Fun with visas

All right, who was it who searched for “smitha prasadh blog” and found this site? ;o) You’re in this timezone and a Bellsouth user–I know that much at least. Reveal yourself!

A word to the wise–go to your local all-in-one pharmacy for your passport/visa photos. I went to the post office (where I’ve gone for all my photos for the JET application process so far), and the woman behind the counter actually ordered me to go to Walgreens or CVS, because she told me the post office charges way too much. It would’ve been $30 for 4 photos, and I went half a mile down the street to our local Walgreens and paid half that. Plus, I got into a good conversation with the passport photo lady, whose friend’s daughter just graduated from college and is looking into similar programs, too, so I told her about JET and NYTF, and named a few other English programs in Japan (NOVA, AEON, GEOS, etc.). On the other hand, the passport photo lady at the post office never cracks a smile. So think about it. ;o)

Also–if you think you want to go to a country that requires a visa if you’re on an American passport…well, it’s too late now, but if you have more than 6 weeks before your departure, start RIGHT NOW so that you can give yourself enough time for it. I’m hoping to send my Indian visa forms off today, probably via Express Mail, and the website says there’s a turnaround of 7-10 days. But this is the Indian embassy. There’s absolutely no guarantee that they’ll stick to that deadline. (And to those idiots who like to flame me for being even remotely critical of my own people–just shut up, because you know it’s totally true.) I have to have my passport back so that I can submit my Japanese visa form to the Atlanta consulate by July 15th (at least I can drive there and drop it off if needs be, which is nice)…so I have a month, but right now my dad isn’t sure if we should go ahead and send it off or not. (He tells me this AFTER I get my 4 visa photos, and AFTER I get a $165 cashier’s check to cover the cost of the visa and having it shipped back to me via Express Mail. Great!)

I’m teleworking today, and I haven’t even gotten started on my work yet because I’ve been taking care of all this stuff. I’m about to call the embassy in DC, which is the one that handles visas according to indianembassy.org, and see if I can explain that I have a particularly urgent case. And, you know, maybe fib and say that I only just heard about this wedding, when in reality, we all completely forgot that I actually have to apply for a visa, since I was still on an Indian passport when we went in 2000 and didn’t need to then.

Oh! One more thing–the post office actually has somewhat reasonable shipping rates, too. My parents called UPS this weekend, and they said it’d cost $250 to ship a 50-pound box to Tokushima, but the USPS charges around $150 for 2-week air mail, and $60-$70 for 4- to 6-week surface/sea mail. So keep them in mind for all your shipping needs, too.

God, this sounds like a paid promo or something, when I’m the one who’s doing all the paying–I’ve spent like $500 in the past 4 days on JET stuff. I forgot to mention that I got a second pair of glasses (bluish plastic frames, whee), which was a big bill in and of itself. I’d better get back to work.

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