Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Maybe the Third Time Is the Charm

Time for visa attempt number 3!

I have had my visa for India rejected twice now. (I was originally planning on traveling there last Wednesday.)

The reason I've been denied a visa is a "contradiction" in my application. This is supposed due to the fact they we will be studying and performing research. There is some confusion about the type of visa I am supposed to have. I think it's time to share the story of how difficult it has been to determine the nature of this contradiction. The visas are taken care of by an outsourcing company. When I called them, I sat on hold for 40 minutes. Then, someone answered who could not answer my question. I was then transferred to someone else. They put me on hold to check my file and hung up on me. Awesome. I called back and was on hold for another 40 minutes. I then realized it was after their closing time. Face palm. I am still unsure as to why they do not have a recording informing me of this.

I called the next day and the first three times it did not reach the hold music. It simply rang. On the fourth try, I was on hold for half and hour and reached someone, who transferred me. Joy. Then, amazement, this person actually knew what was going on! And later in the day, their manager called me! I was still a little confused because they were not at all straight forward. So, administrators at my university called them today and handled it.

So, after a total of two hours on hold and speaking with seven individuals I think I've figured out the problem. Another form was sent to the outsourcing company today. So, fingers crossed, this may be it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Continuing Visa Concerns

I may have finally made some progress on getting a visa to India. A new letter from IIT Madras was sent to me today and then sent to the consulate. Apparently my previous letter was contradictory. To my application regarding my reason for visit. Now I get to wait. Maybe I'll finally get the ok to enter the country.

I wish I had an idea of how long it will take them to finish processing it and mail my passport back to me. The original plan was to leave next Wednesday. I find that doubtful. I would be amazed if any government agency has a turn around like that. On the plus side, at least I now have a prescription for malaria medication. Malaria would definitely ruin my year.

I'll keep you posted. Hopefully I'll have a departure date soon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Little Warning

I flew to D.C. today for a conference. I won't go into details because the only people who would be interested by the topic are already here. This little trip made me think of something I really should warn you all about. Let me set the scene....

I was in the car, driving to the incredibly exciting town of Omaha. I was staring at the scenic countryside of some flat, brown land with the occasional cow and left over snow drift. Then, my mom asked my dad and I if it reminded us of the drive to Prague. (Yes, I am enough of a dork that I had my parents take me to the airport. Who wants to pay $10 a day to park?). My mom was reminded of the three of us driving to the Prague airport to go home after our European excursion last summer. That was the last time the three of us had taken a trip to the airport together.

My response was, "No, this doesn't remind me of that because it's Omaha." Omaha in January looks so much like Prague in July. Instead of beautiful, medieval architecture, look a barn that needs to be painted.

And then I thought of another reason this wouldn't be like that trip to Prague. I highly doubted anyone was going to question whether or not I was in this country illegally. Yeah, that totally happened in the Czech Republic. It's every girl's dream to be sent away from the passport booth to speak to a Czech cop. Awesome. Scene set.

By now, you may be wondering where I'm going with this. No, my warning is not, "Don't illegally enter a country", though I really don't want you to do that. My warning is, "Make sure the peon at the booth actually stamped your passport."

When I went to Poland, I actually flew through Berlin. And, since my flight was late I was in a hurry to try and catch my bus to Poland. I didn't think to stop and check that the booth worker actually stamped my passport when he brought it down behind his desk. I didn't notice until I stopped to see what the stamp looked like almost a week later. (Before that I was too busy trying to deal with my lost luggage).

So, without a stamp, I got asked how I made it to the Czech Republic. As there are no border stops, driving there is not an acceptable enough answer and I had no stamp for Europe at all. At least the cop was pretty nice about it.

Lesson: Make sure you got a stamp. I definitely learned it,

Um... I'm pretty sure someone is sawing in the next room. What an odd hotel.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Please Just Let Me Into Your Country

It is now less than three weeks until I am supposed to leave for India. The supposed to is very important in that statement. My visa has yet to arrive. I checked its status today and it was "Pending", having arrived at the Consulate on the 31st.

Then a great thing happened. Wait....did I say great? More like moronic. I got an email that my application was missing a document. I need to send in  a "letter from India for the exact purpose of visit. Papers submitted are contradicted."

Um....I already sent that, at least I thought I did. I included a letter from the Indian university and it invited me to visit. Hopefully this will get figured out soon. I kind of need that visa.

I was also told today that I will be staying in the dorms instead of the guest house like originally proposed. I've been in American dorms of varying comfort levels. And, I've seen Polish dorms. I have no idea what to expect of Indian dorms. The info online mostly includes things such as: each room contains a cot, desk, chair, and overhead fan; people can only visit dorms of the opposite gender between 6 am and 9 pm; and boys can only visit certain parts of girls' dorms such as the office. I wish there was a picture. A little bit of panic is starting to set in.