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Claudia Willen's Day Off

Posted by on Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Art, College Life, College of Arts and Science, Culture, Diversity, Family, Food, General Information, Student Life, Study Abroad.

Inspired by the one and only Ferris Bueller, I decided to book a flight for this past Wednesday and spend my class-free Thursday roaming the streets of Chicago.

Okay, only half true.

I was inspired by the classic coming-of-age film, but my trip was definitely not as spontaneous and care-free as I like to make it sound. The real reason I found myself on a plane last Wednesday was to get my Student Visa for my semester abroad through the Vanderbilt program, CASA. Yep, because I’m originally from Ohio, I had to fly to Chicago for a fifteen-minute appointment at the Spanish Consulate. The photos of my friends on sailboats in Capri or scaling mountains in Chile seriously underplay the legwork that goes into abroad. Given the fact that the visa takes 6-8 weeks to go through and I don’t have any class on Thursdays, I went ahead and scheduled my flight on a Wednesday evening for an appointment on Thursday at noon.

Triple checking that I had my passport (don’t laugh, I’ve made this fatal mistake before) and the eight million documents proving that I was a legitimate candidate for the visa, I arrived in Chicago after what seemed like the longest day ever. Luckily, my older cousin lives in Chicago and let me crash in her apartment for the night.

With the morning free before noon, the world was my oyster. My cousin had work early in the morning so I planned out my mini vacation on my own. As it goes, the Spanish Consulate happens to be on Michigan Avenue, one of the most well-known streets in the city. Swearing to my parents that I was there strictly on business (obviously), I ate a delicious brunch and spent the day exploring the Art Institute of Chicago (a museum with an Impressionist and American Art collection I had been dying to see)—not bad for a weekday adventure. See? Told you I wasn’t totally off base with the Ferris Bueller reference.

The appointment was easy enough. Because I had made sure that I had two copies of everything the Chicago Consulate needed, I was good to go. A fair warning: do your research if you have to go through the student visa process. If you show up without the right documents or amount of copies, they will turn you away and tell you to reschedule. Fake crying won’t help and they will NOT care that you’re coming from Nashville/California/Africa and/or that your mother would likely make your life miserable.

My flight back at 5:00 pm gave me about two hours to kill. I went to a nearby park and read my book in the 60 degree, sunny day. **Sheer happiness**. By the time the clock read 2:30 PM, I realized that my mini vacation from school had come to an end. So, I didn’t have a wild story from my quick turnaround trip, but I could check student visa off the list and be one step closer to Seville.

A hop, a skip, and a quick Southwest plane ride later, I was at my friend’s birthday dinner at Chuy’s back in Nashville like my Chi-town day had never happened.

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