Part 2: Clouds gather, but the sun breaks through!
In late November, I hadn’t yet heard back from any of the accommodation places that I had applied to. As time was passing, I called the phone number that was given on the visa website that the University of Vienna had directed me to in order to see if I could book an appointment to lodge my application (even though I didn’t yet have all the documents that I would need to actually attend the appointment). Their opening hours were from 9am to noon. I was on the phone from 9am to noon, calling constantly but never getting through. There was no hold option – the phone rang about five times, then you were politely informed by the robot operator that nobody could come to the phone right now, and to please call again later. I also sent an email to the email address that the website had provided. At this stage, the first inkling of a suspicion that the universe was up to something was beginning to blossom in my mind.
The next day, I tried calling again. Again, from 9am to 12 noon. At 11:59am, I finally got through. The lady I spoke to told me to send an email and then hung up. How helpful.
The following day, I received a reply to my email. As it turns out, this website (that the University of Vienna had directed me to) was NOT where I could book an appointment for a visa. I had to go to another website instead and book through there. At this stage, I was feeling pretty peeved (and wondering why the woman on the phone yesterday hadn’t just told me that).
Around this time, I finally received an offer for accommodation. Hooray! The universe wasn’t conspiring against me after all! (Spoiler alert: it still was.) All I needed to do now was contact the accommodation provider in order to get a document of proof of accommodation. Instead of waiting to receive this document, I decided to go ahead and book an appointment to apply for my visa, and hope that the document came before my appointment. It was now early December and there were no more available appointments in Canberra before I was due to fly back home to Northern NSW. So I booked an appointment in Brisbane for the following Tuesday: December the 6th. Things were on track once more!
Brisbane is about a three-hour commute from my house in NSW – first, I drive to the train station in the Gold Coast, then I catch the train to Brisbane. I got the proof of accommodation the very morning of my appointment in Brisbane (so things worked out perfectly, if a little tight), and I printed it off in the Queensland National Library on my way to the visa office.
My appointment was for 1:30pm. I was in the waiting room until 3:30pm, then I was finally seen by someone (two hours after my appointment was supposed to start). The appointment was supposed to only go for half an hour, but I was in there until 5pm. The woman who was processing my application was clearly training for this job. She couldn’t answer any of my questions because she didn’t know the answers, and she was constantly ringing her superiors (who for some unknown reason were not present). She asked me more than once if I could reschedule this appointment for tomorrow. I explained that I couldn’t, because I lived three hours away and it would be extremely inconvenient for me to have to come back. Eventually, everything was done and I went home. I was supposed to allow 15 working days for my visa application to be processed once it got to the embassy in Canberra, so by my calculations it should come just before I was due to leave the country on the 4th of January. Phew! Today had been very annoying and unpromising, but it looked like everything would be okay.
The universe heard my optimism and laughed in my face.
Vienna’s story will continue soon – tune in next time to see what befalls the star of our story next!