Why You Wanna Give Me a Run-Around?

“Hi, I was wondering who I could talk to about studying abroad in Ireland?”

I ask a shorthaired woman sitting behind a side desk at the Study Abroad Office in Living and Learning section B.

“Have you attended an info session?”

“Yes, I already know which program I want to go on. I just need to know if it’s approved by UVM.”

“Have you compared it with the approved programs sheet?” “No. Where’s that?”

“Right over here.”

She leads me down a short hallway into a room on the right, holding one long couch and a wall stacked with brochures and pamphlets about studying in different countries.

The approved program sheet is a stack of about twenty pages laminated in orange tinted paper. She hands it to me and says, “If you have any questions, feel free to ask Sarah.”

Sarah peeps her head out from her corner desk behind the door and smiles.

I sat down on the sofa and flipped through the stack of papers in search of my program. It wasn’t there.

I figured it wouldn’t be because the program I picked, a six-week intensive writing course in Galway, Ireland, doesn’t correspond with any majors we have here at UVM.

I glance over at Sarah hidden in the corner and ask, “Let me ask you something. I already know what program I want to go on. I have it right here in my bag. But it’s not approved according to this sheet. Is there a way to get around that? Is there somebody here I can talk to?”

“Have you been to an info session?”

“Well, no, actually,” I lower my voice.

“I figured that since I already picked my program I didn’t need to go to one.”

“You really need to go to an info session.”

“Okay, but none of the scheduled info sessions times work for me.”

The office posts a sign up sheet outside the office for three scheduled times a week. If you have class or a prior engagement, you’re out of luck.

I have classes for the next three weeks of scheduled times. Sarah replies, “Well, we can set you up with a peer advisor to have a one on one info session.” “Who do I see about that?” “You can set one up with me.”

“Okay, how’s right now?” “Right now doesn’t work for me.”

“Okay, how about tomorrow?”

“I can only do info sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays.” “How about next Monday? This time?”

“Well, I’m new here. I’m not sure I’ll be prepared by Monday.” “So can I come Wednesday?” “Yeah, okay, um, here’s my email address so you can email me what time you want to come.”

She hands me a neatly folded piece of paper.

I don’t take the paper from her hand.

“I can come at this time next Wednesday.”

“Oh, well, here, just in case you…”

She hands me the paper again.

“I’m not going to change my mind. Look,” I lower my voice again, “I know which program I want to go on. It’s right here in my bag. I’m all ready to apply. All I need to know is how to appeal it to UVM. Is there any chance that I can talk to someone about this right now?”

“Well, we do have a woman who specializes in Ireland, but…” she hesitates.

“Hold on.”

She walks five steps to the end of the sofa and slides inside the open doorway that leads to a private office.

I hear lowered voices for a half a minute and then Sarah steps back out.

“Margaret really thinks you should attend an info session first.”

I take a deep breath.

“When can I talk to Margaret?”

“Well, she doesn’t do her own scheduling. You can make your own appointment at the main office.”


I throw my bag over my shoulder, pick up my jacket and march off down the short hall to the main office.


A new girl greets me.

“Hi, I need to make an appointment to see Margaret, the woman who specializes in Ireland.”

“Have you been to an info session?”

“No, but…”

“Well, you can’t see a peer advisor until you go to an info session.”

She looks down.

“I am aware of this. I have an info session set up next Wednesday at 11:15.”


“I want to set up a meeting with Margaret as soon as I can after that.”

“Alright, when’s a good time for you?”

“How about right after my info session? Around 12:00?”

She plunks a few keys on the keyboard and scrolls down the screen.

“Margaret’s not in on Wednesdays.”

“Oh, really?”

Isn’t Margaret in her office right now?

Isn’t it Wednesday?

“Then how about Thursday?”

“Can you come sometime between nine and 11?”

“I have class until 12:30.” “Margaret leaves at 12:00 on Thursdays.”

I grit my teeth.

“How about Friday?” “Margaret isn’t in on Fridays.”

“Okay, when can I meet with Margaret?”

“How’s Monday? 3:00?” “Fine.”

“You better come at 3:30 just to be safe.”

“So the soonest appointment I can get with Margaret is a week from next Monday?”

“Yeah, sorry.”

“Look,” I lean down, put both hands on her desk and look her dead in the eyes.

“All I need to know is how to appeal the program I want to go on. I already know which program I’m going on. It’s here in my bag. Do you know who I can talk to about this?”

“I think you learn about that at the info session.”

I stand straight again, shoulder my pack and pull my hat over my head.

“Great, thanks.”

I stride out of the office and open the doors to the outside.

A huge gust of wind throws a tuft of snow into my eye.