Today, at this moment, I should be enjoying my last night in Sydney. I should be out at an authentic Aussie barbeque; walking on the beach with fellow classmates. I should be contemplating whether I should go to bed now, at this cold hour just after midnight, so I can get up early and catch my flight to Brisbane, or if I should enjoy my last night here in Sydney to its fullest and struggle through the tiredness of my first day in my new home.
Tomorrow in the early afternoon, I should be meeting up with an old friend, moving into my house in Brisbane, and perhaps meeting my housemates for the first time. In the following days I should be attending my multiple-day orientation, getting used to the city of St. Lucia, and familiarizing myself with the University of Queensland. By the time the semester starts on July 27th, I should be comfortable in my new city and familiar with the layout of my class schedule.
Instead, today I am still sitting in my parents’ house in central Wisconsin.
I will now arrive in Brisbane much later – on July 25th – and will take a very roundabout flight to get there. Since my pre-semester trip to Sydney had to be cancelled, I will not be staying in Sydney, but will still be stopping there to fly to Brisbane anyway. It is cheaper to change the time of my original flights than it is to cancel and purchase new ones.
But what happened?
I know I’m a noob at travelling, especially internationally, but for all future travelers, I strongly recommend that you consistently make sure to check the status of your visa – even if you are applying for one that normally flies through the system.
I knew something was wrong when I wasn’t getting any confirmation of my visa decision or further information about my visa after about a month since I lodged my application. I even emailed my study abroad advisors with my concerns. However, it wasn’t until just over a week before I was going to leave for Sydney that I received an email from the Australian border patrol asking me to take an immigration health examination at a certified clinic – the nearest being in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
To say the least, I did not take this well.
With this new information, it would be at least two to three weeks before I would be able to leave instead of the few days I had my mind set on. It also isn’t necessarily cheap to delay flights, or fun to miss out on hiking in Sydney and feeding koala bears and kangaroos like I had planned.
Although it was hugely disappointing, and I missed out on what I feel was nearly a month of my experience abroad, based on what happened this time, I will never again make plans and purchase flights until my visa decision is documented, emailed to me, and looking me right in the face.
Wish me well and that my luck turns around soon,