“La burocracia es infinita y perversa.”

La burocracia es infinita y perversa.” The director of my program in Argentina said that to me in an e-mail last week. Wow. I could not agree more.

All of this paperwork and craziness to study abroad at a graduate level is absolutely exhausting. I feel like I can’t do anything right.

In August I got a duplicate copy of my birth certificate ($23) and had someone at Marquette make my transcript and diploma more official by drafting a letter and having it notarized ($10 for transcripts).

In October I had my transcript and diploma and birth certificate apostilled by the State of Wisconsin ($30 + $20 shipping = $50) . If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. I didn’t either until I had to have it done. I was ahead of the game.

In November I got my fingerprints done at the local police station ($25) and sent in the documentation to have the FBI run a background check on me ($18). I knew I would need this to apply for my visa in Argentina ($123.87). I also bought my plane ticket and reserved a hotel room in Buenos Aires for one week while I get the police there to run a background check on me. Adiós, $1,928.80.

At the end of November, I found out that my university in Salta cannot issue an acceptance letter until:

  • I have my transcript and diploma professional translated and notarized. ($220)
  • I have the translated copy of my transcript and diploma be apostilled by the state ($20 + $20 via UPS = $40)
  • I have the US State Department apostille the translated copy of my diploma and transcript, the original diploma and transcript, and my birth certificate ($40 + $20 shipping = $60). Now, it takes one month usually if I send it by mail, so I am having a friend who lives in DC do this for me (thanks @shannonvwalsh). So add on some more money as a thank-you gift to her AND her friend Steph who works at the U.S. Department of State and is actually dropping off the documents for me.
  • I have the Argentine Consulate in Chicago approve the documents (cost unknown, they don’t have a website that works and won’t return my calls).

In order to land in the country, I have to pay the reciprocity fee, too ($160).

Rotary required that I have the following things submitted before they can issue me my first scholarship payment:

  • Signed form from my doctor stating that I am set to move abroad for a year (free annual physical because of my health insurance)
  • Proof of health insurance that meets Rotary requirements ($566)

Let’s add this up. We’re at $3,224.67 and I haven’t even LANDED on the ground in Argentina.

12/5/12: UPDATE: I also need my birth certificate translated and notarized, so add $50 for translation + $10 for state apostille + $8 national apostille = $68 extra. Making the NEW grand total of money I’ve spent be $3,292.67.

So, as a caution to future Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars: be prepared to spend A LOT OF MONEY preparing for your year abroad. This is so much more work than I ever thought it could be and the whole Argentinian consulate process is still outstanding. Le sigh. All I want for Christmas this year is to have my documents back in my hands, completely official, and a letter from my university. And a $13,000 check from Rotary would be nice, too.

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