The Scamp Needs to Be Reminded

Storytime: In December I got my dream job at the University of Glasgow….literally, this job is perfect for me. It’s teaching, it’s research, it’s in Scotland. I told a joke in the interview and they never blinked at sponsoring a visa.

Basically, they are the opposite of the office that I currently work in.

I had to expedite the visa process so that I can start work in April. I’m transferring from a student visa to a general visa. The process was fairly straightforward, and the application didn’t as for a lot. Just my bank statements for the last 4 months, proof that I was in school, my first born child (especially if it is a male) and a blood oath to queen and country. When not doing the expedited process, you have to mail all your documents (passport, visa, and all the other requested paperwork) to the fancy office in London and you wait 2-3 months to get a reply. I got to make an appointment to go to a fancy office in Glasgow and do a face-to-face.

I paid extra for a Saturday appointment. I joked with some of my colleagues that I may not be able to fulfil my roles in the group because UKVI may make me disappear during the interview.

I get on a train on Saturday morning with two hours to get myself from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The journey takes about an hour. On the train for 30 min…and the train isn’t going anywhere. Then they announce that the train is busted and that we need to get on the train behind us that is also going to Glasgow. Not a problem. I have an hour and a half to get there. 15 minutes pass and the busted train is still on the track. All trains to Glasgow are cancelled. All trains out of the station are delayed. I panic, as I am known to do. I run to the bus station, which is only about a 6 min walk. Get there in time to see the bus leave. The next bus would put me in Glasgow at 12.30. I am now crying. I can’t find a number for the visa office. I just have a QR code for my appointment. I call my mother sobbing on the street. It is 2 am her time.

She tells me to get in a cab. I’ve cried off all my make-up that hide the bags under my eyes. I hail a cab and freak out the cab driver. He doesn’t really want to take me to Glasgow, and I have to show him the address for the visa office because I can’t speak coherent words. I call three numbers and finally get to the visa office and let them know that I may be late. By the time we get on the motorway, Google Maps tells me that I will be at the office by 11:58. I’m still sobbing. Halfway through the journey and the cab starts slowing down. He pulls to the side of the road, shuts off the engine and it starts smoking. Thank God I carry water with me all the time….too bad it didn’t keep the cab from catching fire. A busted hose caused the engine to overheat. I am back to sobbing. Send a sobbing video to my mom. Text everyone I know (including the nasty ex who has a car) because I just can’t handle my life. It is 11.30.

The cab driver calls his company and gets them to send them a new cab driver. He shows up at 11.50. I’m hiccuping. I am no longer producing tears. I don’t have any water because it was wasted on a dead cab. When we get into Glasgow there is so much road works and one-way streets that the Edinburgh cabbie has no idea how to get to the building. It is now 12.30. $115 later, I get him to drop me off in the middle of the street and curse the fact that I could have spent a tenner on the bus to be there at the same time. Run like the wind (or an out of shape Jew with a bag full of paperwork and a winter coat that weighs more than her). I show up the building and the security guard lets me in and walks me up….tells me that the office is empty and it is no problem.

I die a little on the inside.

The women in the office could not have been nicer. They let me cry and tell the whole tale before they tell me I have to have my photo taken for my new visa. The make-up is long gone. My eyes are red and swollen. My hair looks like it has gone through a wind tunnel. I’m sweaty. I’m still sorta crying (but no tears because there is no more water in my body). They have to take the photo twice because the computer couldn’t make out my eyes the first time.

I’m in the office a grand total of 15 minutes. It took 2 and half hours to get there. I leave the office and call a friend of mine who is in Glasgow and cancel plans. I walked to the train station….it’s the wrong one (think of the two stations there like an international airport and a domestic airport. I went international, I needed domestic). By the time I on a train I fear that I will literally go postal if something goes wrong….but I made it back to the city okay. I walked from the train station to my house and stopped for pizza and chocolate to make myself feel better (but it just made me feel sick).

Saturday I was a mess, but now I can laugh until I cry when I tell the story. I found out on Monday that the visa got approved. I’m no longer a student in Scotland. I am now a member of the full-time workforce.

But the lesson here: Do not make fun of the UKVI process before you’ve actually completed it. If you do though, ask your friends to send you photos to cheer you up. My friends and family came through in a major way and made me feel better.

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The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I can’t remember if I did one for week four, and technically it is the start of week 6, but 5 is my favourite number, so I am going to do week 5 now and week 6 later in the week.

I like the challenge for week 5. I get to spend my time discussing one good thing from last week.

Easy. My visa and passports came back. I am now nice and legal again. The photo on my visa makes me laugh. It is awful. I look dead. But it makes me laugh, and it guarantees that when I have to show it at checkpoints and to the uni, people will think I am that much more attractive. I can live with that. It means I can start planning a quick weekend away somewhere around my birthday since I can’t make it to California this year.

I was also able to keep all of my jobs. Now if one f them could turn into something permanent I’d be even happier.

The rest of this month is going to be a blur of writing up the results of my thesis and conducting interviews for the department research project. I really love the project lead. She asked me first since I am supposed to be based out of the office and is going out of her way to find ways to keep me employed. I’m not sure she will be able to find the funding to keep me around, but the fact that she is willing to do that for me means a lot. I’m excited for the project to begin and I really hope that some good things can come from it. I am fast approaching the end to my 30th year, and while it did not quite go as planned, I am hoping that I can get a lot done this month and start 31 on a sure path to finishing my PhD. July will be here before I know it and I am still about 50,000 words short of where I need/want to be.

Not that I am freaking out about that or anything. No. Not at all.

I sat down with my supervisor today to go over the statistics, and he was really great and showing me what needed to be done and writing up the first part with me, so I think I am all set now to do the first part of my results chapter. The goal is to have this chapter written by the end of February, and with four jobs, I am not sure when it is going to get done…..but it will get done.

The Scamp in Scotland

…..kinda. I’m currently in Birmingham, England at a conference on assessment in higher education. I was supposed to attend the conference with my supervisor, but he hurt his back, and decided it was best if he stayed home. I’ve never been to Birmingham, but luckily the train station, hotel, and conference center are all less than ten minutes from each other. I’ve already decided which lectures I am attending, but now I have to network on my own, and eat dinner solo. I’m not good at those sorts of things. I am horribly antisocial, and I have a lot of work to do to make up for the things that I did not do whilst in Spain (I also have a lot of writing to do about my trip, but that will have to wait). It is also strange to be one of the youngest people here, and one of the few from the States. Already today someone told me that I have a fantastic accent, which is not something that I get to hear very often.

My first day back in Scotland was not a pleasant one until dinner time. I spent the whole day on campus meeting with my supervisors face-to-face, and trying to sort out what my schedule will look like for the next three years. I was unprepared for the fact that they see the research I am doing for the school, and my PhD as two separate projects, with two separate papers to be completed. I’ll be running data for 16 programs, complete with questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews, and from that, I will have to find a little bit of data to use for my PhD. On top of that, I am working on two projects with other professors in regards to gender and assessment, and social justice, equality, and assessment feedback. Each one of these would produce enough results for four separate dissertations, and I am slowly seeing my free time slipping away. On the upside, I have my own desk, a work phone, and really fantastic people supporting me. One of my supervisors took me to lunch and told me that she was the one I could call when I needed to vent, scream, or cry to, while the enthusiasm of the man in charge of me is completely contagious. I left the meeting with them excited, scared, and ready to get to work.

I wish I could say that they were a representation of the school. The rest of the day went downhill from there. The school refuses to reinstate the number I need for my visa, and after a trek to a campus 30 minutes walk from where I am based, I was informed that I am here illegally, and that they will not allow me to apply for the visa from the UK. This was said rather loudly, and in full range of all the other people working in the office, and it was all I could do not to cry in the office. I was so turned around when I left that I almost ended up on the wrong bus, and I walked into the wrong bank to try and make a deposit into my Scottish account (Note to self, The Royal Bank of Scotland and the Bank of Scotland are not the same). I had to use some fancy talk to get a new phone since I do not have a permanent address in Scotland yet, and I generally felt like I had been run ragged before I made it to dinner with one of my best friends.

Thank God for wine and good banter. Seeing Lozza after almost two years was fantastic. Meeting her fella was just as great as he is a wonderful guy, and she looks so stinkin’ happy with him. I was in fine form with the poor boy, but he was a great sport about it. I look forward to when I can cook them a proper Mexican feast, and more crazy catch-up sessions. It is nice to know that there is a friendly face in the crowd for bad days.

I now have a meeting with the international office to see about sorting me out with a visa, but I am not above crying and then going to the American consulate to get what I want. I know that things will work out, but I am just hoping that it is sooner rather than later, and that I don’t have to threaten bodily harm to make it happen.