Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Heart Nottingham

I know it's been a while since I have posted something so I think it would be best to bring you all up to speed.

I DID receive my working Visa with no difficulties, (amazingly), and the team was able to book my flight to Nottingham on the same day as Jordan.  Everyone affiliated with the team has been lovely to work with through this process so far.  We honestly feel like we're receiving the red carpet treatment here in terms of getting everything settled.

Nottingham is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and has exceeded expectations.  When we were driving to Nottingham from the airport I honestly felt like I was in an English (UK) movie.  It was actually just as I had imagined it.  Driving into the city there was acres upon acres of farm land.  Everything was so clean and beautiful.

When we drove into the city center we saw gorgeous brick buildings, beautiful churches, and my favorite, HUGE soccer stadiums.  There are two major soccer teams here that compete in the Major second league and they each have their own massive stadium.

We also drove past the rink Jordan will be playing in and from the outside it looks incredible.  I've heard through the grapevine that Nottingham has the best Ice Arena in this league so I think we got pretty lucky with that.  I'm really excited for the first game to see what it looks like on the inside and to check out the general atmosphere.

The apartment, (flat), they have set us up in is SICK.  We are only staying here a week or so though because another couple will be moving into this one.  Apparently the lease on ours doesn't start till this weekend so we will be moving into our permanent place Saturday or Sunday.  All I have to say is if it is ANYTHING like the apartment we are in now, we will be super happy.  Our apartment is actually in the same complex so I'm assuming it will be similar.  One of the wives told me that it is an open plan with two bedrooms.  Sounds good to me!  Here are our digs for the week:

That was just the kitchen area and living room, but pretty great right?!  I'm really excited to move into our place for the season but I'm kind of bummed because I know Internet won't be set up yet.  One one the wives on the team offered to let us piggy back on their Internet since they will be living in the complex accross from us but I have a feeling the connection won't be strong enough.  I'm apologizing in advance friends and family if you don't hear from me for a few days once we move!  Here is a picture of our apartment complex:

Speaking of wives, I have met a few of them so far along with their significant others and they have all been wonderful.  The guys on the team that live in the same development have come over and introduced themselves and have been really welcoming.  We actually went over to one of their places the first night we got here and had some drinks and met some other members of the team.  I was trying not to be a booze bag the first night that I met people but it seems like they can throw down with the best of 'em! Needless so say I think it's going to be a fun season ;o) 

The guys have a trip to Belfast this weekend so some of the girls are getting together Saturday night to hit the town.  It should be really fun.  Not sure what to expect yet but I'll let you know all about it.  And yes, I was a nerd and asked one of the wives what the dress code would be haha.

Which leads me to my next topic...SHOPPING.  Nottingham has a couple of shopping areas so me and Jordan decided to go check one of them out the other day.  We went to Victoria Shopping center and it is UNREAL.  They have everything you could ever want/need.  The have high fashion stores all the way down to a Dollar-tree type store.  Not going to lie...we've been hitting up the dollar-tree stores WAY more then any other stores.  With one income for now we are seriously budgeting and I'm ok with that.

They also have Walmart-type store that is walking distance from our place which is also great.  It has food, electronics, good books, home furnishings, and clothing.  They also carry all of the American brands that I am used to. 

We haven't had a chance to go out to dinner yet and see what the food is like but I'm guessing it's pretty good.  We looked at some of the menus when we were walking around the shopping center and it looked to be pretty similar to American food.  Pub food looks the same, Italian food looks the same, and Chinese food looks the same, (although I haven't seen crab rangoons on the menu yet which I am sour about haha).  The only thing that seems to be unique is the amount of Indian cuisine.  There are Indian restaurants at every corner.  To be honest I have never tried Indian food but I have a feeling I may not be a fan of curry, which is heavily used in Indian cooking.  Who knows though, I love spicy food and some of the people we met so far say it's probably right up my alley.

The last thing I'll share for now about Nottingham is that the running paths are awesome!  I know this is probably boring to a lot of you but when you work really hard to loose weight for 'bridal bod' you definitely want to work at keeping it off.  I haven't gotten a gym membership yet and I'm not sure I will because they seem pretty expensive, (unfortunately I don't think the team offers one to the wives), so I have decided that running will be may way of exercising.  There are so many different paths to take and things to look at that I ran four miles easy today. It feels like everything is a big circle too, so I'm not worried about getting lost.  I probably need to figure out if there are 'unsafe' areas to run or walk around by myself but I'm not too worried about it.  Everything is so visible because public transportation is so popular and easy here.  There is usually always more then one person walking on the same road as you or waiting at the bus stop. Here is a picture of one of the roads I ran up to get an idea of the area we're in:

That's all I have for now.  I'll be sure to keep you updated on my big night on the town Saturday and how things turn out with our other apartment.

Cheers! <----- so British of me haha

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Journey Begins-Visa Process

Jordan just got his Visa approved and sent back to our house yesterday; I'm still waiting for mine to process.  The whole Visa application thing was a little more challenging then we expected, so for any of your moving to the UK you may want to pay attention.

First, if you are a spouse and you are piggy backing on your husbands Visa you DO need to fill out your own application. Which is a little tricky in itself the way they word the questions....but I digress.
 Jordan and I made that mistake when we traveled all the way into the city to get our biometrics, (finger prints), done and were promptly denied because I hadn't filled out my own form.  I had asked Jordan to get all of this information BEFORE we went to the visa office and he assured me we were all set....but I should have known better.  He didn't ask his coach or anyone on the team LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD till after we were denied. Thanks HUNNY.

Ok no big deal.  I'll just have to take more time out of work and head into the city in the next couple of days by myself.  Wrong. You have to wait 1-2 weeks before you can schedule your appointment again, thus pushing the application process back. 

Next, applying for your Visa is EXPENSIVE.  You will need to have around $1400 in your bank account to process 2 UK Visas.  Fortunately the team is going to reimburse us for this expense but we still needed to have the money readily available to process.

Next, don't forget to send your passport in with your application.  I'm not sure if Jordan didn't read the fine lines or if it was something we were just supposed to know, but Jordan didn't send his passport in with his application and it got sent back a week later.  This process seems a little weird to me because your passport is such a critical document and the UK seems very nonchalant about the possibility of it getting lost in the mail....but what do I know.

Finally, the whole process takes around 3-4 weeks....I think.  It's kind of hard to tell because we messed up a couple of times but I'm guestimating it takes around 3 if you do everything correctly.  Jordan got a confirmation email last week..or the week before...(who can really keep track of all these things)...letting him know that his application was received and it would take 9 days to process and get back to us.

Really, the timing doesn't seem to bad considering some of the horror stories I've heard where it has taken months on end to get approved.  But still,  the whole process makes me a little nervous mostly due to my lack of  luck with these type of things.  I can just picture it now...Jordan over in England and I'm stuck back in the states because I filled out my application wrong, was denied, and have to go through the whole process again.  No bueno.

Yes I am getting a little head of myself, but i've learned in the hockey world that it is best to prepare for the worst then to expect the best.  That way when things do go wrong  you don't have a complete  mental break down.

Hopefully I will be getting a confirmation email soon saying they have received my passport...and that its not lost in the mail....and not being sold on the black market...oh god here we go haha.  In all honesty I am preparing for the worst but crossing my fingers for the best.  Here's to hoping it goes as smooth as possible!

Anyway, training camp begins August 22- or 23 so we should be getting flight information pretty soon.  I've come to terms with myself that we probably won't be flying over to England together due to the whole Visa application process, but I'm ok with that.  I have a feeling this would bother most people who are moving accross the country with their spouse but if that's the biggest issue we have in terms of Visas and flights I will be happy.  Plus it's probably better for him to get over there and really focus on training camp rather then worrying about getting the apartment all set up and exploring the town with me.  But we shall see.

I'll let you know how it turns to England we he goes!... (for now ;o)