Wednesday, August 18, 2004

How I learned to start worrying and hate the prof

For the last six months, I've been under the impression that I was going to spend the upcoming school year studying at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Most of you have been under this impression as well, mostly because I will not shut up about it. And I guess also because the title of this blog is "The Adventures of Eric in Scotland." Whatever. The point is, a several weeks ago I discovered that I had not actually been offered a place at the University of Aberdeen. We'll send you a letter of offer, they told me, as soon as you forward us a second letter of recommendation.

Excuse me?

It appeared that the man who had agreed to write my second letter of recommendation, well, he never got around to it. I wish I could at least confirm this excuse, but he has stopped responding to any of my attempts to contact him. What the hell? Did someone show him my criminal record?

This is probably my own fault. The first time I approached him, it went something like this:

Eric: I was wondering if you would write me a letter of recommendation.

Professor: Sure, I would love to!

Eric: Great! Do you want to know my name or where to send the letter?

Professor: [has left the room]

I needed a second letter of recommendation fast -- one letter was good enough to apply for the UW study abroad program, but the University of Aberdeen itself required at least two. As soon as they received a second letter, they would officially offer to let me study at their school. So I went through my mental files on the various film professors I've had and discovered that the only one I didn't think was an idiot was, in fact, the author of my first letter.

So this professor wasn't my favorite, but I thought he would do it. And he said he would, which was promising. But I can't put "promising" in an envelope and send to Aberdeen and expect to get a letter of offer in return. And as it turned out, the situation became less and less promising with each passing day. Before the lecture, as he came to my name in the roll call, he would say, "Eric, see me after class. I need the address to send that letter of recommendation." Each day I would email it to him. The next day he would pull me aside again and tell me he received my email, but accidentally deleted it, could I send it again? This went on for two weeks. Eventually I tacked the address to his office door, right at eye level, so he couldn't miss it. He didn't ask for the address again after that. I foolishly took this to mean that he finally had it.

The last time I spoke to him, he told me the letter was sitting on his desk and he would mail it first thing the next morning. I believed him, because I was assuming he wasn't SATAN. I stopped worrying about it and resumed fantasizing about living in a flat with Marianne and eating pie until we vomit. And, you know, all the other stuff I'm going to do there.

Cut to a few weeks ago. I have my plane ticket, my international student ID, the UW has me registered for foreign study next year, I've arranged for a place to live in Aberdeen, all of it. I'm happy and excited, I'm saying goodbye to everyone and I'm even starting to pack a little. Just the warm clothes for now. I happen to email someone at the University of Aberdeen, and she tells me they're still not going to let me study there until I send them a second letter of recommendation.

And that's where this entry started.

All of a sudden, I have to take care of a million things everyone else took care of months ago. I have to arrange for a second letter of recommendation, wait to receive a letter of offer, send my letter of acceptance of their offer, wait to receive their letter of acceptance of me into their student body, then forward this letter to the British consulate in Los Angeles, which is the closest one that will give me a visa, which I need to get my ass into the UK at all. And all this has to be done before I leave the country on September 7th.

The good news is that between then and now, I've accomplished most of this stuff. I found another professor to write me a letter, and after a series of speedy exchanges with the University of Aberdeen (with a lot of help from UPS) I overnighted my visa application to the British consulate last week. It should take two weeks to process, and ought to reach me about a week before I leave.

Plot twist: Instead of sending me a visa, someone at the consulate left a message saying they needed to speak with me. And now they're not returning my calls. Who knows? Maybe someone showed them the same stuff my professor saw.


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