Friday morning, my mom listened to a voicemail message on our home phone from a shipping company called DHL Express.
“We have a foreign package for Caitlin White,” the person on the message said, “It will be delivered between 10 am and 6 pm today. If there is a chance you will not be home at the time of delivery, please leave a note on the door to indicate that it is alright to leave the package.”
A foreign package! What could it be? A Christmas present from one of my friends already studying abroad? That Hogwarts letter I’ve been waiting on for almost a decade now?
The most likely answer was just as exciting as a letter from Hogwarts. This package was probably something from Queen’s University of Belfast, where I’ll be studying abroad through the Irish-American Scholars program from late January until early June. Studying English and Drama in Belfast, Northern Ireland is like a fairytale dream come true for me, and each reminder of my imminent adventure fills me with joy and anticipation.
But what is Queen’s sending me? I did order a kitchen and bedding pack to be ready at my arrival. “Would they have sent it ahead of time?” I wondered aloud to my mom. I thought back to all of the items conveniently included in the kitchen/bedding pack:
- Bedding pack: quilt, quiltcover, sheet, pillow and pillowcase
- Kitchen pack: plate, dessert plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, cooking pot and pan
I was grateful that these useful items would be made available to me, but surely Queen’s would not ship such a large package in advance. The whole point of providing these packs was to save room in the luggage of international students like me. The contents of my “foreign package” remained a mystery.
At around 3 pm, the package finally arrived in the hands of a cheerful delivery man, with not a tawny owl to be found.
“Since you’re here, I’ll go ahead and have you sign for it,” he said, handing over a thin, ocher yellow plastic envelope, “Merry Christmas!”
Inside the package was a letter, on Queen’s University letterhead, that indeed grants me access to a magical world.
“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN” it read, “This is to confirm that the below named has been made an unconditional offer for admission to a degree level programme at Queen’s University Belfast.” Since I will be studying in the UK for 6 months or less, I am not required to apply for a visa before I leave. I need only present this letter to the customs official when I arrive in London en route to Belfast to prove my legitimacy as a student tourist.
The contents of the mysterious package revealed, my fairytale adventures abroad are feeling more real by the day!