Saturday, October 22, 2011

My rendez-vous with the french immigration office

Anything that has to do with government papers, travel, citizenship, or bureaucracy in general is a headache. But like so many other things the french take it to an art form.  At 8:30 this past Friday morning, some of my fellow Smith students and I found ourselves in a chaotic line of prospective immigrants outside the french immigration office near the Bastille, and thankfully only a 15 minute walk from chez moi. 

Once let into the building we went through the first sorting process, those with appointments and those without.  After proving that we did indeed belong there at that specific time, we eventually were told to "installez-vous" in the medical waiting room, a place that looked like a cross between a doctors office and a police station.  after a wait we had our eyes checked and our heights and weights recorded (useful because until then I no idea what my measurements were in the metric system). We then had to halfway de-robe and get pulmonary x-rays to check for tuberculosis (best part is I got to keep the x-ray).  Then came individual doctor meetings, where my doctor stressed that I should be eating more five or six times, not appreciated.

Finally, a meeting with an immigration officer, where we showed proof of residence and got a fancy sticker put in our passports.

All in all, maybe the most complicated yet most efficient bureaucratic experience of this whole study-abroad process, and an interesting insight into the immigration process. 

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