Thursday, April 21, 2016

This the Immigration office...

On this trip, we have crossed several hurdles, both official and cultural, to attempt to integrate into this country.  First, was the library cards, trying to obtain proctoring for exams.
Next was the Yacht Club membership,
and even the grocery discount cards...
All of these were really warm ups for the real thing...

Two months ago, on March 14th, while I was living la Dolce vita in Northern Italy I received these two emails which I quickly forwarded to Kelly Bullington labeled S#*% and S#*% part deux.

Date: March 14, 2016 at 11:01:23 AM GMT+1
Subject: Convocation pour la visite médicale
Madame, monsieur,
L'OFII, dans le cadre de ses différents dispositifs vous convoque pour la visite médicale
Dans ce contexte vous êtes convoqué(e) :
 Le 07/04/2016 à 08:30 heures
Vous trouverez dans le fichier joint tous les détails de cette convocation.

Merci de ne pas répondre à ce message.

L'Office Français de l'immigration et de l'intégration.

For those non-French speakers out there...these were "invitations" for me to show up at the Office of Immigration and Integration for a medical exam.  Needless to say, KB celebrated until she realized that she too had received these two letters.  Luckily, I was able to get my appointment postponed since the children and I were in Hyères for the Europacup on 07 avril.  Poor KB had to be the first to enter the system.  Thanks to her trailblazing, at least I knew what to expect.  My appointment was kindly rescheduled for 21 avril, 8H30.

I took a taxi this morning to the visa office- no reason for any additional anxiety from public transportation.  I have a huge binder of paperwork, photos, passport, international health insurance and a receipt for 241 euro to get another stamp in my passport so I can stay here.  The French understand ma français when they feel like it, yet no one has a problem taking my money.  
I spent the money on the taxi to avoid stress and then there was "une accidente " with Les velos(bicycles) et les voitures(cars)  

Needless to say, many emergency vehicles and commuters jammed on the Promenade des Anglais this morning at 7:50am.  

37 euro for the taxi- 
20 minutes in the grimy hallway-

a security guard with a wand checking paperwork-

and a receptionist later---I am sitting in the waiting room with a Moroccan student, a Russian housewife, Japanese students, a Muslim looking guy on a laptop, an Indian in Tevas, working on a cell phone and some Asian girls...

The Russian lady and I are the paleest and cleanest of the group.. She explained that she and her husband wanted to buy a place in California but the visa requirements were too stringent- and while she admits that the French bureaucracy is annoying, the Schengen visa is easier... And they fly here door to door in 5 hours.  

The morning chatter among employees is infuriating, I need another cup of coffee and they are taking their time- their sense of urgency seems to be missing- 
30 minutes after our appointment time, A woman in a white medical jacket just came in and called 3 students by name.  She had large paper clipped papers for each of them.  Is there a way to make sure I have a group of papers in that stack?
And we wait...

They know my name!!! They just called me and my new Russian friend to a better hall. I am in the system, no turning back now
My Russian friend is already out said they check eyes in the first room.
C'est tout .

Moving through the system- 
I was called into the first room, she checked my eyes, had me read a French passage which I butchered, weighed(a little extra considering les baguettes et les croissants) and measured me(I am tall enough to be in France) and checked passport and insurance.

Then another room where I had to take off my shirt and get a chest X-ray.
Each of them ask if I speak French - My patent response- un petit peux- Their patent response is that we will continue en français until you can't understand anymore...I continue to try, most of the instructions I can understand there are words like l'oriel(eyes), assurance(insurance), chemise(shirt) and directional words like à droit (to the right) that keep me from looking completely foolish.  

Next stop, a sweet man asking about my health, it took him several times to convince himself that my blood pressure was really that low, confirmed from my X-ray that I didn't have tuberculosis.  He stamps the visa application.

Then a lady at a desk....
Certificate de domicile(proof that I have a roof over my head)-check
Timbre(stamp that I paid 241euro for this awesomely fun morning excursion)-check
She puts a printed stamp in the passport...

Je suis finit!
And I rode the velobleu home! Feeling like an official French visiteur.

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