Sacred faeces! I am departing for St Petersburg tomorrow morning. I'll be leaving my house at 6.30am tomorrow to catch the 9.30am flight from Heathrow direct to Pulkovo Airport. I've done 90% of my packing this evening, having had about 5 hours sleep last night after a banging gig in Ickenham. I am so grateful that I'm getting a lift to Heathrow and that Liden & Denz are providing a free transfer from Pulkovo because I'm really nervous about flying on my own for the first time.
In the end my visa invitation arrived on Wednesday, I submitted it for next-day application on Thursday and had my passport back with me on Friday. That day I booked my flights (Club class being cheaper than economy on the way out, so I'm flying in style tomorrow) and got to packing. I fully intend to publish my 'ultimate packing list' once I feel it lacks the need for further editing, it's a constant work in progress. The idea is that there will be a document you can print, and just delete as appropriate the sections and stuff you don't need until you have a list of everything you might ever need to pack, for any kind of trip.
This has been a ridiculously stressful couple of days, and that's because it takes a month from a company applying for an invitation to sending it out to you, and then one should allow 12-15 working days for standard (non-urgent) visa application. So basically, allow 8 weeks bare minimum to avoid stress. Not 6 weeks from the moment of being accepted on to a course. Consider yourselves warning future year-abroad students ;) Why did I have to leave on the 24th? Because my course dictates I spend two 13-week placements in Russia, and this means I'll be back on May 26th in time for D + A and my boyfriend Rob's birthdays (so many Gemini people!).
Speak to you on the other side of Europe!