Although I'm leaving for Spain on the 21 of September, I feel like I've been working on this process for an eternity. Starting in the fall, I met with my advisor to find out which classes I could take that would satisfy my requirements for a Spanish major. After that, I had to find equivalent courses offered at the University of Oviedo and get the transfer credits approved by various departmental big-wigs. Meanwhile, I filled out an application for the exchange program at the study abroad office, then waited a month until they told me I also had to fill out an application to be sent to the corresponding study abroad office in Oviedo. Finally, when I had been accepted, I had to start accumulating documents for my visa application, which must be submitted in person at the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C.
So with my folder of papers, including an official Certificate of Absence from Police Records authenticated with an Apostille of the Hague (ooooh), Beth and I bought tickets for the 6:00 AM commuter train from Richmond to Union Station last Tuesday. After getting up absurdly early and riding a very cold train for two hours, we arrived and bought $10 Metro fare cards for the trip to the Foggy Bottom Station. We got to the embassy just before 9, and it was raining so I bought a $5 umbrella from a guy just outside the Metro station. A random Spaniard who worked at the embassy had to let me piggy back in when he unlocked the door because I couldn't figure out the buzzer to get inside, but once in we saw that there were only two other applicants there ahead of us. After passing through the metal detector we waited in line for an open window in what basically looked how a DMV would if they were decked out in all marble. Unfortunately (fortunately for me?) the two people in front of me had forgotten to bring their money orders, so I got to the window pretty quickly. The woman made copies of a few of my documents and gave me back the originals, explaining that I would receive a 90 day visa and would have to apply for a foreign student card at the local police station once I arrived in Spain. It was very efficient and 15 minutes after we entered we were back on American soil on the sidewalk outside the embassy.
Even though it was only 9:15, and our return train to Richmond didn't leave until 2:30, it was still kind of rainy so we decided to head back to the train station and exchange our tickets for the 10:55 departure. We got some breakfast at the ABP in the station and caught the train right on time, getting back to Richmond around 1:30. The ride back was pretty rough, since we were pretty tired from getting up at 4:00 and this kid kept periodically shrieking his head off, so we were glad to get back and take a nap before going to Katherine's graduation. Alas, though, I left my $5 umbrella on the train.