I thought I would let you know just what has been going on and give you an idea of the process for getting an American visa for the summer (J1, through Camp America).
So first CA sent me several visa forms, that needed checking and signing, alongside a link to apply online to the Embassy. Once all of these were filled out, I was given a visa appointment to go along to the Embassy. When I turned up I was actually quite nervous! Praying that I wouldn't say anything stupid, (i.e. some sort of a bomb joke - which would also be incredibly inappropriate) I got to Bond Street an hour early! I am usually always early for important things, but my friends will tell you I am always late - which is true, to them!
CA reps were there to double check that I had all my documents and that they were in the correct order and once they had kindly gone through and taken my bag for safe keeping, I headed over to the first woman. She checked out my passport and visa appointment letter and I was through to security.
If you are a belt person, I would recommend leaving it at home for your visa appointment. The two lads in front of me were asked to take off their belts for the security check (normal) and then asked to keep them off once into the main building, until their number had been called (bit weird). Once into the building you head to reception to get your passport envelope for postage, and then head into the ticket room. Here you wait until your number is called.
I was quite nervous about the fingerprint situation. Not because I'm a criminal or anything, but on the way over I managed to cut my finger and apparently this could ruin your fingerprints. Now I was imagining the old school ink pads and thinking that, one, I would get ink into the cut (ow) and, two, I would have an odd fingerprint where the cut was. However, it is the 21st Century and they no longer use ink pads, but some clever electrical thing (obviously) Luckily my cut was not that bad and I was put through to the next stage.
Cue a queue and a very nice American chap, telling you what to do. You then make it to a window (like a bank cashier) and get asked a few questions. I can't really remember all of the questions but here are the ones I do:
What are you doing in America?
Working at a summer Camp.
In California, Portola Valley.
What are you teaching there?
Arts & Crafts and Photography.
What will you do when you get back?
Ermm, get a job?
Now the last answer was probably not the best response, but seeing as I am not a student anymore and wasn't sure if my job would have me back (which they have now said they will! yipee!), that was my answer. Which is true.
And it was fine. He replied with 'Your visa has been approved' and I was allowed to leave. I handed in my courier delivery sheet on the way out and I was done. The whole process lasted around 20 minutes - I thought I would be there for hours, but nope, it was incredibly quick.
So one visa down. I'm pretty excited to have something in my passport, seeing as for the last 25 years it hasn't even had a stamp. Not that I haven't gone anywhere, I have, just nowhere that warrants putting an interesting memento in my passport, apparently.
So that is one less thing to do now. I still have to sort out a medical form for my camp (separate to the CA one I have already done) a first aid course, sort out my phone and get some money together.
And with Canada (after camp) I am still waiting to hear about my visa - which is taking forever and is incredibly difficult! I also need to sort out insurance and form some sort of a plan too, I guess!
But it is all coming together!