Two nights ago I received my acceptance email from Kansai Gaidai. I woke up around 2am and just so happened to check my email for some reason and saw it. I was thrilled (in the sleepiest way possible) and went back to sleep with a lopsided grin on my face and the sleep-fuzzy idea that everything was finally coming together and I was actually going to Japan for 6 months.
By the time I woke up to walk my dogs with my brother at 5am, that was no longer true:
I might not be able to get my student visa before leaving the States.
Yes, you read that right. Kansai Gaidai (as per their email yesterday morning) stated that if they applied for my Certificate of Eligibility now, it would not come through until just before I leave, not giving me enough time to get my student visa. Instead, they recommend I come into Japan on a tourist visa then get it changed to a student visa while there. There was a confusing bit about whether I would have to go to South Korea to actually get it changed but I’m not sure.
I’d love to go to South Korea! But not to get a visa straightened out!
I called the nearest Japanese Consulate to my house and asked them what that would entail and what it meant. They strongly recommend I do not enter with a tourist visa. First and foremost, my flights in and out of Japan (which I have already purchased) exceed the 90 limit for a tourist visa. Secondly, Japan doesn’t look kindly upon people who come in with the wrong visa type then try change it. They might not approve it.
Overall, pretty sucky, right?
The Consulate told me to ask Kansai Gaidai if there was anyway to expedite the CoE. I emailed them yesterday afternoon and never received a reply (nearly 24 hours later!) which was disheartening.
It would have been more disheartening had I not taken matters into my own hands.
After I sent the email, I spent a good amount of time panicking about the whole situation and trying to figure out what I’d do if they told me they couldn’t expedite the dang thing. I jumped to extreme measures in my head and decided (rather than canceling a portion of my trip: Summer – can’t do! My best friend is coming! Fall – I’d lose more than half the trip!) I would cancel my arrangements with the Wahaha language school and then at the end of the Summer program fly back to the US for three weeks then fly back late August for the Fall semester. This would enable me to go on the summer trip on a tourist visa then come back to the States, get my student visa processed then go back.
Neither of my mothers thought this was a good idea. At all. The new ticket I would have to add in between my original one would cost the same as my three weeks at Wahaha but with no actual benefit besides sitting on a plane.
Luckily, my non-biological mother had a stroke of brilliance. She asked, whilst we sat at dinner discussing this predicament, if I had contacted the other schools I had applied to about how long it would take them to get me the CoE.
The clouds parted and I saw the genius in her words. Seinan Gakuin University always knew I would be in Japan from June 28th because they ran the Summer program! They had even mentioned when I applied to both that they would take special steps with my visa stuff since I’d need it sooner. I quickly ran off and emailed them.
At around 3am I woke up and checked my email. Seinan said they were all good on their side. I just needed to fill out the application form and get it to the asap and we’d be set.
So, ladies and gents of the interwebs, I am now going to Seinan Gakuin University for a Summer Program, followed by Wahaha Language program for three weeks, then returning to Seinan Gakuin for the Fall Semester.
Who saw that coming?
This means I spend my whole 6 months in Fukuoka (besides my short trip to Tokyo, a short trip to someplace I don’t remember as part of the Summer program, and a short trip to Kyoto during the Semester).
Holy shiitake mushrooms, guys!!
A problem and resolution in a 24 hour period?!!!!
It was intense. I came close to crying. Sitting here on the other side of it, I am immensely relieved and all sorts of giddy. I am going to Japan for 6 interrupted months.
Every hurdle that has come my way makes the happiness and excitement I feel right now even sweeter. This process hasn’t been easy and there have been several times when my mother has turned to me and said “I don’t know… It feels like the world just doesn’t want you to go.” There were times when I felt like that too.
But I am going.
My life is crazy.
(Please note: As with a lot of pictures, the above aren’t mind and were found via google!)