With just a few days before I fly off to Beijing, it still hasn’t fully hit me that I will be fully immersed in the Chinese language and culture for two months! In order to prepare for this study abroad experience, I had to go through a brutal process of applying for an X2 student Chinese visa, which resulted in visiting the Washington D.C.’s consulate office 3 times.
I checked both the consulate’s website and the IES Pre-departure guide to ensure that I would have all my documents needed to get approval which included my passport, a typed visa application with an attached passport-sized headshot photo, and a copy of my JW202 stamped letter. Upon arrival at around 1 pm, the security guards informed me to take a number slip and asked if I had the documents mentioned before and in addition, my printed flight itinerary. Since I did not have my flight itinerary, they kindly directed me to an office within the building to print out the documents and pay a small fee. After waiting several hours and finding a number slip that was closer to the next calling number, I finally got called to a window and quickly handed all the required documents to the representative. He looked over all my documents, and then asked if I had my birth certificate. Confused, I responded that I did not have that on me because it was not listed on their website. Furthermore, he asked if my parents were born in the States, which I then responded that they weren’t but they are US citizens. He then tells me that I have to provide both my birth certificate and their naturalization certificates and hands back the application to me. Returning home confused and disappointed, I quickly gathered all the materials he asked for and returned the next office day at 9 am. When I was called up to the window, this time with a lady, I just handed out the original required documents needed and she approved the application without ever asking for my birth certificate or my parents’ naturalization certificates! The following day, I picked up the visa and paid the fee without facing any problems.
I’m not sure why this inconsistency happened, but I want to share this experience with you all to explain the importance of being extremely flexible when you are encountering a different culture. Although China is opening up its borders to the world, there are still some rules and policies that may not make sense to us as Americans. I anticipate even more confusing experiences like this when I’m actually abroad and I hope that I maintain a positive attitude when I deal with these situations!
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<p>I'm a senior studying Media and Communications & Chinese at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. I enjoy traveling, hiking, and delicious food. I am so excited to share all my new experiences in China with you all! Join me as I journey to find the tastiest dumplings, peking duck and noodles that Beijing has to offer while I balance my studies.</p>