Let's just say that strange things can and do happen, and here are some lessons learned:
- If you need any documents for a Romanian embassy, know that you will need them in original. Scanned .pdfs, no matter whether they're stamped or not, are not accepted. The reason given is that even if they accept it, it might not be accepted at the Romanian border and you could risk being sent back home. Depending on where you live, therefore, allow time for the mail to reach you from Romania (e.g. in the case of an original letter of invitation).
- If you buy a plane ticket in advance, do make sure to keep checking the ticket's status through the website! I was surprised to discover that one of my connecting flights had been cancelled - the only reason being 'Flight not operating' - and that I had been re-booked onto another flight two days later, and all without being contacted first (that would have been one nasty surprise in Dubai!). I'd never have expected that from Emirates (and never had that before when flying with them), but there's a first time for everything. Luckily after a few phonecalls I was re-booked onto a different flight, with a connecting time measured in hours instead of days.
- If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. From everything seeming hopelessly grim (letter never going to arrive in time, local Romanian embassy not cooperating, flight cancelled without warning), things turned around completely for me with a bit of persistence and continued engagement with amazingly helpful people.
I'm also excited to say that I've taken some big steps towards the launch of my Romanian research project - there are some awesome components to it which I think will really get people talking and involved, so be sure to keep checking back! By January 2014 at the latest, everything will be revealed.
Wish me luck as I apply for my visa this week (finally)!