If you’re gearing up for your study abroad voyage to Spain – you may find yourself asking:
- You want my Spanish National Identity Number? Was that assigned at birth?
- It’s 2015, why can’t I just pay my visa fee with a credit card?
- You want an actual sticker stamp? Haven’t you heard of FedEx!
Earlier this year, I was watching an episode of Rick Steves’ Europe, where he visits San Sebastián. Watching on my sofa, I became inundated into a state of nostalgia: numbing smells from fresh pintxos (tapas), Basque calligraphy at each street corner, ornate walkways overlooking the playa.
For the entertainment value of television, I believe Mr. Steves chose to leave out one essential piece of the WHOLE experience: the visa process.
The questions you have are nothing new. I could dedicate an entire blog to the repetitive questions and frustrations I receive from students each semester. But, this post is not devoted to releasing exasperation, but rather overcoming it.
Whether you’re a working adult or a fulltime student with infinite chapters to read at home, our lives can be daunting. Stress only intensifies when you add the preparation for a semester (or yearlong) adventure to a new country to your agenda, but trust me, it’s worth it, and we’re here to help you along the way.
Before you start building resentment toward whoever invented this V-I-S-A thing to begin with, please consider my friendly tips on managing this process:
- Get your passport: have you ever seen or been that student in class who didn’t do last night’s Shakespeare reading, and are now being called on to give your thoughts on Hamlet’s soliloquy? Don’t be that person. Get your passport immediately. If you haven’t applied yet, ask about expediting.
- Book your appointment with the consulate: there’s nothing more memorable from your study abroad experience than calling the consulate each day, listening to an endless ringtone, hoping for a cancellation because you waited too long to book your appointment. However, study abroad memories are meant to be good ones! Book now. Read the details and any visa information on your USAC Student Gateway now and familiarize yourself with deadlines.
- Step-by-step/multi-task: Don Quixote wasn’t written in a day, so why should your visa application be any different? Make a conscious effort to complete bits and pieces at a time. Know the timeline for visa processing, and also our Group Visa deadlines, and put those dates in your phone or calendar; set reminders. Maybe on Monday you complete the Spanish National Visa Application. Tuesday, you take time from your lunch to take passport photos. Some sacrifice is essential, but if you wait until the last minute, that amount of sacrifice will only grow.
- Read your visa information thoroughly: we know asking you to read another thing—on top of other responsibilities—can seem tedious, but these documents are designed to answer all your questions and guide you through the process.
- Attend the Spanish Visa Webinar: On Friday, October, 2, from 1 pm – to 2 pm. If you’re enrolled for the spring term, you’ll get more information from your Program Advisor about how to RSVP for this event. I will walk students through the process: from filling out the application, question-by-question, to showing you examples of all other materials, and also answer any specific questions you have.
My last bit of advice, understand stress is quintessential to happiness. Rick Steves’ road to Europe wasn’t infused with smiles and filming cameos on the playa. For that small amount of stress—that seems gargantuan now—the payout of an unbelievable España experience will be completely worth the effort.