Guys! It’s been a while. Past half year has been busy with life transitions. Let me tell you just how intense my transition from Undergraduate studies to Graduate School went. Bear with me, this is a good one:
I was due to finish my degree at Seton Hall in December 2015, with no plans after (being a non-US citizen, having no school or job lined up makes it difficult to stay in the US). I knew Graduate School was a possibility, so I bought a GMAT book and did 2-3 weeks of studying over summer. September hits and after considering school options, I put all my eggs in one basket: Master of International Business program at the University of South Carolina. It was make it or break it – I registered for my GMAT test the DAY applications were due – October 1st, – it my only shot at doing well. I didn’t have much time, so I crammed GMAT studying in between classes, put together resumes, recommendations, essays.. all in the 20 days prior to October 1st.
Well, as for GMAT day…
Anyway, I took it, and did OK! Three weeks later, October 24th, I wake up to an acceptance e-mail. Sweet! Few days of searching where to live and I find a great apartment with an incredible roommate! Shout out to you, Luis. You the man.
Visas: Being international, I need to take a I-20 form to a US embassy in my home country, so they can process my F-1 visa in passport (2-3 week process). December 17th I landed in São Paulo, however, I only got my I-20 form beginning of January! I was initially due to be back January 4th for orientation but it was January 4th, I was in Brazil at the beach and hadn’t gone to a US embassy to even APPLY for a visa. Well, shit.
January 8th at 9:20am, the day of my flight back to the US, I realize I did not have my F-1 visa. My flight was 6:30pm that day. Without the F-1, I couldn’t enter the country as a student. I couldn’t begin school. OMG! All the effort, down the drain. Blurred vision, shaking.. overwhelmed, like I was carrying the world on my back. What was I going to do? Offices at USC were closed, the US embassy in Brazil couldn’t help me through the phone and the Brazilian Embassy said they had nothing to do with it.
I remember I still had a tourist visa - it was my only shot at getting into the country. But still, I couldn’t enroll in school with it. The last day I could enter US for school was January 11th. At 1:00pm I emailed my advisor saying I was going to enter that night as a tourist, go to USC, pick up the necessary paperwork, fly out of the country again, find a US embassy and pray they expedite my visa in time. But still, USC’S deadline of entering by January 11th wasn’t enough time. Regardless, e-mail sent. Bags packed. Heart racing. On way to airport.
Said bye to family and I’m through security at the airport. About to board my first flight en route to a foreign country where I’m supposed to start classes in 48 hours, but don’t have the right visa, don’t have classes scheduled, never been there before… WOW! Life was REAL! What an insane mix of absolute adrenaline, excitement and fear.
I connect to Wi-Fi. 20 minutes to board. Open my emails, advisor replies, in all caps. “I RECOMMEND YOU DO NOT ENTER THE COUNTRY ON A TOURIST VISA”. Well, okay then. Shit. Should I board? “Passengers of flight TAM 3046 we will commence boarding in approximately 5 minutes”. Hm, shit. Incredibly overwhelmed was an understatement. But I felt so alive, damn. I felt LIFE rushing through my veins! I called family and made a game plan.
Anyway. I boarded. I landed. Immigration officer let me in with the tourist visa. I proceeded to USC, where they gave me an extension to enter back into the US until the 18th. Now I had to find a country, a city and a US embassy not too far from the US to fly to and request for my visa to be expedited: Monterrey, Mexico it was. Had never been there before.
Monday 11th January - I spend 3 hours filling out all sorts of online forms for visa processing. I call them – “Can you process a visa by Friday 15th? I need to be back in the country by the 18th latest”. They reply with: Visas can be expedited, but it’s up to the officer you speak to at the consulate. If he believes there is reason for expediting, then you may be able to" GREAT! About to fly to Monterrey and not know if I can get my visa done in time.
Whatever, it was the only shot. Tuesday 12th I land in Monterrey, Mexico. I had appointments scheduled for Wednesday and interview with consulate Thursday 14th. Let’s not even touch on all the cultural experiences of being in a country without a working cell phone, not really knowing where to go, clearly being a foreigner…
Thursday 15th 8:00am, I meet with a US consulate. I try being incredibly polite. I try explain my situation. I try requesting for the visa to be done as fast as possible. After talking to his colleague… he says it can’t be processed until Monday. No flipping way. All this effort. Applications, getting in, GMAT, flying to Mexico.. all for nothing.
No shame in saying this, I felt like crying like a little kid. But I close my eyes and do a little prayer. I ask him again. Please.. can you expedite for tomorrow? I will lose the next 7 months if not. Once again, he turns off the microphone and talks to colleague. I’m thinking, the next 30 seconds will decide my entire year! “Yes sir, we can do it for tomorrow. You can pick up 2pm tomorrow”. “HAHA. MY FAMILY AND I DID IT. IT WORKED. IM GOING TO GRAD SCHOOOOOOOOOOL”
The hype was unreal. Saturday 11:30pm I’m back in the US, all cleared. By this time, classes had already been running for a week. I was late, I was tired. I was overwhelmed, but I was officially a graduate student at University of South Carolina.