February 8, 2011 · Posted in news, personal, photos, travel · Comment 

The past few months have been one great thing after another.

I got the opportunity to spend New Year’s Day in Colombia, which is better than any fourth of July celebration in any American city. In the US, where there’s an hour of fireworks displays, in Medellín, Colombia, the fireworks last the entire evening, night and into early morning. If one didn’t know any better, you’d swear you were living in a war zone with constant gun fire. It was truly amazing. The same thing happens on Christmas.

I also got married in Colombia, so that was kind of a big deal. We rented out a extremely fancy club and  partied until 4AM; then, we went to an after party. Also, my family got to see the amazing landscape that happens in no other place in the world except Colombia.

Too many things have happened since, so I have to keep this short, or not post it at all

Enjoy the photos:

Photos of the Week: Faces in Places

October 20, 2010 · Posted in art, photography, photos, photos of the week, projects · Comment 

We went to a Latino Festival in Roanoke, which was filled with Colombians. The food was great, the people were interesting and the displays were very beautiful. We met a mother from Colombia whose little girl dress in the traditional dress from Antioquia, the state that Ana is from. Then two Colombian girls danced a traditional dance from the coast area of the country.

The next two photos are of ours and a friend’s dog on our recent hike to McAfee Knob.



Colombian Dance Team

Colombian Dance Team





Learn Spanish, or any other language

October 14, 2010 · Posted in advice, goals, travel · Comment 

If you have a library card to the local Blacksburg library, across the street from Rocket Music and the police station, you can access a pretty good online tutor called Mango Languages. Just search for Mango on this page. Both the card and the subscription to Mango Languages are free.

Also, here’s a list of some websites to learn Spanish and other languages. Don’t pay for anything online. They’re all a waste of money. There’s a lot of great content online for free and most people don’t follow through long enough for it to be worth it.

Language Podcasts

Podcasts are also a great, free option. Go to the iTunes store, and search for Spanish or which ever language you want to learn and subscribe to as many teaching podcasts as you can handle. For Spanish, I recommend:

Learn to Speak Spanish with Discover Spanish
Coffee Break Spanish

Some language podcasts are taught by English speakers who have horrible accents, but they’re worth a listen, but don’t put much effort into replicating their pronunciation.


After you go through those for a while, you should get a book if you decide to continue learning it, otherwise I’d stick with the online content until you’re positive you want to learn it. I personally have a good reason to try to learn these languages, but if it’s just for fun you might find yourself getting tired of it.

Books provide a level of intensity and authority that you’ll need, but only after you’re sure you want to get that far into it. Almost any book with an accompanying CD should be good, but make sure to look through the book to see if it matches up with the way you learn. By going through the free content first, you should understand which technique best suites you.

Photos of the Week – Motion and Speed

July 26, 2010 · Posted in photography, photos, photos of the week, projects · Comment 

While I took a lot of photos this week, since we have a deadline fast approaching I didn’t have time to specifically take photos for this theme, so the last one is a bit of a stretch. But, in the very least, they’re still photos of the week. Enjoy!

Here’s Sam’s submission.


May 19, 2010 · Posted in advice, goals, news, personal · Comment 

This is no way intended to be a guide to immigration through marriage, just an account of the work process and work we did to accomplish this.

Petition for a Family Member

It’s kind of strange to call someone you’re going to be married to a relative, but that’s what it’s referred to. Any legal resident can petition the government to allow immediate family to join them in the United States. This is the case if you’re an immigrant or a citizen. Upon marrying someone, a citizen can request that the government allow the spouse to enter, live and work within the US. The spouse, if already in the US, can update their visa from, in our case, an F1 student visa, to permanent resident status. The law gets really tricky if you enter the US on a non-immigration visa, in other words not intending to immigrate, after having filed a Petition for Alien Relative. And yes, they call them aliens.

The form, I-130, is just a form stating who I am, how I’m legally in this country (through birth), and what my relation is to the person for whom I’m petitioning. Pretty straight forward.

Changing Visa Status

At the same time, we file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, form I-485. This allows Ana to update her F1 visa to a Permanent Resident visa. After having filed this, she can not leave the country and return on her F1 visa. The reason is, upon entering the US under an F1 student visa, she is stating that by entering on a non-immigration visa, she is not intending to stay in the country, which would be false, since she has filed for permanent residency. It makes sense, but is something people need to be aware of. To get around this, there is another form I-131, Application for Travel Document, that we would need to file until she’s approved for a green card so that she can travel to Colombia or somewhere else on our honeymoon.

Additional Forms

There are a few more forms to file, such as an Application for Employment Authorization, form I-765, biographic information, form G-325A and my favorite, form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, which will send me an email and/or text message when my application has changed status.

The process is pretty straight forward, but we consulted with a lawyer first to know what we were getting ourselves into. The tough part is understanding each form that needs to be filed, how to file it, what you need to file it properly and gathering all the other information and supporting documents that are needed. We can hire a lawyer to do all of this for us after we get married, but we don’t have the money right now. But we’re confidant we can properly do all of this. The trick is just taking a bit at a time and a lot of reading. Each government form has accompanying instructions to follow so it makes the process a lot less daunting.

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