The Big V…Part 2!

So after that last trip to the US Embassy that left me physically sick I was hoping they were a thing of  the past! But becoming Mrs Richter meant I had to get a new passport and with that a new visa. So sadly a trip to the US Embassy was back on the cards! Yep scary times were back! This was the part of getting married that I was definitely NOT looking forward to! But it had to be done if I wanted to go back to Atlanta and to the German! So after filling in the relevant forms online I booked an appointment for an interview – I was nervous doing this never mind the actual interview and it was just 4 days away….ARGH!!! Oh and it was at 8am, that meant an overnight stopover in London to make sure I didn’t miss it!

Ma Cook decided to come with me so we booked train tickets and a hotel room (sadly it wasn’t within walking distance of the Embassy – they were just too blummin expensive!!) and prepared ourselves for our trip to the big smoke! Ma Cook wanted to take 2 pairs of shoes along with a selection of tops for just one night – I soon made sure she narrowed it down so there was enough room for my stuff in the suitcase!

Tuesday morning came around and we headed to the train station with our little wheely suitcase, my brand spanking new shiny passport (that I got the week before after a trip to Liverpool for the day that left me £128 lighter!!!) and the essential paperwork for getting that all important visa that would get me back into the US of A!! I was already getting nervous.

We made it to London and found our hotel just off High Street Kensington but we couldn’t check in yet – our room wasn’t ready. This meant leaving the suitcase with that aforementioned all important paperwork in. Now I’m not saying the hotel would have rifled through my case, not at all! But I certainly didn’t want that to disappear! So I made sure it was padlocked in before we trotted off for a look around London!

But I wasn’t really feeling it…especially after we strolled past the US Embassy! I already had visions of my last trip and the 3 HOURS I spent nervously picking my nails and hoping for a big fat yes! It did not make me feel good at all!!! But I plodded on, in a feeling kind of sick mood, and went to see if Liz was in at Buckingham Palace (turns out she was, the flag was up!) checked out the shops of Oxford Street and the lights at Picadilly Circus before heading back to the hotel, having some food and attempting to sleep! This was the tough bit, I was worried I was going to miss my alarm, sleep in and ruin my chances of a new Big V!

But 6am came round though and the alarm went off…it was time to go, well once I’d had a shower and stuff! I don’t think turning up with a bed head, morning breath and my pjamas on!! I smartened myself up and picked up this…

Don't lose it!!

Don’t lose it!!

Yep it’s that all important paperwork!! We jumped into a cab and headed to the US Embassy where I joined the end of the visa queue, full of others with all important documents like mine, all wanting a visa but for all different things! By this time it was 7:30am, I was half an hour early but we were allowed to go in! I was kind of used to this now, I’d done it before! They checked my documents, sent me through security (where I had to take my belt, watch and necklace off to prevent me beebing!!) and headed inside for round 2. We were ON!

The lady on reception checked my documents (again!) scanned them and stuck some stickers onto them, then once again told me to head up the stairs, take a seat and wait for my  number to be called. Last time I did this, as you all know, the room was so full there was nowhere to sit. This time though, thanks to an early morning appointment the room was practically empty! RESULT!! I was hoping this meant a quicker trip in and out, less nail picking and less stress. Here’s hoping! I sat down with my number (This time it was E951) and my new friend I’d made in the queue – she was an air hostess needing to renew her work visa!

We sat chatting for awhile until 8am came around and the numbers started to be called. Not mine, not mine, not mine, not mine…MINE!!! I think it must have been about 20 minutes – a HUGE improvement on the hour and a half spent waiting at my last visit! Now I kind of new what to expect, this wasn’t going to be my interview and they were just going to take my documents. Not the scary part! So I headed on up to window number 15 and did my stuff! It was a lovely lady who congratulated me on my wedding, took my stuff and told me to sit back down, fill in the blue form to get my passport returned if I’m successful and wait for my interview – the scary part!!!

Now the nerves were kicking in. What if they said no? I’d be married with a husband living and working in American and me stuck in England! Not the best way to start married life! Anyway I waited, chatted with my new Embassy friends and then…E951 to window number 23. This was it. Interview time. Eeeeek!! So off I went and behind the window was a lovely American man who had a picture of the German’s visa in front of him. I said hello with a friendly smile on my face and waited for his questions…

‘So this is your husband then?’ pointing to the picture of the German. ‘Yes’ I replied. ‘How long have you been married?’ he asked. ‘Three weeks’ I replied. ‘How long have you been together? he asked. ‘3 years in October but I knew him as a friend before that.’ I replied. ‘What does he do?’ he asked. ‘He sells frozen cakes. His job is to build up the business and get them into the major supermarket chains’ I said showing him a letter from the German’s work stating how long he’d worked there and that I was now his spouse. Then he went silent. This was it. Decision time. I waited for a couple of minutes, well it felt longer than that, and then heard the words…’I’m going to issue your visa.’ YES!!!! I was back in the country!!!!! Woooooooooooo!!! I was armed with pictures of the German and I throughout the years and our wedding day after my last visit but this guy wasn’t interested in them and didn’t even ask!! Slightly disappointing after I’d gone to the trouble of printing them all off!!

But off I skipped to pay for it (yep another $105 to add to the $270 it cost to set up the interview!!) took it back to the window, walked out with that blue sheet of paper and paid to get my passport back!!! The American dream is continuing with a new name, passport and visa!!! But this also means my days as a temporary lady of leisure may soon be over…getting married and getting a new visa means I am now allowed to get a job. And the German isn’t letting me pass the opportunity up! He’s already been onto the lawyer to get me a work permit!

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Hit the road Rach…Part 2!

So as we all know (I put it out there in my last blog post!) I had my driving test yesterday. Now I’ve been driving for the last 12 years after passing my test in England at the tender age of 17 so taking another test felt a little bit like going back in time! But the German told me a Georgia Drivers Licence was needed firstly to make the car insurance cheaper but also because you can only drive on a UK licence for a year!

So at 1:30pm yesterday (after waiting all morning for Ikea to come and pick up some unwanted furniture – they came just in time!!) I headed on down to here…

IMG_2293

Yep the Georgia Department of Driver Services ready for my 1:40pm test. Now this place is NEVER empty…there are always massive queues and like the aforementioned Big V interview, it involves getting a number and waiting for your name to be called to the window. I was under the impression that having an appointment booked would mean it would take place on time…how wrong was I?

So for the second time I filled in the application form (which included my height, eye colour and weight?!?! Weight – why the hell you need that on a driver’s licence I have no idea – who needs to know that?!! Needless to say I *may* have knocked off a couple of pounds!!) and headed off to find a seat which was VERY difficult. It was the busiest I had ever seen it – and it was my fourth trip there after going there with the German twice!

I sat and waited, and waited, and waited and when it got to 2:30pm I was kind of worried I might have missed my slot by not speaking up so I bobbed up to a window (and probably had a hundred angry eyes burning into the back of my head thinking ‘what the hell is she doing – she better not get served before me – she should wait her turn blah blah blah!) and quickly asked the lady – sadly there was no quick fix – I had to wait for my number and one employee said the current wait time was 2 hours. Great. On the plus side at least my phone was now working (After complaining to Orange again they miraculously got the unlocking code to me within 24 hours!) so I could pass some time on the delights of Facebook, whatsapp and the BBC news app (yep the journo is still in there!)

Then after about an hour (I beat the person I was sitting next to who go there before me and was still sitting there when I went up to the window!! I’m sure he secretly hated me!!) it was my turn – I had my photo taken again and signed my name badly again on the computer screen! It wasn’t great. Anyway I was told to pull the car up to the curb (very American I know!!) and wait for the examiner. So I did.

Now having already taken a test in England many moons ago I was feeling kind of confident – I can drive and I have been for years! It was the parking I was worried about especially in my SUV! I was all set for the test in the hire car that had a camera on the back but mine doesn’t so I was slightly worried! Oh and not forgetting the steering wheel is on the wrong side to what I’m used to!

But the examiner came and off we went, after I’d showed him I could work the indicators, brake and horn, into another part of the car park! Yep no actual roads involved yet! I had to do an emergency stop…tick! Then reverse in a straight line…tick! And then parallel park…this was the tricky one but…tick! Then I reversed into a parking spot…tick! And then we went out on the road for all of 5 minutes. We got back to the car park and that was it…test done and I passed!! Yay!

Now what’s that I hear you say? Your test lasted only 10 minutes? Yep that’s right – 10 minutes and I could legally drive on the road. Now this wasn’t a special test because I’d been driving for 12 years already – that was the test 16/17 year olds take before they’re allowed on the road! There’s no half an hour around the roads of a certain town, no 3 point turn, no hill starts and because cars are all automatic over here there’s none of that clutch control nonsense! Just a 10 minute test, 5 of which is taken in a car park! There’s no wonder people out here seem to struggle on the road!! I’ve already said to the German if we ever have an accident (touch wood we never do – go one touch some wood!!!) it won’t be our fault!! In fact the teenager who took her test before me came back into the car park and seriously mounted the curb when she pulled around the corner but she still passed…there’s no hope!!

So that’s it – I’m now officially a Georgia driver!! Another thing to tick off the list!

Hit the road Rach…

Sorry, sorry, sorry! It appears I went AWOL again and once again we’re blaming furniture and cars but fear not the furniture shopping is now complete (you have no idea how good it felt to walk out of the last shop – A-MA-ZING!!) and both cars have now been picked up! Things are starting to finally come together!

So the next thing on my list (put together for me by the German!) was to get myself a Georgia Driver’s (yep driver’s not driving like back in good old Blighty!!) Licence. Having held a UK licence for the last 12 years this you would think would be pretty simple and with American’s only driving automatic cars it was about to get even simpler! But they have some mad road rules that if you ask me, are just plain daft!!

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Crossing the pond…The Big V!

So I’m back for more…yep this is post 2 and it took me less than 24 hours to get here! Well I say less than 24 hours it might actually be around 24 hours but hey who’s counting?!

So this blog is gonna take you back, firstly because I need to tell the whole story of moving and secondly having only been here for 2 weeks there isn’t that much to tell you about! So we’re going back…back to when the first ‘shall we move to America’ conversation took place between me and the German!

Now as you already know this question resulted in a ‘HELL YES’ answer…but what we didn’t know is that it isn’t as easy as you think to get across that big pond and start a new life in the states…mainly because of US immigration. Yep they’re tough nuts to crack! So the big mission to get Rachel and Toby to America began!

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