My Visa Application Adventure in San Francisco

Headshot of Isabella Daltoso.
Isabella Daltoso
January 18, 2023
Sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco, California

Riiiiiinnnng!!!! My alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. I jumped out of bed, but I hadn’t slept at all. I was too focused on the last-minute details for my study abroad visa application. I dressed in comfy clothes for the plane and grabbed my shoes and backpack. My roommate Kaitlyn was still in her room getting ready for our flight to San Francisco. We were headed to the VFS Global Center to apply for our Austrian Visas. 

At 5:45 a.m., we left our apartment for the SeaTac airport. Our flight wasn’t until 10:00 a.m., but we were too nervous to wait any longer. By 7:00 a.m., we were eating breakfast burritos in the airport Qdoba. “No! I have everything I need and do not need to go through my documents again!” I said to Kaitlyn as I opened up my backpack to find my university issued study abroad folder. We were both pretty nervous. The internet has a lot of visa application horror stories, and we had read them all. We would need to trust our preparation, and do our best to stay calm. 

After a two-hour nap of a flight, we landed in San Francisco. We took an Uber to our hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf and settled in. I again resisted the urge to go over my documents. I knew my passport and visa photos were in the front pocket of my folder, and everything else was organized in the order of the checklist from IES Abroad, plus extra copies. We had arrived a day early, and left the hotel for a bit of sightseeing. We made sure to hit all the popular tourist spots and make the most of our quick trip to San Francisco. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, and Pier 39. We went to bed early so we would be ready to go for our morning appointments at VFS Global. 

We used the address from the VFS website and had our Uber drop us off near the building in San Francisco’s financial district. As we looked around, we were not sure which building was the right one. We walked along and followed the numbers, but could not see a building marked with the number of the address. Kaitlyn’s appointment was only 30 minutes away, and we felt completely lost. As we debated whether to ask someone for directions, Kaitlyn noticed the number printed high above our view on one of the office buildings. I breathed a sigh of relief as we crossed the street. We went up to the fifth floor and checked in with plenty of time for our appointments. We waited for a bit, and then Kaitlyn’s number was called. While she took her place at the interview table, Ellie, our other roommate, turned the corner and entered the room. I was happy to see that Ellie found the location, and she sat down next to me. She and Caitlyn, our fourth roommate, drove to San Francisco the day before while Kaitlyn and I flew. It was a happy reunion in a new city. We anxiously awaited our turn, and as soon as Kaitlyn’s interview finished, my number was called. The process was very simple. I was able to present my documents as they were called, and the staff was friendly and helpful. After my interview, they took my biometrics and I was all done! 

We celebrated our finished appointments with more sightseeing. We found a fascinating ship museum…the SS Jeremiah O’Brien which was built during WW2, mostly by women! We met up with Caitlyn and Ellie to tour the ship, and then went to see the seals at Pier 39 once more before Kaitlyn and I split off to go back to the airport. 

This was the mini adventure before our big adventure in Vienna. I found that traveling to San Francisco was good practice before leaving home for my study abroad trip. Getting your visa means being responsible in keeping track of your required documents and doing your research before you go. The checklists provided by IES Abroad and VFS are super helpful, and you should start gathering your documents early because there are a lot of items. Don’t wait until the last minute or you will be stressed and feel unprepared. 

It was super fun to travel with my friends, and we all were able to stay safe using a buddy system. If you need to get a visa, research the city you are applying in and find some fun things to do while you are there. It will make your trip all the more worthwhile.

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Headshot of Isabella Daltoso.

Isabella Daltoso

My name is Isabella Daltoso, and I am a senior at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). I am a vocal performance major and a dance minor. I love all things music and opera, and I am so happy to be spending my spring semester in Vienna as part of the IES Vienna Music Program. I love to write and am a consultant at the PLU Writing Center. I have also been a newswriter for PLU’s Marketing and Communications department. When I am not singing, studying, or writing, I love to spend time with my friends and family, especially my younger siblings.

2023 Spring
Home University:
Pacific Lutheran University
Voice Performance
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