The Great Pond Jump 2008 - Retina scans and the UK VISA issue
Montreal Travel Blog› entry 5 of 6 › view all entries
I returned to Canada last Tuesday after an amazing two week vacation in England and Ireland. It was an action-packed adventure filled with new experiences and great memories and I left with a renewed desire to make my Pond Jump happen. After suffering a disappointment this year and pushing my plans back another year, I am determined to make things happen for June 2008.
Returning home after 2 full weeks and only a few days of rest in Glastonbury near the end of my trip, I was suffering from jetlag, nursing a head and chest cold developed a few days before returning home, and coping with a strong sense of loss that left me feeling strangely displaced. I returned Tuesday evening and threw myself back in the Grind Wednesday morning, going straight back to work to tackle the pile of new projects that accumulated on my plate while I was away. My head was back in the game but my heart wasn't. It would take a few more days of rest to feel fully back to reality. However, though I was feeling quite strange and fragmented, having been able to visit London again and talk to Erin, Cath, and others really seemed to light a fire under my butt about making plans to move and though I had trouble concentrating on work work, I had no trouble re-designing, re-organizing and updating my online portfolio and starting to work on recording my travel experiences. Yes, my priorities are a little wonky at the moment.
The weekend was supposed to be restful, cleared of any activity so I can recuperate from jetlag and recover from my cold. I did spend most of the weekend in bed watching movies but I alloted some time to my own work. My portfolio has been completed, CV updated and travel blog worked on. I feel like I got a lot accomplished as my portfolio re-design had been sitting on the backburner for months prior. It needed to be updated before I could even think of approaching any UK-based company about work. Now that it's done, I feel much better and more confident about my abilities. That's one thing checked off my To-Do List.
I had every intention of contacting the SWAP/Travel Cuts office this week to sort out what I need to do for my visa. I have till December 30th to get it in for June, aware that I'll be losing 6 months on it. Jetlag has me up early everyday now with time to eat breakfast in the morning. While eating a bowl of Cheerios this Monday morning, I was browsing the SWAP web site when I noticed an update regarding the Swap Britain visa. Apparently, the price increase by the British government is also bringing about a new working holidaymaker visa program in which I will be required to visit the Consulate in Montreal and be fingerprinted and have my retina scanned to go along with the visa. Lovely. Another thing to add to my To-Do List. Feeling a little stressed, I gathered my package together and headed off to work, deciding to give the office a call as soon as it opens. I gave them a call as soon as I got in to work.
Basically...the program goes in to effect November 12th. If I want to avoid it, I have to hand in my visa form before November 12th and the government will process my application based on the old protocol. November 12th...that's one week from now. Fine. I think I can do that. So I asked my other questions regarding the $2,500 in the bank and the bank letter to prove I have the funds. I was originally told I'd just need the letter as I enter the country. Since I only want to move June 2008, I have another 7 months to get the money and more. Well, the visa package says I need to submit the letter with the visa. The SWAP advisor confirmed it. I don't have that money right now as I just got back from a 2 week trip...and realistically, I won't have it for December 30th either. Great. On top of all that, they want my flight itinerary (meaning I need to buy my plane ticket) and insurance in with the visa form and I still owe a balance of about $200 (I thought $300) to pay for the increase in program cost. All of this before December 30th.
I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.
I messed up. Things didn't go as they were supposed to...life got in the way. All of the delays and life changes screwed up my timeline. I was the one who made a mistake calculating. What they say makes sense as most normal Swappers only apply for their visa right before they leave anyways and already should have their money, plane ticket and insurance settled. I have a December 30th deadline because once upon a time, I truly believed I was going to make it to London in January 2007...then May 2007. I applied for the program in December 2006. One year. And it didn't happen.
After getting off the phone with SWAP, I contacted my mother on MSN to give her my news and after explaining everything, it's been concluded that I have to let this expire and re-apply in April or May to leave for June.
What does this mean? On the plus side, re-applying in April means I get the full use of my 2 year visa and I have ample time to get all my finances in order without pressure. On the downside, I lose the $500 I've already put in and re-applying means I will owe them another $660 just to get another Visa form and welcome package which I already have. Basically, $660 for the service. It's a bit much. I also have to get to the Consulate to be fingerprinted, ID, and have my retinas scanned.
But here's a new possibility...it's only $395 for a one year IRELAND visa. Ireland! Maybe I'll go to Ireland first and London after? It's definitely a possibility, one I never thought about before. I could see myself working and living in Dublin. Easily.
So these are the latest developments. I do feel relieved that the pressure is off. I'm annoyed I am losing hard-earned money but I guess I just have to cut my losses and take comfort in the fact I am STILL going to make this Pond Jump in June and I now have a second option of where to go.
What gets me...what's nibbling on my insides is this feeling of...failure? I feel like I've failed somehow. Things didn't go according to plan from day one. I guess I should have been more prepared and not rushed into the program before things were set. But will they ever be? Things change. Life is constantly changing. Plans wll NEVER be perfect. I am a bloody perfectionist, but if I want to survive, I'll just have to come to terms with this fact. I need to be able to go with the flow and adapt to change. If adapting means I lose a bit of money so that things can sort themselves out, then so be it.
It's not the destination that's really important but the journey itself. This is the journey and I am learning PLENTY.