Eventually, it turned out, I was the first person with the forms, the first time they had seen the forms, and now I'm the first person with the visa! What a shocker.
So here I am, the first Irish person to be in the U.S. on the new extended J-1 visa.
Ironically and, admittedly, I was on the verge of becoming an illegal immigrant.
Now I always think of the plight of the hundreds of thousands who are.
I was lucky. I have a loving boyfriend and parents who supported me mentally and financially, and I have contacts here which may lead me to a decent job, but I imagine the Irish graduate students who follow me on this visa might not be so lucky.
If you, or someone you know, has graduated from third level education in Ireland in the past 12 months, has endless patience, doesn't mind being put on hold for hours, can hold a fake smile and has roughly $1,000 to spend on getting the visa, visit Dublin's U.S. Embassy Web site.
It's definitely worth it.