I took his visa pictures (because we're too cheap to get them done professionally). I proofread his essays (over and over and over again). I wrote on his application so that it would be legible (his hand writing is so bad that he really should consider becoming a doctor). He did everything else: Wrote the essays, revised the essays, told me what to write on the application, got letters of recommendation and transcripts, got an HIV test, etc., etc., etc.
There are actually a lot of hoops to jump through in order to apply for grad school, especially if you're going foreign. But we're finally ready to send it off through the trusty USPS (Andrew's going to mail it tomorrow morning).
Now all we have to do is anxiously await our letter, which will hopefully be one of acceptance. We really hope to get in even though we have no idea how we're going to pay for this whole adventure. We applied for three scholarships and will probably have to take out a Stafford Loan--anyone who has any experience with such things (loans) is welcome to share because we have no clue what we're doing!
We're just due for an adventure, I think. We haven't used our passports in quite a while and they keep calling out to me. Since we'll have to get Rachel a passport we tried taking some passport pictures of her after we took Andrew's visa pictures. Have you ever tried to get a six month old baby to sit still and look directly into the camera without shoving her hands in her mouth? It's pretty tricky, let me tell you, but I think that a few of them turned out alright.
Looking at our passports and thinking about visas reminded me of some experiences we had getting ID and visa pictures abroad.
When I lived in Russia we had to renew our visas at the embassy in Latvia. Since we (all the girls traveling with me) had used our remaining passport pictures for the student IDs issued at the university sponsoring us we had to get new pictures taken for our visa applications. We went in small groups to a studio and took turns having our pictures taken with a rather forward photographer. He only promised to take mine and Emily's pictures if we gave him Esther's phone number. I don't actually remember if we gave him the real number or if we thought to give him a fake number (did he ever call you, Es?).
Our photographer kept prompting us to "look normal," which we kept insisting we did. Finally he asked us to look a little more sad. Apparently you aren't supposed to look happy that your visa is getting renewed or something.
Anyway, when we got our pictures back they looked pretty dreadful--airbrushed and saturated and gross. The black and white one on the left is my visa picture from Russia.
(L to R: Nancy's Russia visa, Andrew's Jordan ID, Andrew's Egypt visa, Nancy's passport, Nancy's Jordan ID, Rachel's passport)
The ones in the middle were the pictures we had taken for our student ID cards at the University of Jordan. The photographers treated us like artwork and kept asking us to tilt our heads up, down, left, right; step forward, step back, smile a little more, a little less, a little more, perfect... I think they took a little more time composing my shot. And you will notice that, while Andrew's picture looks like a mere snapshot, mine is softened and all my blemishes have disappeared. If I'm not mistaken my cheeks are even a little rosier than usual. They gave me twice as many wallet-size photos as Andrew, as well as a bigger one in a cute little cardboard frame--for the same price that Andrew got four pictures. I'm not sure that either of my foreign pictures would be accepted in the United States as a passport photo.
I am hoping, however, that they accept Rachel's passport photo. It's always a gamble, taking the picture by yourself, and I'm worried that the dimensions aren't right because her head is so big compared to the rest of her body that it seemed more difficult to achieve the same result than when working with an adult subject. She squirmed more, she looked everywhere but at the camera, she kept trying to eat her hands, and her smile was either too big or non-existent. I think that she turned out looking really cute, though!