passport. Fan-bloody-tastic. Could anything else go wrong? Well, I have to pay £122 for "fast track" because I need the passport as fast as humanly possible. So that means having to take a day off work to go to the passport office almost 100 miles away. 

So that's where I am right now, awaiting for letters to come through so I can hopefully get an appointment at the US Embassy so I can get my Visa sorted and buy my flights and insurance. The next time I write here will either be me absolutely ecstatic that I have got everything successfully actioned, or me moaning about how ludicrous  the World's governments are as they cannot speed processes up. I honestly hope for the former.

I could do with a cigarette. Will I have to write another "butterfly effect" scenario 30 years from now?

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