My visa information has arrived.
I checked my email today, somewhat pessimistically, thinking that I'd only have spam. But the very first new email in my inbox was an urgent one from AFS: "IMPORTANT - AFS Finland Visa Instructions" read the subject line. On the side I saw a little vibrant red exclamation point. I couldn't believe it at all.
I suppose I've entered that part of the pre-foreign exchange that gets really hard. The really hard, really exciting part where things start to feel a bit more real- even if only a little bit. I've got my host family (whom, I'd like to add, I feel so lucky to be spending these upcoming months with, and I can't wait to meet them), I've got an approximate departure date (24 August- 127 days!), and I've made some really amazing friends from all over the world who are going to Finland in the upcoming months too (if you're going to Finland in a few months too with AFS, and you're on Facebook, leave me a comment or something! I can add you to the AFS Suomen group so you can meet the rest of us). The only thing that I seemed to be missing was my visa, and for the most part, I had put that out of my mind. I thought I wouldn't have to organize all the paperwork until next month or so. But today I had my pleasant surprise, although it is a bit intimidating too.
The first thing I need to do to obtain my visa is to fill out a residency permit that AFS sent me. My first impression of the form was that it seemed very straightforward, and that Finnish stationary looks pretty damn cool. I respect a country that has really good stationary. But besides being on a great piece of stationary, the residency permit itself looks a bit challenging (I'm really afraid that I'll mess up somehow), and AFS says that the Finland visa is one of the longer visas to complete probably because... I'll also have to go to the nearest Finnish consulate (about 600 miles away from me) and have them help me finish the visa application. I suppose I don't really know what happens after that in the whole process.
Now comes the real nitty-gritty part. The part where I set my focus and try to accomplish what I need. The future just seems to be starting for me, and I can't... believe it. It is so immensely hard to fathom what's about to happen to me. I have spent so many years in my tiny little town, on my tiny little island wondering what it would be like to really go out into the world and experience things. What it would be like to be able to say that I've lived a life much different than that of Ketchikan, Alaska- because not many people do that, and I want to be one of them. And now that the moment's fast approaching, I feel that this is all unreal. I feel like I'll wake up soon and find that I'm an eighth grader who doesn't know what to do with her life or where to go. But in a few months I'll get on a plane for New York City, and then I'll meet the future.