29 July 2010


After a successful round of email stalking, I finally received my loan letter...just as a pdf! Hopefully the official letter gets to me by mail eventually, but I think this will do. I was awarded the full amount that I need.

So now two of my three big issues have been resolved: accommodation and money. One more obstacle: the visa (dun, dun, dun)......

I have my biometrics appointment next Thursday in GR, where I submit my fingerprints and do a full face scan. After that, I get allll the materials together (printed online application, application appendix, passport, passport photos, loan letter, transcript, etc.) and mail them off to the consulate in Chicago. HOPEFULLY this process will take no more than ten business days, as "most" visa applications do, according to the website. Though they can, and sometimes do, take much longer. Well, I will have about five as long as I get it back before then, we're all good to go!

No letter. Still.

That's about the only news I have right now. I'm starting to get incredibly frustrated with this process.

24 July 2010

Slow news week

So sorry for the lack of updates lately! To be honest, it has just been a very slow week. I still haven't received my loan awards letter, so I can't be certain that they approved me for the full amount. That has to be the most frustrating thing I'm dealing with lately. I really want to get my visa application in, but so far I've only been able to do the first half since I need that loan letter. Then, once I get that, I have to make an appointment to go in for my biometrics (face scan and fingerprints). Finally, after all that, I can mail it all in. It is just such a process with so many steps, and one little snag can completely halt the process. It's just quite annoying. I called the loan office on Monday, and they said my letter had been mailed out last in theory, it should be here any day now.

I did get an email back about moving in to my dorm early though. I'm able to move in my first day there, so no need to find alternative accommodation! That is pretty exciting...I won't have to worry about moving rooms or anything like that.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'm still holding out hope that my letter comes today.

18 July 2010

Boat day

Yes, today was a busy day! Before going to Verizon and getting that whole deal straightened out, my dad took me and my brother (and two of the three dogs) out for a boat right.  Zoey didn't go because she hates being out on the boat for whatever reason...but Molly and Casey love it!

One more thing done...

Yet another thing ticked off my to-do list!

Today I took the initiative and figured out what I needed to do for a phone over in London. Everything I had read online stated that international students aren't able to have contracted phones, since they won't have had a 3+ year credit history in the UK. So, the options are a bit limited...we can either get a pay as you go phone, which leaves you with a very short list of phones to choose from at pretty ridiculous prices for what you're getting. Or, you can bring an unlocked American phone with you and use a UK pay as you go sim card.

Well, the tricky part here is that I'm contracted through Verizon here, and Verizon operates on a completely different system (CDMA) than the rest of the world (GSM). So, certain Verizon phones are able to be used overseas (newer styles) and others are not. My current phone, the Verizon Blackberry Curve, did not have the capability to be used doesn't even have a slot for a sim card. So I did my research, and found out that the new Verizon Blackberry Bold is compatible with GSM networks and can also be unlocked to use with local sim cards.

Even better? I was way overdue for an upgrade. I ended up getting upgraded with a new Bold for $50, and that also included a brand new Bold for my mom too! So now my mom and I will be able to use Blackberry Messenger 24/7, whenever we need to, completely for free once I'm in London. That will be so helpful, especially when we just want to say a quick hi, or ask a simple need to waste valuable international minutes or schedule a skype call.  So this is definitely a good thing. Now we even have my dad wanting a berry! I'm going to have to coach my mom through this though...she's coming off of an EnV, good lord, hah. I think she'll end up really liking the Bold though.

So that's one less thing to worry about! And even further, it turned out a lot better than I expected...I get to keep my beloved berry, and I'll be able to contact my mom (and brother, sister, and possibly dad) through BBM whenever I need to. :)

17 July 2010

Accommodation news!

Well, I've finally received some great news! I got an email yesterday afternoon with my offer of accommodation from UCL, and I got into the hall that I wanted. :) I was starting to get a little worried after poking a bit on a UK students message board. The general consensus was that if you request catered accommodation (which I did), it is likely you'll received a shared room. However, I did request a specific hall, but it is an intercollegiate hall so UCL only has so many spots to allocate there as it is.

But...I got in! :) So I have accepted my offer at this particular hall, where I will have a private room with my own bathroom. That will be so nice. The hall is also extremely close to the university, so that is a major plus for me. I'm sure I will appreciate that greatly, especially once winter rolls around. It's also very close to the Uni of London Student Union, which is supposed to have a nice gym and lots of great things such as clubs, restaurants, and organizations to take advantage of.

I put down my deposit and accepted the offer today. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic! So that's one of my "Big 3" to check off the list. Now I'm just waiting for my loan letter so I can submit my visa application. After that, I *should* be pretty much ready to depart!

In other news, last night was Boat Night...always a good time in Poho. I wasn't able to go last year, which would've been my first "legal" boat night, because I was in London. So I was pretty excited for this year. I got to see Manda, one of my best friends, who now lives in North Carolina. I hadn't seen her for two years...that is just crazy to me! I also saw Craig and Mike. :)

Oh, and I'm done with work! I was going to stay through next week, but I've made the decision not to. That place was just too toxic for me and I just can't put myself through another week there, especially when I only have eight more weeks to enjoy the U.S. before I'm gone for at least a year. I don't regret this decision at all. My mom needs help at the club for the next few weeks, so I'm going to work for her there and still be making some money. I'll probably be shuttling back and forth between here and GR for the next few weeks. My main priority is to spend time with both my parents here, and my siblings back in GR, so I'll be in both places. Ed will be here in about three and a half weeks, so that week will be spent in GR and Chicago!

Life is good, good, good right now!

10 July 2010

Life on the beach...

We're off to the beach again today, different town though.

But just for an update...
65 days until I move!

Update: here are some pictures. Lovely. :)

Went here after to get some berries, jams, etc.

05 July 2010

Happy Belated Birthday, America!

I've been busy over the weekend, so here I am. It was an eventful one!

On Saturday, the family (minus my brother) and I headed over to Holland to go to the beach for a bit. It was a super beautiful day out. Well, since it was the holiday weekend and a beautiful day, the beach was absolutely PACKED.

(sorry for the less than stellar quality, blackberry pic!)

We weren't there for too long, but it was nice to get a little sun, listen to some music, read some gossip mags, and spend time with the family. After the beach, we all came home where my brother met us and just hung out for the rest of the night, watched the Tigers game, and chilled. 

Yesterday morning, we all ran/walked in a race around the lake that is down the road from my sister's house here. I'm dealing with a back injury (AGAIN, after fracturing it almost seven years ago), and my mom doesn't like running, so I walked with her. My sister, brother, and dad all ran and did great!

It was a beautiful day, about 75 and sunny at the time of the race. Well, it was perfect for walking - I probably wouldn't have been too thrilled with those conditions had I been running! I'd say about 55-60 degrees is perfect running temperature.

After the race, we came back and all hung out. More Tigers, more chilling...we also got dinner together which was freshly prepared chicken and steak kabobs, asparagus, red potatoes, and broccoli.  After dinner, my parents left to go home.

All in all, it was a beautiful Michigan summer weekend. :)

01 July 2010

Weeeee, Fridayyyy

I could definitely get used to a two day work week. I come in and make it through one day, and what do you know?'s Friday! Yes, yes...could definitely do this all the time. And this particular weekend is even sweeter, because it's a long one. We're closed on Monday, amazingly, so next week will be a short one too. Not quite as short as this one, but every little bit helps. I think my replacement is starting next week, so depending on how well that training goes with her, I may even get out of there a week earlier than anticipated. Although, I could stand to work that extra week too, so we'll see.

The parents are coming over here Saturday morning, I believe. We're all (well, minus mom) running in a 4th of July race around the lake on Sunday. It's a 4.2 miler I believe. After that, we'll probably just cook out and have a good time.

Kel and I have decided that we may head over to the western beaches on Monday - that would be nice, especially since I haven't been to the beaches over there. We'll see though.

Let's all say a quick prayer that tomorrow goes by SUPER quickly!