POE and other anecdotes

This is my tale about my POE (Port of Entry) into the United States of America:

So after finishing up my business in Denmark it was time to gather my stuff and get on that plane back ‘home’!

I got a one-way ticket with Icelandair for $500 on cheapoair.com which was a pretty good deal at the time. They ran for about the double on other sites.
– I packed two huge suitcases and got a ride to the airport.
At the airport I was the first one in line, but I had a few lbs excess baggage and the lady “kindly” asked me to unpack or pay.
So I went to the side, removed three books from one bag and a sweater from another (seriously, we’re talking 4-5 lbs too much) I thought it would be okay for me to go back to check-in my luggage afterwards, considering I had been waiting 45 minutes before they even opened check-in (actually, I was checked in just needed to drop my bags) but as always the Danes are not very considering despite they all starred at me while I repacked my bags. – In other words, I got a last taste of the danish attitude and had to go back to the end of the line, and wait another hour.
My bags got checked-in and I took my books and sweater with me in as hand-luggage. (Cause who ever weighs your hand luggage at the gate?)

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Last view of Copenhagen, goodbye!

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On my way to Terminal 1, CPH

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Terminal 1, CPH

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Last view of Copenhagen, goodbye!

The trip to Iceland was AWEFUL! At take-off I started crying, being overly emotional with the thought of actually leaving my family for .. I don’t know how long. The flight attendant saw me and asked if I was okay. I was. At least for a while.
Normally I have pretty decent buddies to sit next to, but this time I was sitting next to a very tall young man that had his legs irresponsibly spread (why does guys always do that?) and his arms were taking up more space than just the armrests. Need I say, personal space? He would at times look at me and he just moved around a lot. And at one point he fell asleep and his head fell on my shoulder.
The second we landed in Iceland he took his seatbelt off, and when we were at the gate he almost crawled over me to get his bag from the overhead bin. I was so upset that I told him to cool it. Nobody else stood up yet, not even the flight attendant. My bag and jacket was in front of his in the overhead bin, and he started pushing my bag to the side to get his out .. I was getting really annoyed and I told him again: “YOU HAVE TO RELAX!” with a loud voice. I wasn’t being unfair. The dude was acting weird. Besides, I had the aisle seat. That means; I stand up first – I take my stuff … and then you’re free to do the same. Don’t crawl over my legs and don’t violently push my stuff the side, moron! (Edit: Looking back, I’m afraid he might have had some mental problems)

Anyways….. I love Keflavik airport. I did a little ‘looking around’ and got a yogurt and juice. Then about an hour after I was on my way to New York. I had my window seat and a spare seat between me and the guy sitting by the aisle. Made up for the trip to Iceland.

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Keflavik

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Keflavik

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Keflavik

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Eh, what now?

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Art in Keflavik

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Learn Icelandic; Konur = Women

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Blue Lagoon store in Keflavik

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Learn Icelandic

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With Hengill to New York

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Leaving Iceland

At JFK I feared a huge line at the border/immigration but – almost miraculously – the line was short and I only had to wait 5-10 minutes. Then I feared that the immigration would deny me. Though you have a visa, it’s still immigration that determines whether or not to let you in. And giving the fact that I’ve been traveling on visa waiver a million times I had this idea that now would be the time I got denied – but I didn’t! He asked me what I was going to study, and for how long. And then, he stamped my papers! I’m telling you, RELIEF! – Didn’t have to wait for my bags either, they came out right after each other after 2 minutes. And I got a cab after only waiting a few minutes. So despite the cruel wait in Copenhagen, having to unpack and the annoying dude next to me from Copenhagen to Iceland – the last half (and most important) part of my trip was painless and when I arrived at my building the doorman came and helped me with my bags!
At home, beautiful roses awaited me again. My friend is just the sweetest!

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If roses could talk, I know what these would say...

So to sum it up;

After 26 times of crossing the Atlantic the 27th time proved to have some of the worst and the best experiences of traveling. I experienced the worst seating companion of all times – and the shortest line at immigration at JFK, and shortest wait for luggage ever! And now, being home with no intention of going back to Denmark for the next 5-6 years I’m finally starting to breath again 😀 … at least until my next blog, where I’ll tell you how it feels like when the study grant you’re entitled to as a danish citizen proves to be hard to get approved and it leaves you with the fear of being without income for the first semester of school!

My F-1 Visa interview

I wasn’t able to sleep last night. I was “over thinking” my F-1 visa interview, completely convinced that they were going to deny me. For what reason you might ask? – For spending too much time in the U.S the last couple of years.

I arrived at the embassy too early. My appointment time was 10.10 am, but because I was afraid of getting lost (it was so easy to find!) I left home early and was in front of the embassy at 9.30. Since it’s not allowed to queue up before appointment time I decided to walk around the streets. I noticed a nicely dressed young man coming out of embassy, talking on his phone and saying something about ‘lack of paper’. This added to my insecurity, because how can such a nicely dressed man be turned away because he didn’t have proper papers.

30 minutes later I arrived and I did see a small line of people outside. Two dark dressed security guys checked our passports and gave us instructions regarding the security check. No phone, cords or any electronic devices are allowed into the embassy.

I started conversing with another man, who was there for a business visa interview due to a conference in California. I was surprised that he too had to get a visa despite it not being ‘work’ and only for a 6 days stay. Proves to show how important it is, always to be aware of rules and regulations and your purpose of travel – so you don’t end up getting denied at border/customs.

After handing your phone etc. to some other security guards and yourself and your bag have been checked (like in the airport) you’re let inside a relatively small waiting room. Inside there was about 15 people waiting. You get a number and you wait for your name to be called. It took a very long time! —- Once it was my turn to get ‘checked-in’ I asked the woman, what time it was, only to find out that I’ve been waiting for 1 hour 20 minutes. During your check-in, you’re asked for your SEVIS fee and MRV fee receipts, your passport, your confirmation of visa application, your I-20 plus any other documents relating your financial situation. Also remember a medium-sized envelope already stamped. The woman asked me how I was going to pay for my stay, and a few questions regarding my visa application (change of my name when I was teenager, plus my experiences with my previous work) Then she told me that all the papers were going to be handed to the consul, who would be the one making the decision of my visa.

At this point I was really nervous. But then, my new friend (the guy with the business visa for 6 days) pointed out that Henrik Qvortrup was there applying for a visa. He’s probably not very known to Americans but in Denmark everybody knows and have an opinion about his work as a editor-in-chief at one of our colorful tabloids, his skills (or lack of) as a journalist etc. I thought it was interesting when I saw that he was turned away and came back 15 minutes later. Apparently he didn’t have all his papers in order either. I heard him say to the woman behind the counter(with his broken danish/english accent): “Yes, I am a journalist. But I do not know if I am famous!” … That made me giggle out loud. Really, Qvortrup?
Anyways, side track …

After my check-in it took approximately another 10 minutes when my name was called. She asked me what my purpose of the trip to the United States is, how I was going to financially support myself and after I nervously answered her questions she said: “You have been approved. You will get your visa in 2-4 days!” and handed me my documents.

Just like that! It’s been 5 years, 3 months and one week since I came to the United States the first time. 13 trips back and forth over the atlantic ocean and now I’m going to have a visa that allows me to stay and study until Dec, 31 2017!

I think THAT calls for a celebration!

(To all of you going through college application and visa application, please feel free to send me an email if you have doubts or are unsure of all the rules and things to be aware of. I wished I had a guide that would have helped me. It is tough and hard work – and it’s not cheap either. I started my college application in Dec, 2010. Since then I spend about $900-$1000 on fees. There’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of waiting. But now I can finally start enjoying my efforts! If you want help, again, feel free to email me at [email protected])

Thank you Embassy of the United States of America! 🙂

Status on NY dream no. 5

I’ve been talking about the different attempts and the progress in the ‘reaching of my dream’ over the course of a few blogs, Status on NY dream vol. 1-4*. Now it’s time for an update.

I realized I had to get a Form I-20 from the university before even being able to apply for a visa. This caused med a bit of anxiety and stress, but finally I have the paper! Got it – along with a message that I need to get an Assessment test before being able to register for classes.

I took the Assessment test (CAT) this past Thursday. It’s a reading, writing and math test. I wasn’t too nervous about the reading and writing part (that I believe I did pretty well) but the math part really freaked me  out. What will happen if I fail it? I’m not even sure. And the stupidest thing is I got the best grades in math just a few years ago. Guess it has to do with the fact that I wasn’t allowed any help besides a calculator and some of the questions, I simply didn’t understand!

On Dec 21, I’m going to get the results and I’ll be able to register for classes as well. As a part of this, I have to give proof of having being immunized for measles, mumps and rubella (which I have, and my doctor in DK is working on a translated version of my documents) I also have to pay a $100 commitment fee (is that subtracted from my tuition? I hope so!)

After I got my Form I-20, I did my DS-160 visa application, along with paying the SEVIS fee of $200. Booked my interview at the embassy in Denmark for Jan 3. ’12. (When I return to DK there’s another fee for the interview of about $150 I have to pay)

At the moment I’m trying to figure out how many scholarships there are available in Denmark for us ‘free-movers’ who are planning/responsible for all parts of our education. Most of the scholarships I’ve found is only available for master/ph.d ‘student’s and not for bachelors like myself. Also, the fact that I’m not enrolled in any Danish colleges/universities causes problems. One would think that WE that plan our own education abroad would be ‘favored equally’ with any other danish students – but no!

But you know what, it’s taken a long time to get here and now I’m most likely going to be back in NYC with a VISA in under a month – so who cares about the little things! I’ll figure a way to make it work, like I always do!

To be continued ….

ALSO:
* read previous chapters here:

http://www.iloveny.dk/2011/04/19/status-on-ny-dream/

http://www.iloveny.dk/2011/05/10/status-on-ny-dream-vol-2/

http://www.iloveny.dk/2011/06/17/status-on-ny-dream-vol-3/

http://www.iloveny.dk/2011/06/21/status-on-ny-dream-vol-4/


Still no visa.

This is getting on my nerves. If there’s anybody that deserves getting a visa I would be one of the first on the list. Have I not done everything the last 5 years in accordance to getting this dream fulfilled? Or am I fooling myself. Where did I go wrong?

I still need to prove I have about $14.000/year – right now, the only solution is someone willing to sponsor me, and understand that I wouldn’t really take their money because I have the money coming from scholarships in Denmark.

Anyone? *sigh*

This is stressing me out.

Also read: http://www.iloveny.dk/2011/10/08/application-for-the-immigration-certificate-of-eligibility-form-i-20/