Was late the morning when I headed to Guangzhou US Embassy.
Every single freaking time, it was like this. Whenever I tried to do something new, emergency happened.
The bus I took to Guangzhou met a severe traffic jam. It was jam-packed for 6 or 8 kilometers at the start of highway, which completely stalled my schedule.
I was really nervous at the time. It was raining outside, and cars were driving slow. I called the agent from my travel agency and explained the situation to him. He said, if I couldn’t make it till 1:30 pm, it’s over and I need to retake another interview possibly.
On the bus I was hoping that the bus driver could drive faster, faster and faster. Staring at my watch and counting for the time, took several phone calls from the agent notifying that I was late.
I ran through all the pathways so that I could make it up in time–through the sidewalk, the hallways in metro stations and anything that was blocking me. The crowds were flashing away from me as I spearheaded myself into the destination.
I arrived at the Embassy around 1:10 pm. Sifting through the crowd scattered around the exit of metro station and tried to find my agent. He told me he was in a camouflage T-shirt and black pants, but I found the wrong person first. And the old man, the wrong guy, asked me if I was there for the interview. I said yes, I was. Then he pointed me the direction of my agent and also kindly warned me that my shoelaces were loose.
There was only 5 minutes for me to memorize all the tips and notes my agent told me. He listed all the issues and gave me an overview of the whole process. I thought I remembered all of it, maybe, I tried. Some things I remembered some were lost in the way.
And just after a brief 5 minutes, I left my baggage to a baggage watcher (these people really know how to make money, there were a number of these people in front of the embassy) and left quickly for the Embassy.
It was actually a little bit strange first, at the entrance of the embassy. There were many people lining up there, but they weren’t really queuing or anything. They were just standing there, in a line, I really had no idea what they were doing as I misunderstood them as a line. I was really anxious and afraid that I may miss the interview. I went head-on to the Chinese security officers and asked them whether it was ok to just enter the embassy. They gave me a pass, and I slid myself in.
After the entrance, yet there was another line. (Another line!?) And this line did not seem legit to cut in or anything. As, well, the line outside was not really a line. I think they may be some people that were waiting for the people going in for interviews. I went after the line and waited anxiously for head of the line to move forward. Nope, did not seem optimistic for my interview. As the time was already 1:25pm. Seriously next time, stay in the interview city before the interview day. And arrive outside at least 30 minutes before.
So, this line was moving in a moderate speed. When it was nearly me, I heard the US officer said something about a 1:00 pm interviewee. I thought that was something about me so I asked them about whether I could just cut in and pass through. And they replied politely and told me to stay put, and wait in the line. I was… a bit relieved, when I heard him say that. Anyhow, the officers seem like ABC, American Born Chinese. And apparently they have a Cantonese heritage, they all speak Cantonese and they do look very Cantonese to me. Somehow I found a bit of familiarity, I guess.
Well also the girl officer at the entrance was pretty cute.
So after this, there was this security checkpoint. They asked you literally to strip anything electronic related on your body, and you have to leave them outside of the embassy. I had been informed far earlier than this so I already left those things for the baggage watcher. And I saw multiple people leave the line and head outside to put down their prohibited items. Need to mention, you can’t even bring a cable in there. Also no electronic watches.
And yeah, that’s it. I put my baseball jacket and the document bag on the X-ray machine and finished the security checking.
There were, like, three stops, for unknown reasons, after the security check. And I went through all of them and finally got inside the embassy, the building itself, where you give your passport for a first check and your ten finger fingerprints, also the final boss fight–the interview.
As I had researched/prepared for the interview, I knew that a visa officer has complete authority to determine your legitimacy entering the country.
A girl approached me in the line. Literally a girl. She was 14, and yeah, one of the studying abroad and immigrating stream of China. She asked me whether I like New York Yankee or not with a very Chinese accent. Well, I don’t typically have a tendency for wearing a jacket and it means I like them. It’s just a hypebeast behavior I guess, I just wear them because they look cool.
I asked her whether she was first time for interview. She said she already went to the States several times before for traveling. And I was like, well this is my first time for a travel visa……
In the line of interview. I checked each interview officer behind the windows. And I was hoping, hoping inside my heart that I could be interviewed by a foreigner. Well, you know, the crew was pretty diverse. They put Asian, white, some middle easterner, for the interview section, as I recall.
I checked each window as I was planning how I could break each one of them.
“Well, I can definitely break this guy.”
“This guy too.”
“This guy definitely, he’s my brother.”
“No, not this grandma, I definitely can’t take this grandma. Please don’t give me this grandma….”
“Hhmmm…. Asian? Does he… speak Chinese I guess…”
After all these years, American officers in the embassy already master the Mandarin language, and it seems like they are trained to speak it.
The line was basically all directed by the officer at the entry, whenever an interview officer finished his/her interviewee, the entry officer would call for the next interviewee to the pointed window. However, it did not seem like very necessary to follow the orders from the entry officer. As the interview officers were just receiving interviewees no matter the directions. I did not get the time to ask the entry officer, and I abided the order.
It was… well number 25. I hoped that I could just go in the 24 window, as I thought I would definitely perform good at that window. The 24 window was a normal worker white guy, and a bit weighted. However, the girl who approached me got to have that person.
Number 25 window was an Asian “father”. I got actually nervous when I saw what was coming to me, that I couldn’t speak English with him.
However, I was totally wrong. The Asian officer was super nice to me, he asked me first what was my purpose to the States with Mandarin, I stated clearly for travel reason. And he asked me what do I do right now. I said I work for my father, and it is a family business, well… kind of. Then he asked me whether I could speak English, I said “Sure, I was thinking whichever language would you prefer?” And then he asked me where would I actually go in the States. Well, I am a laid-back guy, so I just told him I did not know. Probably just tour around Hollywood and walk on the streets, which I do it everywhere I travel to. And he asked me where did I learn my English.
Well, it was a long story, so I just cut it in a very short explanation that I took some courses of IELTS and the original plan was to study abroad and my family ran into some issues and……
And yeah… I passed. The officer just told me, “You are good to go.”, and handed me back all my documents, which I only submitted 3 of them… Old and new passports and my Chinese city belonging document. I was stunned a bit at first, I asked him: “Well, is it ok?”
“Yeah, sure. You’re good to go.”
And yeah, man. I took all my documents back and got the yellow pamphlet. “Thank you, sir.” As I walked out to the exit.
It was super fast. The whole interview process took me like 3-6 minutes I guess. I was way faster than anyone before me.
It probably had to do with my English, as it is just… already not a Chinese English anymore. It is completely, almost, native English now.
I don’t know, I felt actually lost after finishing the interview. I went out of the Embassy and could not find the exit. The American security officer looked at me with a weird look as I was some sort of spy that was trying to find secrets around the building……
Well I span myself around a few turns and left for the outer exit.
Arrived again at the baggage watcher spot, I received all my baggage and was preparing to leave. The agent texted me to let him know whether I succeeded. I told him I got the yellow pamphlet, does that mean I passed? And he said yes, everything from now on can just leave it to them to handle. Well, just the passport receiving procedure.
It was raining, the whole day. Not heavy rain, but small rain nonetheless. I calmed myself a little bit, as I had not eaten anything even it was already past launch time.
Well, I took a heavy cold that night, where I stayed at my girlfriend’s studio. It was like, really cold. I almost believed I got STD……