Friday, June 29, 2012

Yay for Visas!!

I guess we filled out all of our 4 visa applications correctly, because we picked them up today & they've decided to let us in the country!! We stressed a little because we've been out of town since last Friday, and we just got back today (Friday). We received an email on Monday stating that our visa package would arrive via UPS on our doorstep on Tuesday. My initial thought was, great, they are going to miss us and send them back to NYC!! Fortunately we were able to call UPS and have them hold the package until we could pick it up - whew!

We also received notification this week that Jim could book his flight to Scotland. Fulbright uses a travel company that makes the trip arrangements and the trip has to comply with certain rules since is funded by the government. It seems a couple exchangees were able to make their flight arrangements directly over the phone, however even though we called at least 3 times, we've had to do all the arrangements by email & are still waiting to see if Jim get's what he wants.

Since all of his flight arrangements are taking so long, and prices just seem to be going up, I insisted on booking tickets for the kids and myself & wound up getting a great deal (one way). Now we just have to figure out if they'll let us in the UK with one way tickets or if we need to have a return ticket as well. This is a little tricky, because they won't allow you to book tickets too far in advance, so you'd have to book a ticket you don't intend to use and then pay to change it at a later date.

So many things to figure out and the time of our departure is approaching quite rapidly. We are excited but overwhelmed with all that needs to get figured out and done in the next month!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

1. Ride a gondola in Venice
2. See Stonehenge
3. See the Eiffel Tower
4. See the Arc De Triomphe
5. See the Roman Coliseum
6. Go to the big toy store in London (and get something)
7. See the Northern Lights
8. Go to the Louvre
9.  Go to the Edinburgh zoo
10. Go to deep sea world

Places I want to go

Hi, everybody. Here are the top 10 places I want to go in Europe.

10. Ride a bullet train somewhere
9. Edinburgh zoo
8. Scottish football museum
7. Italy
6. Germany
5. Paris
4. Netherlands
3. London
2. Island of Brac-Croatia
1. Football game (preferably Chelsea)

I hope you liked my list! :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Preparation time

School is now out for all four of us, hooray!! Jim and I still have some cleaning up and clearing out of our classrooms, but the stress of schools is now gone.

Carter, Cara and I went to our visa biometrics appointment(s) last week. This is required and consists of digital fingerprinting and a digital photograph, so they can make sure we are "safe travellers". We had to make 3 individual appointments, each an hour apart, but when we arrived at 10:35 for our first 11 am appointment, they called us in early, processed all 3 of us and got us out the door by 11:10, yay!! Because Jim was out of town and my mom was visiting for the week, we took until today to get all of our visa paperwork gathered and mailed off. Hopefully our return package won't arrive while we are gone next week.

Jim also started a 3 week online course to prepare for the exchange. It consists of online reading, videos, and other information along with a discussion forum where each country has a group to discuss certain set topics. This is a nice forum to get to know more of the exchangees who aren't in our Facebook group. A few of the topics have been culture shock and dealing with a new culture as well as the American education system.

We are anxious to book our flights from DC to Edinburgh very soon, before the costs rise any higher. We have started planning packing and are going to try to make it over there with just one suitcase apiece! I bet you we end up bringing back a wee bit more:-)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Joys of getting a visa...

This last week brought another bunch of documents emailed to us. We received the official approval of the senate committee in charge of approving all exchanges, press release notice, etc. A few days later we received information on receiving our visas with a request to email passport information to the British Council.
Getting a visa is quite complicated, especially if you've never filled out the paperwork before. After much searching on the visa4UK website, we finally found some details about how to apply. Our Fulbright Facebook group has been a huge help and knowing that everyone else is having as much difficulty navigating through the visa process made it a little easier. We finally submitted a visa application online and got an appointment for the application support center, where we have to go to document that we are good people!! The application for the visa is especially for Jim, however we submitted information for the rest of us as well. We still aren't sure that we don't have to submit separate applications for each of us and get individual appointments at the application support center. I guess we'll find out this Friday...hopefully earlier!
We also met with one of our Insurance reps to find out about auto, home and health insurance changes. I think we all just want to get on our way & start enjoying the experience in Scotland.