We spent New Years Eve in Edinburgh watching the Fireworks from the street party that even put Wishes to shame. Afterwards we went to a club called Lola Lo's which was very similar to a Polynesian Village/Trader Sams theme. After a very bad gin hangover on New Years Day, I've vowed to never drink again!
Tonight Carrie, Pete, my other bestie Gary and I have filled up on McDonalds and played Nightmare Before Christmas Monopoly (I won *smug grin*). Tomorrow I'm seeing one of my old colleagues from my time and the Disney HQ and then I'm checking into a rather swanky hotel in preparation for my embassy interview at 8:30AM on Monday morning.
Fun story about the hotel... I don't live all that far from London at just over an hour by train and I have plenty of friends that I could stay with. The original plan was to stay with Carrie and Pete another night but earlier this week I was worrying about not having a hotel.
I tend to worry a lot when it comes to possibly not being on time, especially when you consider that it costs $190 (£155) every time you attend an embassy appointment (I'd have to re-book if I missed it). After over a year of living in London, I know all to well how unreliable the Underground is for getting you anywhere on time. So to settle my nerves after a night of worrying, I went onto HotelsCombined.co.uk to have a quick look and whilst nothing was 'cheap,' I thought that if there was a convenient hotel for less than the price of missing my appointment and having to pay another £155 to re-book, it wasn't all that bad. Lo behold, a four star hotel that's normally £450 a night and located in the same square as the embassy was just £136 for the night! I know that's pretty expensive for one night... but stay with me, the cost is even more justified...
So whilst I wasn't all that keen about shelling out that much for a hotel, for me to be across from the embassy in a pretty swanky hotel and alleviate any stress and possibility of me missing my appointment, it was worth it. To make the cost even more justified though, just a couple of hours after I booked the hotel, a tube strike was announced that starts from tomorrow evening at 6pm and lasts all of Monday! So not only have hotel prices gone through the roof in response to the demand, but had I not booked a hotel, I would have really struggled to make my appointment from staying at any of my friends' houses. It's almost as if the universe was telling me that night 'Adam book a hotel now!' So tomorrow night I'll be enjoying the comfort of the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair for an absolute steel!
I'm sorting out my visa pretty early actually. Disney said I should receive my paperwork approximately 6-8 weeks before the start of my program. I received it on New Years Day a whole 10 weeks ahead of my start date! The paperwork is just one document known as the I-797 which is the petition from Disney on my behalf for the Q-1 cultural exchange visa.
The document was sent over via Disney's 'Doc' system that allows me to download and print it at my leisure. However it does expire after 14 days. Luckily I'm super organised and was more than happy to get the visa stuff done and dusted ASAP! The night I got back from Scotland, I settled down to fill in the DS-160. This is the application form for the visa which I had to complete before I could schedule my embassy appointment.
My biggest problem was with the photo you can submit online. The quality of my front facing iPhone camera was apparently to poor and the back camera was apparently too good! Luckily I have Photoshop so I was able to re-size the image to meet the requirements but then there seemed to be a technical problem that meant every time I uploaded the photo it would drop out. After about 45 minutes, I admitted defeat, purposely uploaded a photo that was too poor and took advantage of the 'bring a photo to the embassy' option. You have to bring a 5cm x 5cm photo to the embassy in case any way, so I knew it wouldn't be a huge inconvenience.
The form itself is pretty simple, it just requires a lot of information on-hand. Everything from my parents' dates of birth, passport issuance location, dates of my last five visits to the U.S. etc. It took me about an hour and a half this time due to the photo problems. Yummy Jobs do provide a guide however I didn't use it as the link was broken when I came to fill the DS-160 in. As I've done it before, I just went for it and I'm pretty sure I filled it out correctly. Time will tell if I actually did.
I met up with one of my former Disney HQ managers for lunch today, we went to Wahaca and it was EVERYTHING! I particularly love the chorizo black bean with tortilla chips starter #Yum. After that I met Gary in central for a Starbucks. Before heading over to Carrie and Pete's we went to Snappy Snaps near Leicester Square to get my 5cm x 5cm photos ready for my Embassy appointment on Monday. However, I didn't expect to pay £14.99!!! FOR TWO BLOODY PHOTOS! I believe I turned to Gary and said 'I've just been robbed.'
There's a pharmacy just around the corner from the embassy called Gould Pharmacy that allows you to store bags and get appropriate photos. This is where I got my photo in 2013 and it cost me £7.50 for one (which I thought was pricey). It was because of this I thought it better to try somewhere else. Considering I got two from Snappy Snaps, it was exactly the same price #Fail.
I am slightly worried about a small 'hole' in my middle finger. If you have any cuts or blisters when you attend your interview, the embassy advise that you reschedule your appointment as they'll be unable to read your fingerprints. I managed to get a thorn stuck in my finger when my puppy Eddie lost his ball in a thorn bush (thanks buddy). I wasn't concerned initially as my original appointment was to be on January 23rd.
You're able to reschedule your appointment and maintain your embassy fee three days ahead of the interview. As I had to reschedule my appointment due to conflicts at work, I chose to bring the appointment forward to Monday rather than push it back. I didn't however think about the hole in my finger. As I had booked my hotel already (which is non-refundable) I'm going to have to risk it for a chocolate biscuit. It really is tiny so I hope they're referring to actual paper cuts and blisters rather than tiny dots. Monday will tell I suppose!
I'll be sure to put together another blog post and update the Visa advice page once I've completed my appointment. Providing all goes well *crosses fingers.*
Have a magical day!
65 Days to Go