Traveling internationally for the U.S. humanities grad: planning

Over the past seven years of graduate school, I’ve earned the funding to travel overseas on four occasions–once for my MA and three times for my dissertation. Research trip #1 was almost diverted by a freak snowstorm that hit London and threw everyone into such a tizzy that Heathrow closed its runway and the London Times printed a front page story about people helping each other cross the treacherous streets in the “spirit of the blitz.”  It was like…six inches of snow, guys. The day I flew out for research trip #2, VISA cancelled both my debit and credit card in a company wide fraud protection scheme, leaving with me a bare minimum of cash.  My roommate at the time had to mail me my replacement cards, which was a total fiasco I had forcefully forgotten until just now.  That’s worth a post on it’s own. Anyway, research trip #3 went off alright, aside from the horrid customs officer, but

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British customs hates me and probably a lot of other people

Now that I have successfully navigated the gut-punch that is international travel, and I find myself safely tucked away in Oregon for a few weeks before school starts, I thought I would get my lingering animosities out of my system.  Namely, an enormous middle finger goes to British customs. British customs can suck it. Here’s the thing.  This was my fourth time through customs at Heathrow.  The first time I was so ill-prepared it was laughable.  They dinged me as a terrorist because I didn’t have a full address for the dorm I was visiting, and they frisked me and went through my stuff three days later when I left the country. Sure, my fault. But I learned my lesson, and now I travel with a document folder that contains just about anything they could possibly ask for.  Proof of address in the states, full itineraries for travel, all locations I’m housing at, letters of introduction from my university, proof

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