January 4th 2013
What a nightmare this visa process has been! I would advise anyone who values sanity not to be a trailblazer. Don’t be the first person to take part in a program or the first person from your country to participate a university’s program. In short, leave being a guinea pig to actual guinea pigs. I have been working on this visa since November 1st, 2012 and just sent what I believe is the completed application to the Czech consulate in Chicago, IL today. It’s been over two full months to stress, tears, and misinterpreted emails, but I think (and pray) it will be accepted this time.
The only other visa I have ever applied for was a Japanese work visa. The company sent me the paperwork and I completed everything and dropped it off at the embassy with my passport. A month later, my passport with visa enclosed arrived on my doorstep. It was so easy! Therefore, I went into this experience with the expectation that it too would be simple. I was definitely wrong. The school I am working with kept sending me documents that did not fit the consulate expectations and were less than thrilled when I asked for them to be amended. Perhaps they forgot that this was my first time having to do everything for a visa from scratch as well.
I will call the consulate on Tuesday to ask if my application has been accepted. I think the stress will remain until I find out for sure because my first application attempt was reject and returned to me at my expense. To my readers, I would advise you to follow the consulate websites exactly and repeatedly call the consulate to make sure you are sending the items correctly. Also, be sure your passport is signed! Without your signature, your passport is invalid and will not be accepted by a consulate or when going through customs.
If everything works out with this application, we (my mom, my daughter, and I) will be flying to Prague on or around March 3rd. It’s so exciting! Ava (my daughter) and I have our bags packed, weighed, tagged, and ready to go. I think my mom still has quite a bit of preparation before she will be ready. My main preparation will involve scanning documents that have ESL activities printed on them and then writing curriculum and materials for my future students. I’m hoping that I can post a big smile and sigh of relief on Tuesday!
Halls of India
Image by Stuck in Customs
I understand that many of these royal halls used to be inlaid with rare stones. I can’t even imagine what it was like… since they are already beautiful and detailed with all the stones missing! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a re-creation of one of these, even where the stones are fake. One place that comes to mind is the Amber Room in St. Petersburg, but I haven’t been there yet… although it’s on the list.
Read more here at Trey Ratcliff’s travel photography blog, Stuck in Customs.