Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And breathe 

Next Monday is Wharton's International Student Orientation for the class of 2008. I'm sitting on a student panel in the afternoon to answer questions, give advice etc. One piece of advice falls in to the 'well, duh' category: don't lose you're passport, it's a pain to get everything replaced. I speak from experience.

I'm not exactly sure what happened to it. I know I had it when I was doing my tax form at the beginning of April, but when I came to look for it in May it wasn't where I usually keep it. It wasn't anywhere else in the apartment either. All I can think is that it got mixed in with some papers and recycled.

Getting a new passport was relatively easy, getting a new visa a little bit more tricky. Legally, I was fine to be in the US without being able to produce a visa, but there are occasions when bodies want to see one to demonstrate legal immigration status, and of course I need one to leave and re-enter the country. Visas can't be issued in-country, so on Saturday I headed off for a hopefully quick to Toronto.

All the official messages stress that there is absolutely no guarantee that a visa will be issued, especially if you're a resident of a third country. My conscious mind said there was nothing to worry about - London had been happy to give me a visa last year, so why should this be any different? My unconscious mind seemed to be less sure - on Sunday night I had an anxiety dream where I was panicking because the semester had started and I was late for my first 9am class (not only am I never late for class, I don't even have any 9am classes next semester). When it came to trying to eat breakfast on Monday morning my stomach seemed to be with my unconscious mind.

As it turned out, the conscious mind was right. After a considerable amount of standing in line, the requisite finger printing, and an odd but light-hearted conversation with the visa officer about a) the pictures of birds in new UK passports b)Ben Franklin and c) his (the visa officer's, not Franklin's) meetings with Prince Charles, I was able to pick up my passport complete with new visa this afternoon. I took my stomach to tea to celebrate, and hope my unconscious mind will have a good night's rest tonight in the knowledge that it'll be back on its usual pillow in Philly tomorrow.

Seriously, don't lose your passport.


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