Wednesday, August 22, 2012


July 28

Today was my 21st birthday!!! :D Ok, it was my faux-anniversaire because I’ll be turning 21 in France.  So we had a small family gathering instead.

My Aunt and Uncle (Above) Really helped get me to France.

And Finally, My mom and I laughing over the fact that I always try to fix my hair!

Dance France

July 27th

Thanks to everyone who helped out tonight! It was an incredible night.  I couldn’t believe it. When I was cleaning up, it was kind of sad though. It’s the last time I’ll be leading songs in the US for a long time and I’ll miss my new Zumba friends. Here’s a ton of pictures. Enjoy!



visa arrival

A couple of days ago, I got my visa for France. I’m one of the first people in my study abroad group that got mine. It is absolutely gorgeous! :) I’m really excited that it arrived so fast too.

My ISIC card also just arrived. What’s silly is that it took so long to get here. I got it when I booked my flight, but it took months to get to me!  Thank goodness I ordered it early!

With these in hand, I’ll be ready to go! I can’t wait!

The Posts to Follow

So, saying my last month in the US was busy would be accurate but also an understatement. I didn't have much time to breath! So I did most of my blogging in word documents and didn't bother to add pictures or anything else. Just a paragraph or two of thoughts. So now while I wait in France for the orientation meeting, I'm uploading the finished pictures and posts. Sorry for them being so late, but enjoy!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Visa in Chicago

For my first blog post I'm going to write about my first great adventure.  On Friday I went to the French consulate in Chicago to put in my paperwork for a long-stay visa.  I had already done a lot of prep work. I'd filled out the many forms on campus France and mailed in some money.  Now it was the big day where I actually had to finish up the process.

My day began early in the morning with a stop at Fedex Kinkos.  My mom thought it would be more efficient to copy the papers there instead of our little scanner at home.  As we were just about to leave, I looked at my flight confirmation sheet and to my horror, it was the wrong day!  I had the prebooking sheet. :(  I raced to the laptop station to try and print it out but found I had to pay per minute on the network and to print the copy itself.  That wouldn't have been such a big deal, but it took forever to load the program to even begin to install the printer on my machine.  I turned to my mom in a panic and asked. Why can't they just give me a flashdrive to print this stuff out on!?!  My MOM had a flashdrive.Now I can't even explain how shocking this is. My mom can get on her email and that's about it. I'm sure that even now as she reads this, it'll be a print that my dad made for her and put on the coffee pot to read first thing in the morning.  Six minutes later, we were back on the road.  Crisis averted. 

Once actually in Chicago, we started the harrowing process to find a parking spot.  Eventually we gave up on street parking and started up the winding ramp of a self-park parking garage.  The main problem was that we both had too much coffee and water on the way to Chi-town, so we stopped in at Argo Tea.  A local on the streets had pointed the way there and the baristas were extremely nice.  It was built and set up like Starbucks with a slick floor design and colorful set up.  It also seemed to match Starbucks type drinks but with flavor intense teas.  I got the pomegranate tea and it was delicious. What a great way to relieve the heat as we walked to 205 N Michigan Ave.

Inside the building it was amazing.  The coolest thing was that you had to be checked in like at a hotel. I Got this special pass just to get to the elevators.  By this point I was elated. We'd made it here on time and everything was laid out nicely in a folder.

However, when we'd actually arrived at the visa office, I started to order everything. I looked at the check list and painstakingly went through to make sure each sheet of paper was in its proper place. Which was when I noticed the OFII form wasn't there! Where'd we put it?! Would I have to make another appointment. Would all the money and time I'd already spent be for naught?  As I looked a couple speaking a mixture of French and a West African language were trying to get a visa to France.  I don't believe they even got their application sent in. I couldn't tell the exact reason, but the woman was clearly emotional. "Je voudrais regarder ma mère. Aidez-moi. S'il vous plait.  Donnez-moi les papiers j'ai besoin.  S'il vous plait aidez-moi." [I would like to see my mother.  Help me. If you could/please. Give me the papers I need.  Please help me.]  That wasn't going to be me that day, though. The form had been put in with the Kinkos copies we made.

However, I didn't feel safe until I had handed the extremely cold and distant consultant my pre-paid express mail envelope.  Then when I handed her my credit card, she took a photo and we were done.
I felt really accomplished even though I won't know if my application is accepted until I receive my passport back.  I felt like Friday was a success and I even had some time to take some celebratory photos.

The only last shock was the price of parking ($31).  The visa ended up being a lot more expensive than I thought, but if it gets me to France, it'll be worth it.

Campus France application - $70
Prepaid express envelope - $18.99
Application process at the consulate - $64.95
White photograph (that they said I needed but retook anyway) - $9.99