Friday, December 31, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about Chilean visas

Hello again! I hope the holiday season all went well for you. Here in Wisconsin, at least, we have like forty degree weather. I'm wearing shorts (this is not a lie!), but the reason is related to my packing efforts, not the weather (although that is a story for another time). Today I'm going to talk about my VISA!

For those who don't know, here is the official wikipedia definition of a visa:
A visa (from the Latin charta visa, lit. "paper that has been seen"[1]) is an indication that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was "issued", subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry

So basically, I need a special sheet of paper to live in Chile for longer than 90 days (which I will be doing). However, visas are ridiculously tedious and time consuming, and I can't even fully complete it until I have a family placement and a departure date (neither of which i have).

FUN FACT FOR YOU: all of my AFS information comes from a "portal" through which I applied and pay and get important paperwork. I sign on almost every day, because that would be where I find my host family and travel information and everything. I signed on after Christmas, when it said "new information" under the heading "travel notifications". I was very excited, naturally, because that would mean I have a departure date! Unfortunately, when I clicked on the link, the "new information" was just two words: "No Record". So a lot of excitement for nothing. Oh well, it means I'm having information soon, hopefully!

Back to my visa. There are a few things I can do already, like my fingerprints and HIV test, both of which i completed over break. For my fingerprints, I went to the University's police station, paid $10, and had a scary looking man take my fingerprints for me. I thought it was cool, though, and took a picture, which you can see here (if i figure out how to put pictures into the blog).
We immediately sent the prints, along with the paperwork for my background check, to the FBI, and i should get my results back someday.

Next, I got my HIV test. I had never gotten blood drawn, but it was surprisingly painless and easy. The lady drawing blood was really nice, and they only took out two vials. A few days later, we got the results: NEGATIVE! What a surprise :)

So that is all the visa stuff i have completed so far. I also need to do things like get three passport size pictures, but all of that sort of stuff is easy. Once I get a placement, that's when everything will get exciting.

I'll try to update again soon--I keep brainstorming blog post ideas when I'm bored. Cross your fingers for a placement for me soon!

And happy new year :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

one thousand, two hundred and fifty five.

What an exciting November!

First, I want to thank everyone for their incredible support. Although my chipin widget only says $225, my current total is actually $1,255. This fundraising endeavor has been so much more successful than I never imagined. Just typing that total astounds me--it's been so exciting to get to share this adventure with so many people.

I'm sorry for not posting earlier. I've been busy writing letters and thank you notes, plus things for school. Student Council just finished their annual food drive and I was very involved in the planning, counting, and packaging of food.

Now that I have two and a half months until my departure, everything is getting more intense. I'm finishing up my background check request and I'll be sending that into the FBI soon. I have my HIV blood test scheduled. These are both for my visa that I'm working on. It's a lot more work than i expected--it includes notarized paperwork, health forms, photos, and an in-person appointment, just to name a few. It's exciting though--I love paperwork and file folders and mail.

On an even more exciting note, my family is seriously considering getting a host son during the time I'm away. The logistics have been hard to work out but it's an exciting opportunity. Right now we're looking at boys from Brazil, Chile, and Bolivia.

I still haven't gotten my own host family, and I probably won't until late January or even early February. I'll write again soon and talk about AFS and why I want to go on exchange.

Thanks again!

P.S: is a really fun site where all of the blogs of students on exchange with AFS can be read. I spend a lot of time there. You should check it out!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Hello! I see you've found my blog.

My name is Nikki and I'm 16 years old. I'm from Madison, a medium-sized progressive city in southern Wisconsin. I recently was accepted to be an exchange student for a semester with AFS (American Field Service). AFS is a non-profit organization that sends students around the world to live in foreign countries and experience new cultures. AFS-USA sends over 1,500 students abroad each year.

I was accepted to live for a semester in Chile, my first choice. I don’t know where I’ll be living yet, or with what family. I should find out sometime in January. I leave in late February and come back in late July. The application process was very involved, including a doctor’s checkup, sending my transcript, getting teacher recommendations, and a family interview. My parents have been very supportive emotionally and financially throughout this process, but let me do most of the work.
I have a couple goals for this exchange. First and foremost, I want to greatly improve my Spanish. Being immersed is the best way to do that. Also, I’d like to make friends from around the world, become more independent, and feel confident outside my comfort zone. I often feel uncomfortable being “different”, but part of going on exchange is being different, and I’m going to try to embrace that.

This opportunity is a significant financial investment. Because this is my dream, I want to be involved in the fundraising process. AFS encourages students to raise money. Last summer I earned more than $1500 working at our local boathouse. I’m trying to raise another $1500 through donations and other fundraising efforts. I am contacting you now to ask for your help with this fundraising process.

Please consider making a donation towards my exchange. I plan to keep this blog updated regularly before and during my exchange so that you can stay in touch with my adventures. You can donate through the "ChipIn!" widget in the upper corner of my blog, or send a check to me. If you need to get my address, don't hesitate to email me at

No donation is too small. Every dollar i raise helps me get closer to my goal. Even if you do not choose to donate, please stay updated on my experience by checking my blog or emailing me. Additionally, if you know anyone who might be interested in helping me sponsor this experience, please pass on this blog link.

Thank you so much for your time. I'm excited to get started on this adventure!