Program to receive Spanish program visas

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by John Potratz, The Badger Herald

Monday, November 14, 2005

All University of Wisconsin students traveling to Spain next spring will soon
be receiving their visas.

Concluding weeks of tenuous uncertainty, Division of International Studies
officials reached an agreement Friday with the Spanish consulate in Chicago
to ensure all students will be able to fulfill their semester abroad in Spain
this spring.

DIS has scheduled a group appointment to receive visas for all those in need.

“At this time everyone should be able to have their visas processed
in time to make it for the start of the program,” a relieved DIS Student
Services Coordinator Julie Lindsey said. “Today we were able to get an
appointment for Nov. 22.”

Lindsey added program advisors did have an appointment set for Jan. 14, which
was invariably too late. However, the new appointment will provide ample time
for students to pursue their semesters in Spain as planned.

Problems arose nearly three weeks ago after students calling to schedule their
visa appointments with the Chicago consulate — which serves Midwestern
states — were told they could not be fit in until late January or early
February, after their semester-in-Spain programs were to start.

Due to a combination of more stringent visa policies enacted as a result of
the 2004 Madrid train bombings and a lack of employees, the consulate had filled
all of their allotted student visa appointments for the semester.

In efforts to ensure all students signed up for the various international
programs to Spain would not be left out of the trip, DIS officials began reaching
out to all of their available resources, including the American Embassy in
Spain, to agree upon a feasible alternative.

During that time, students such as UW junior Erin Vanden Brook were left unsure
of how their spring semesters were to pan out and began preparing for the worst.

“I was sort of freaking out because right now its kind of crunch time
with advisors,” Vanden Brook said.

In fear of not being able to receive her visa, Vanden Brook said she began
inquiring about alternate abroad programs and considered scheduling classes
for spring.

“A huge reason of going to Spain was to fulfill credits for my Spanish
major,” she said, adding she had a feeling DIS would be able to resolve
the situation.

Now that the situation has been resolved, Vanden Brook said she feels relieved.

“I guess all my plans don’t feel worthless,” she said. “I
didn’t waste two months of my planning, so that’s good.”

Last Thursday, 16 business students seeking to go abroad to Spain were told
the department had found a group appointment for them at the Chicago consulate,
yet the future of the remaining students signed on for other programs was still

Now that all students will be able to go abroad, as long as they file their
necessary forms with their program advisors, everyone involved at DIS is “absolutely
thrilled,” Lindsey said.

“I think we’re all very relieved,” she said. “I think
everyone was hopeful that there would be appointment times like group appointments
that would open up.”