#Shiplife Series: Getting a US C1/D Visa in Malaysia – Part 1

Hello guys, happy 2017!

It’s almost February and I’ve been super busy – I thought I was going to die. No kidding.

Thought I’ll do a little summary of the whole US Visa application process and my experience so that those of you who are keen on applying can get some idea. Do take note that it might differ from one person to another and this post is mainly based on my own experience.

So to backtrack a little, I was offered a position on a cruise ship and one of the requirements is to have a valid US C1/D visa. The application is entirely on my own expense and the whole process to be conducted by myself. As the C1/D is a crew transit visa, I will first need to prove that I am indeed a crew member of a ship. I was provided with a letter of employment from my company that affirmed my role and the need for me to have a US visa.

First step was to complete the online visa application by filling up the Form DS-160. It’s basically all your personal details and a few questions regarding your purpose of visit. Do make sure to check out all the different visa types on the website before selecting your choice – the usual tourist visa is B1/B2 but there’s also different ones for work, study, etc. Be really sure on the visa type you’re applying for as I believe you are not allowed to change once it has been confirmed for processing.

You’re also required to upload a photo – be sure to check the requirements! I was pretty worried that mine would be rejected so I went and paid for a studio shot, MYR 16 with a digital copy. Expensive I know but it’s the city and at least I get a peace of mind, haha. Once that’s done, submit the application and pay the visa application fees via bank counter (Ambank), bank transfer or via Jompay. I did mine via electronic transfer and kept the proof of payment for reference. Total damage was USD 160 ~ MYR 672 at the point of my application. Do take note that your application comes with a code that you’re supposed to reference during payment.

Once that’s done and your payment has been received, you can schedule your appointment for the visa interview. My payment was received on 2 November 2016 and the earliest available date was around 1 month later so please allow ample time when planning for your travels!

I’ll be sharing my experience on the interview in the next post!

 

#Shiplife Series – Prologue: Documentations.

In my previous post I mentioned that I had yet to undergo my medical check. Finally it was done and I have all the required documents ready! To sum things up what I needed to submit was:

  1. An ENG1 medical certificate (for seafarers)
  2. A US C1/D crew visa
  3. A certificate of good conduct issued by the Malaysian government

After about a month I finally managed to complete everything, would have been sooner if I could manage to get myself an earlier interview slot at the U.S. embassy but nope.

Pretty psyched now and can’t wait to receive a ship assignment! Will definitely split the whole application process into different blog and vlog entries so watch this space! Your girl is going to the sea!

#Shiplife Series – Prologue

This is it. The big one. I’m just bursting trying to hold the news in and it won’t be known to everyone, well for at least a few  weeks. I’m pretty sure the people I know don’t read my blog, especially when I’m not sharing the link on social media.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, I mentioned that I was getting a certificate of good conduct from the Malaysian government and that I will be sharing the purpose of why I was getting it for in the near future when everything is confirmed.

Well, guess what? I’m heading to the seas y’all!

I have just gotten the certificate of good conduct and my U.S. visa approved! Yet to schedule an appointment for my medical checkup but will do it soon! Hopefully all goes well and there is nothing wrong with my health, else I wouldn’t be able to head to the ships.

I’m trying not to get too overexcited simply because I haven’t had 100% confirmation but things are looking pretty good so far to me (with the visa application being the most challenging, I think). Fingers crossed, I shall be able to share better news in a week or two. Til then, happy December!

Anxiety…or being cautious?

I don’t know if it is just me or everyone in general but I tend to get little thoughts in my head whenever I am doing something. It doesn’t happen all the time but there are certain actions that seem to trigger alarm bells in my mind.

 

When I’m driving, my mind goes:

“Wow, that’s a pretty sharp turn there”.

“You should really slow down.”

“One day you’re gonna get hit by a car”.

 

When I’m going down the stairs:

“What happens if you slip and took a tumble?”

 

When I eat too much:

“You’re gonna get diabetes. And high blood pressure. Maybe cancer.”

 

When I get to the station a little later than usual:

“Some dodgy looking guy is definitely standing there waiting to get you.”

 

Coming out from the toilet at home:

“One day you’re going to open the door and see a zombie coming up the stairs” (over-imagination much?)

 

So I don’t know, I guess it’s pretty normal to have these thoughts right?

 

Living a Solo Life – Being Sick

I had this conversation with a friend earlier over lunch.

I told her, “I’m actually at a pretty happy place right now.” I enjoy my freedom. I enjoy the peace. I am pretty happy with the solitude.

It’s quite nice being independent and single, living in the city. Being able to eat whatever and whenever I want. Having no curfew, no expectations on what time to call home.

Went home and took a nap, woke up at 7-ish in the evening and felt a nagging pull on my lower abdomen. The twinge is almost too familiar. It’s gas, wind, flatulence and I’ve had too much of it, as usual. Probably due to bad nutrition, I’ve had a pretty rumbly stomach for the past week now.

The instant I felt the cramping pain I recalled how bad the full fledged attack was on me. I was in my teens and had to call my dad on my cell from the next room to come get me up from the bed because I was too much in pain. The thought of that happening to me here got my heart pounding. One because I am all by myself. Two because I know that nobody really cares enough to come over. Three because I’m really bad at depending on someone. It’s either the upbringing or the pride but I don’t like to trouble anyone if I can help it. Which is why I’ll probably be found as a dried up corpse by the time someone gets to me.

So in fear of having to crawl down approximately 20 steps and driving myself to the hospital, I quickly opened my box of medicine, all taken from my past visits to the doctors. Some of the labels read Pain, Stomach Pain, Gas, Nausea etc. No idea which is for this kind of pain so I Googled the names of the medicine (what will we ever do without Google) and swallowed a pill. Literally.

I feel better now after burping out gas (and farting some) so let’s just pray it goes away soon and I’ll have no trouble giving myself a full body stretch before bed, lol.

Do I still love my life? Yes.

Do I still enjoy solitude? Yes.

Do I want to be alone? Maybe, with someone I can depend on who is within a 3km radius that I can call for help.

 

Thoughts on being single

Are we all afraid to be alone?

Lately there has been many friends on Facebook who have gotten married, which I am happy for. It is definitely not an easy journey, from finding someone you like to be with 24/7 and deciding to accept them for who they are. The lifelong commitment stuff. Right now my body and mind seems to shudder at the very thought of marriage. I’ve been through a number of boyfriends and maybe it’s just me but forever just seems a little too long.

“You don’t know love”, they might say. “You just haven’t found the right person”, others might add. Both might be true but I’ll just say that I’m pretty much happy where I am right now. Single, alone and…free.

There have also been friends who have fallen out of relationships. Friends breaking up with their partners. Married couples getting divorced. This scares me as well. The fragility of a relationship and how thin the line that separates being together and being not, is.

I just really want to make a point that if you’re in a loving relationship, great. If you’re not, it’s not the end world either. Don’t worry about not being able to find someone, you will. There is just no expiration date to meeting people and falling in love so why get so worked up about being alone when you have so much you can do? Read the books you always wanted. Watch all the movies you want. Start on the hobbies you’ve always said you wish you tried.

There is really no harm in being alone. Instead of constantly looking for someone to love you, go love yourself first. Enjoy your moments of solitude. Live. Don’t just exist.

Waiting & Wanting

For those of you who follow me on social media (Instagram: reenkhaw), you might have heard that I was in the process of getting my letter of good conduct from the consular. Just checked the status today and it’s ready for collection! How eerily efficient is that? So yes, one document down.

I haven’t shared it publicly the reason why I needed it for because I didn’t want to count my chickens before they are hatched if you know what I mean. I’ve told my family and close friends about it which like 90% reacted in surprised horror.

The current pending issue I need to complete is to get my U.S. visa and medical done. I’ve paid for the visa earlier today and to my utmost terror the next available interview appointment slot is on 29 November 2016.

Another full month of waiting.

God & Religion

Do you believe in God?

I have a pretty laid-back opinion when it comes to religion. People often ask what religion I belong to and at most times, I’ll say that I pray to what my parents pray to.
Of which is the truth.
My parents are Taoist-Buddhist and sometimes offer prayers to the Hindu Gods as well. Growing up, religion for me is a “to-do” because the adults asked us to. As I grow older and especially after moving away from home, religion doesn’t seem to matter to me as long as I always do good.

I wouldn’t say that I don’t believe in God, I do. There is definitely a higher power bigger than all of us and at times I find myself believing the phrase, “The rest is up to God.” Well God could also mean the Universe and the energies that come with it but yeah, you get the idea.

So yes, I do believe in God but I don’t believe in certain ideologies of religion. Right now I always mark the Buddhist column when it comes to filling forms – out of convenience’s sake. Should I start marking some other boxes now?

28

So I just celebrated my 28th birthday.

I’ve lived for 28 years.

But what is living actually? What kind of life?

My family isn’t rich and I was brought up in typical Malaysian fashion, education first and other things second. I studied in a mainstream school and later on went to private university, mainly because my grades weren’t “good enough” for the public tertiary system. I can say for sure that when I was growing up, I wasn’t a very driven individual. I have no goals and no dreams of becoming someone. Nothing inspires me and at most, I was a “kinda” person. Most of the time, I got pretty okay grades because fortunately enough, I am pretty smart (or so I think). I sailed through my whole schooling life pretty much that way. I started taking school a little more seriously in Form 6. I started being really into school when I entered uni.

I think that being in a working class family, my parents’ didn’t have time or energy to focus on our education and inspire us to dream big. My siblings and I were more or less raised by our grandmothers and left to our own devices after school. So that could be a reason for my disinterest and lack of drive.

It just sort of feels weird to me right now that at that point of time, the future never really seem to bother me. I did remember that I wanted to enroll in Limkokwing University (prestigious design uni in Malaysia) when I finished my Form 5 but my mum said “No money, just go to Form 6”. I didn’t even try to find out what other options I have.

So all that aside, I wanted to study in the city. I did receive some protests from family but a real big part of me really wanted to go out and “see the world”. You know, the whole grow up thing and you’ll never get a chance to do it once you don’t do it sort of idea. My dad supported me financially while I took an education loan from the government and finished my degree. Fast forward to now, I’ve been bouncing back and forth getting job experiences and pretty much liking what I do.

Now is that living?

I’ve done the typical Asian “life path” plan thingie. Study, graduate from university, get a good job. Next in line would be to get into a relationship, buy a house and get married. I wouldn’t be able to afford a house in my current situation. “But you can always find someone and share the house between the two of you”. I’ve been in a few relationships and let’s just say, I’m pretty contented with being single right now. Relationships seem to get more complicated as you grow and at times, being without one means having less drama to deal with. I’ll just have a glass of wine and go to sleep with my “imaginary boyfriend” pillow, haha. So nope. Not sure if parents will be disappointed but I think they understand.

Living – in my context is living your life in the path of your goals and dreams. You may not have achieved your dreams but you are driving yourself towards it. We can all have numerous dreams and waking up everyday knowing you are doing something to make it happen is living.

I have dreams now, plenty in fact.  I want to travel to places. Try different food. See different views and faces. Move out of the country. Spend more time with family. Have a house with a garden. See the northern lights. Eat crabs in Alaska. Dabble in new hobbies. Learn diving. Learn new languages. So many things that many people have done but so many have not.

I want to live.

365 Days of Gratitude: Day 2 – The Immigration Officers

365 Days of Gratitude: Day 2. I had 3 weeks left until my holiday & with the passport shortage scare in the country meant that I have to wake up early. Started queuing at 7am yesterday and made two friends with the guys in the line front and back of me. The officers started working very quickly once the office opened at 8.30 a.m and I managed to get my passport renewed by 12.15 noon. Mind you, I was number 115. Thank you for trying hard to take as little as our time possible, for having a special queue for the elderly, for being courteous and patient. While waiting, I managed to re-read some chapters of one amazing book, meet new people and had a decent breakfast with coffee! #throwback #365daysofgratitude #blessed #countyourblessings #richardcarlson #dontsweatthesmallstuff #immigrationmalaysia

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