That’s what everybody keeps telling me, anyway. You see, as you may or may not already know, I’m finally getting my year in China. I’ll be attending Xiamen University from September 2016 to July 2017, studying Chinese on a full scholarship from the Confucius Institute. This is pretty exciting for me, as I’ve wanted to spend a year studying in China since the fall of 2012, after I returned from my summer NSLI-Y program. So I applied for a year with NSLI-Y, but I was rejected. Finally, four years later, my dream is a reality. But not without copious amounts of stress and worry in order to get there.
The first problems occurred a few months ago, as my application got continually returned for this and that. All perfectly legitimate reasons, for sure (I hadn’t included my middle name; they couldn’t open a document I had attached; etc.), but it got returned so many times that it really left me wondering why they couldn’t have just checked all those things at one time, sent it back once for me to fix it all together, and saved everyone some time. Luckily, the director and other teachers at my Confucius Institute are super awesome and were able to help speed things up so that I could have an answer before I had to leave for my summer trip. Honestly, probably the most frustrating part of all that was that most people looking to study abroad through other programs had their acceptances so much earlier, and they were already preparing to go while I was still fighting with my application.
So I went off to China for the summer, bought my plane tickets to return for the year, came home, re-packed, and now I’m getting ready to turn around and hop happily on another plane, right? Well, not exactly. I was supposed to leave the US the morning of September 7 and arrive in Xiamen the evening of September 8 to be early for registration on September 10. But now I won’t leave until September 19. As my “fabulous” luck would have it, the package with my passport and all my visa application documents was lost on the way to a visa company in Washington, DC. And no matter how hard the post office looked (and they did look hard), they couldn’t find it. That meant that I first had to replace my passport, then I had to send my new passport number to Xiamen University and have them mail me new originals of my admission documents so that I can use them to apply for my visa. Well, my passport is replaced and the documents are on their way. When I checked the tracking this morning, it said they had reached Los Angeles, which is a good start. In the meantime, I’ve pushed my departure date back to Monday, September 19, which is within the two-week grace period they allow for pre-approved late arrivals, and I’ve already sent an email to notify the university of the situation.
So in the end, I’m ecstatic that I’ll still be able to go, but I’m also kind of upset that I won’t be able to arrive on time. Move-in day and that first week that I’ll be missing will undoubtedly be full of all the best chances to meet people, and I worry that the later I show up, the harder it will be to make friends. I mean, I’ll have a roommate and some suite-mates, so hopefully that will help. But it’s definitely a disappointing way to start off what is supposed to be a really amazing experience.
If I’m going to look at the bright side, though, this means I have more time to get ready. I have so much to do in the way of shopping and packing, so many things I still want to eat before I leave, and so much more sleep I’d like to get, considering that I was studying and/or working pretty much non-stop from February up until about three weeks ago. And now I have two extra free weeks to do all that (and marathon some shows on Netflix while I’m at it…)