Of countdowns and postage stamps

Every time I swipe into my tablet, I’m greeted by a red calendar widget that tells me how much time I have left in the States. Today the bold, round numbers declared 37 days. After winter break it’ll be 18 days. After my last day of work on campus it’ll be two. Needless to say, I’m nervous and excited all at the same time – the smaller the numbers get on my calendar widget, the more I realize that this study-abroad-in-France-for-a-semester thing is finally and actually happening.

I picked up my French visa at the post office last Saturday, since nobody was here to sign off on it last week (Sidenote: Going to the post office during the holiday season is not something I can say I endorse). It was funny picking up the unnecessarily large Express Mail envelope that day and looking at the mess of stamps along the side – squares of Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Washington, and various birds of prey stared back at me as I broke the seal.

It’s like one of those paintings – my empty stare will follow you from all angles

There was my passport, and within that was my French visa. As I looked at my photo and lamented my messy hair, I smiled remembering that day in the city. I’m lucky enough to be studying abroad with four people from my French class, which is a pretty sizable number given the fact that there are ten names on the class roster. I remember stressing over the visa application process with my classmates, but it all worked out in the end – I was just so concerned that I might mess it all up or miss an important deadline. Luckily, each step along the way wasn’t so bad. Each item took about a week to complete and to receive confirmation, from all of the CampusFrance stuff to the actual visa appointment.

In fact, the visa process had an extremely fast turnaround. Two of my classmates and myself made our appointments together, and if the tracking on the envelope is correct, we were able to go in for our appointments on a Wednesday and have our visas delivered to our addresses by the Saturday of that same week. Awesome.

Now all that’s left is the packing. Wish me luck.

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