How to get a Student Visa

One of the least talked about struggles of studying abroad is applying for a student visa. Unlike passports, obtaining a visa is a long, tedious process that cannot be expedited. Before you start dreaming about living in another country and traveling around the world… plan out how you are going to get this done. The visa application program differs depending on where you study abroad, so make sure you check with your abroad counselor as well as with your local consulate.

What is a student Visa?

In order to visit another country for longer than 90 days, you must have government approval. For students, this is approved as a “student visa.” In order to get your visa accepted, you must go through an application process and provide proof that you are enrolled in a school in your host country. This being said, you cannot apply for a visa before getting admitted to your program.

How do I get it?

There are a few different ways to apply for a visa, but each one of these takes time. Every country offers various ways of obtaining a visa, some stricter than others. Depending on the country you study abroad in, they will have you attend an application center or make an appointment at a consulate. Visa’s take about 6-8 weeks to be processed so make sure you take this into consideration when making an appointment.

1.) Make an appointment at your local consulate.

Months before you plan on traveling abroad, go online and make an appointment at the consulate, in the state of your home school. For example, if you go to the University of Texas and are planning on traveling to Barcelona make sure you make an appointment at the Spanish embassy in Texas. This is not always emphasized and has caused so many issues for students. These appointments need to be booked MONTHS in advance, as they fill up fast. Applying at a consulate is the cheapest option since you are not going through anyone else.

2.) Visa Application Center 

Some countries give you the option to apply for a visa at application centers. If this is the case for you, the process is way less stressful, but should still be taken seriously. (Spain does not allow this). This being said, make sure you get an appointment and give yourself enough time for it to be processed and sent to you.

3.) Travel Visa Services  

Many abroad programs offer visa programs that make it easy for students to apply. This can be pretty costly but is generally the easiest option. You will be required to send in all the paperwork along with your passport and proof of residency. They handle the rest and then mail you back your passport and vias. BUT, the process takes longer than other options AND means you will not have a passport for about two months. This being said, do not plan on traveling or leaving the country during that time because it will not be possible. (This happened to me and it sucked) Again, make sure you are proactive and give yourself enough time to send in all the required material.

Things to Consider

You will not be allowed to travel abroad without a visa. I have heard actual horror stories about students not being able to go because they didn’t figure out their visa situation. You don’t want to be one of those kids. Make sure you give yourself time and plan appointments far in advance. Although your study abroad coordinator might think she is giving you the correct information, double check with your local embassy that you are following the correct procedures.

 

 

Whole30 College Edition

 

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After an entire summer of traveling Europe, trying every kind of food possible and not doing much working out, I came back to school and needed a major cleanse. My mom and sister had done whole30 over the summer and looked freaking amazing. So the day I got back from Hawaii, I started the 30 days. Now that I have finished I thought I would recap on my struggles, give recommendations for college students and just share some of my thoughts on the experience.

What is Whole30?

Well to start, Whole30 is a 30-day restrictive dietary program that aims to eliminate all potential inflammatory foods and beverages. This means no added sugars, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy products, beans, soy products, as well as ANY processed foods. So say goodbye to pasta, bread, sushi etc. So you must be thinking, WTF can I eat?

– Proteins, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats.

First Week of Whole30 in College

The thing about this diet is you can’t half-ass it. You go all in or it simply won’t work. Lemme tell you… this is really hard when you’re in college and there is alcohol everywhere. The first three or four days were for sure the hardest. Your body is not used to the diet yet so you still have intense cravings for unhealthy snacks. I had to constantly make myself busy and avoid going near the kitchen. After the 4th day, my body honestly stopped craving food. I am SUCH a foodie so I never thought this would be possible. I started eating meals for energy, not because I wanted food. Whole30 calls it, “taming your sugar dragon” and I swear it works.

 Meals

Because I no longer live in the dorms, I have access to a kitchen, which let me tell you is a GAME CHANGER. The best part of me starting this diet was that I was forced to learn how to cook. Before this, I only really knew the basics. After this month I expanded my options and became quite the chef. Here are some yummy meal choices that I used over the past month.

 

Breakfast:

  • Poached eggs on half an avocado
  • Egg hash (Eggs, Spinach, onion, whole30 sausage)
  • Sweet Potato Toasts
  • Sunnyside up eggs with Whole30 bacon

Lunch:

  • Spaghetti Squash with ground turkey meat and whole30 marina sauce (sugar-free)
  • Teriyaki Chicken bowl (coconut amino)
  • Salads
  • Chicken and vegetable meal prepped container

Dinner:

  • Everything but bagel chicken wings with green beans
  • Burgers in lettuce (bun) with primal kitchen ketchup and sweet potato fries
  • Chicken lettuce wraps
  • Zucchini noodles with grilled shrimp

 

Week Two and Three

 By the second and third week, your body is used to eating clean. I no longer craved sweets, I was able to be around food that I couldn’t eat, and it honestly did not phase me. The one struggle I had, as any college kid probably would, was not drinking. Syllabus week was tough, but if you say strict I promise it’s worth it. What I did however notice was by week 3 I was not as excited to spend the night cooking meals. I began running out of groceries and didn’t have as much time to cook. This meant that meal prepping was super key.

 

Week Four

So close… but still so far. By week four I was used to the diet and I still did not have cravings, but I did start realizing how close I was to having a margarita & chips and guacamole. I had to really stay focused on making it to day 30. My school also had their first football game that weekend, so holding back from drinking was really hard. But I was determined.

Finally after 30 days of no sugar, no carbs, no drinks… I did it. And it feels so good.

 The Positives

Now that I am officially done with whole30 I can recap on everything I enjoyed over the past month.

  • After I hit the two-week mark my skin was glowing. I don’t know if it was because I stopped eating dairy, but my skin was insanely clear.
  • You stop craving bad food. This might have been the most shocking part for me. In the span of 30 days, you eliminate the need to constantly eat.
  • You feel energized throughout the day.
  • You learn how to cook and get creative with food.
  • You lose a ton of weight.

The Negatives

  • You quickly learn how to function without certain foods so it can be hard on your body when you start incorporating them back into your diet. (blog coming soon)
  • You realize how much sugar is in everything you eat, so it never sounds quite as appetizing.
  • After you start eating normally, your cravings come back.

Eating out

Try having a D1 athlete as your boyfriend who is trying to GAIN weight. This makes it very difficult when I’m trying to eat super clean and he is carb loading. What I found was on this diet it’s kind of hard to eat out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s doable but you WILL be that annoying girl at a restaurant who makes a million requests and substitutes all sides for salad (with no dressing.) The easiest way to get through these 30 days is to simply cook for yourself. You know exactly what is going into each dish, which eliminates hidden ingredients.

Workouts

My weekly routine typically consists of 5 to 6 workouts a week. Yes, I know this is more than most college kids, but after being a D1 athlete it was just a routine that my body was used to.

However, the first week I started whole30 I had just gotten a Brazilian blowout and a new tattoo, which means no sweating for 5 days. So, for the first week, I did not work out once. And guess what…I saw insane results. Usually, after burning 600 calories, I am constantly hungry throughout the day. This made it very easy for me to cut down on food and I noticed my legs got super slim. Within the first two weeks, I shed 6lbs. Once I began Orange Theory again I needed more food throughout the day.

 The Scale

I have a very bad habit of relying on the scale to give me results. At the start of this diet, I weighed myself every few days. During whole30 you are supposed to stay away from the scale, but I honestly couldn’t help it. However, throughout the 30 days, I stopped getting the urge to do so. By the end, I felt so amazing and didn’t need a number to reassure me.

 Tips

To sum it up, here are a few tips that will help you survive whole30

  • Keep Lara bars on you at ALL times
  • Learn to love eggs
  • Meal prep on Sundays
  • Pay the extra money for primal kitchen condiments
  • Constantly look at labels, even if you assume there is no sugar, there usually is!
  • Choose a month that you are not super busy (& not during football season)