Before you start: I recommend reading this with the following soundtrack
It started in February 2022 and ended in September 2022. Almost 7 months. Around 60% of the whole year. It was a long process and it felt like 2 whole years.
It all started with a question: do you want to take a shot? It could be a big change for my whole family, an adventure. It could change 2 of the 3 Naval’s big decisions: where you live and what you do. I discussed it with my family and we were ready. Although we never felt that it could happen until 7 months later.
The first phase was waiting for the process to start and getting the initial ok. It was not really hard but it took 3 whole weeks. Where 90% of the time was waiting. Still, we saw everything very far away.
The second phase started at the very end of March. I was waiting for my car at the car wash early in the morning and checked my email. They wanted to do an interview. I almost jumped from where I was sitting. This was the next step. I had my fair share of rejections and bad experiences with interviews. I hoped that all those stepping stones would help me in this one.
I studied a lot. I had help from my mentor and my wife. I tried to think where the interviewer would take me. I tried to find any blindspots or topics it could get tricky. I spent a whole Saturday reading and practicing. You never feel ready, but I was as ready as I could be for Tuesday.
The interview experience was unexpected. We started a little bit late, which only made me more nervous. Once we started, the questions were different from what I had prepared. I overprepared. I took 20 mins when it was scheduled for 45 mins. I got the result fast. A YES!
It took 2 weeks of waiting to make it official. I was out of the office one of those weeks, recovering from minor surgery and refreshing my mobile email client every 15 mins. The email arrived 2 days later. It was still a long way to go, I needed a visa.
The third phase was from mid-April to early May. It involved a ton of paperwork, emails with lawyers, and navigating through complex government websites. I had a lot of doubts all the time if we were completing everything correctly. We tried to double-check every document and process, but we never felt quite sure. The biggest takeaway from this phase was the visa appointment in August.
The fourth phase was 4 months of 95% waiting, 3% preparing, and 2% going to the appointment. Although the percentage of the appointment looks low it was the most intense part. I checked a website every 2 days for an earlier appointment, but never got lucky.
One week before the appointment I had all the papers at hand and preparation started. This was more intense than the last interview. I had a guide of possible questions, I knew by hearth my answers and even the questions. I was really nervous about this interview, none of the people I knew had been rejected. I did not want to be rejected for something I said. I knew I could not control the result, but at least I could go prepared.
The day before the interview we went to our favorite coffee shop. We ate our favorite things on the menu and sat nervously for a long time. After that, we went to a shopping mall just to walk. We wanted time to go by. We both got sick the night before the appointment. We were really nervous.
On the day of the appointment, we were nervous but we knew the logistics well. I received a lot of help from a friend who had gone through the same process a couple of months before. I knew even where I had to park. The appointment was very early and we arrived 45 mins earlier. The process inside was smooth and the interview was shorter than I expected. Approved! We were moving in 4 weeks!
The fifth and last phase was a whirlwind of preparations and getting things out of the apartment. We ran a lot. Ran a lot of errands and said goodbye to a lot of people. I get a little bit stressed even just remembering that time. We slept a few hours and did a lot of things. We were tired but managed to solve everything. We said goodbye to our first apartment, ate my favorite dish from my hometown, and jumped into a plane.
It was after the whirlwind that I finally realized something. We were driving in Houston, down the car-packed 9-lane 45 highway at 65 miles per hour when I thought: oh man, I live here now.