As it turns out, the stress of graduate school was far from over when I accepted my place at FIU. The last three months I have been in a weird limbo situation where nothing feels real yet except the mountains of paper work I have had to fill in.
Here are a few things that have made me want to tear my hair out lately:
1. Finding somewhere to live
Finding people to live with was surprisingly quick and easy (next year I will be living with two girls on my course, Jaimie and Stephanie). Finding somewhere to live… not so much. Steph lives in Jacksonville, five hours north of Miami, and was our chief apartment hunter which I was beyond grateful for since there’s only so much you can do via the internet. Steph found us the apartment of our dreams, floor to ceiling windows, fantastic location, reasonably priced… I was in love. Until the landlord decided to rent to a couple rather than students. It will always be the one that got away. For two weeks I mourned the loss of something I never actually had. Fortunately, Steph is a wonderful human being and drove down from Jacksonville again to find us somewhere to live. Cue signing and scanning 30+ pages and we finally had a roof over our heads in an area my dad approved of (he has been Googling neighbourhoods in a panic apparently). I swapped floor to ceiling windows for a patio and still have a pool, I think I can deal with losing the first apartment.
2. Getting my I-20
Getting my visa wasn’t too difficult. Getting the crucial document from FIU that I needed to apply for my visa was. In order to get a student visa you need a document called an I-20 which verifies where you will be studying. It took three months, $60 in courier fees, five phone calls and more emails than I can be bothered to count for me to get my I-20. This was mostly because graduate admissions appear to have the collective intelligence of a gnat and did not seem to grasp how little time I had left to have my visa processed before my flight.
Eventually they managed to produce my I-20, however, before they sent it I needed an ID number from it in order to book my embassy appointment for which there is usually a two week wait. My email correspondence went like this:
Me: I need my SEVIS ID number from my I-20 so I can make my embassy appointment. If I don’t make my appointment this week I won’t get my visa in time.
Gnat: I can’t give you that number via email. But go ahead and make your appointment.
Me: Like I said, I can’t make the appointment without that number. The embassy website says that I can contact you if I don’t physically have my I-20 yet.
Gnat: Just go ahead and make your appointment and you will get your I-20 soon.
Me: Once again, I cannot make the appointment without that number. There is a two week wait for appointments. I need that number this week or I will not have time to get my visa.
Eventually she spoke with her supervisor and I was given the number, proof that determination and a willingness to annoy people will get you anything.
3. Everything else
I have to decide which of my belongings I can live without for the next three years, I need to find somewhere to buy a mattress, I need to sort out getting a car (and driving automatic on the other side of the road), I need to get a bank account and a phone. I have to make the most of my friends and family
But most importantly, I have to say goodbye to the dog.
I have two weeks to go. I am so scared and excited. I can’t wait yet I wish I had more time to sort things out. I love you Sussex, but damn I’ve missed you America!