Thursday, May 27, 2010

How to get a visa to France

I got my visa to France! So here is a brief note on things to make sure to do when you try to get your French visas.

First of all, I was applying for a long sejour student visa in San Francisco, and rules are different from consulate to consulate and from one type of visa to another (i.e., work vs. student vs. tourist). But I think these guidelines should help any application.

1. Make sure you have every single document on the list that the consulate gives you. The list should be available on the consulate website. Most important is your passport and your application. You won't be let in the door without these.

2. Copy EVERYTHING. Even if the list given to you by the consulate doesn't specifically say that you need every document copied, do it anyway.

3. Keep everything organized. Make one folder for original documents, and one for photocopies, and tab things so that you can find them quickly. I was standing at a little window, not sitting at a table as I expected, and it made it difficult to sift through papers.

4. Apply to CampusFrance early.

5. Do everything as early as possible, in fact. Make your appointment early, get as many documents as you can as quickly as possible. My roommate was working on getting stuff put together for her Spanish visa and the process was much more stressful than mine because she didn't get everything done as early as I did (not entirely her fault). Above all, don't procrastinate.

5. Buy your plane ticket before going to the consulate -- if you're worried about being awarded the visa, buy insurance on the ticket. For a long sejour, you only need a one-way ticket to France.

6. Try to speak in French with the people there. I don't know if this actually helped me, but even though I misunderstood him when he told me to put my four right fingers on the finger printing machine (come on, I don't even know the word in English), it seemed to make the appointment go much smoother. He chatted with me about where he was from and the programs I'm going to, and then he told me that Paris would be beautiful without Parisians. I won't say if I agree or not. At least say "Bonjour Madame/Monsieur" as a greeting and "Bon journée Madame/Monsieur" when you leave, even if you know no other French.

As long as you come fully prepared with every document you need, your passport, and a copy of everything, you should be set!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blogging? Let's do it!

Hello everyone!

I haven't really started my travels yet (44 days til I leave!) but a few people recommended that I create a blog as a more-legit-than-facebook way to stay in touch with people. So I'm trying it out! The idea is that I'll write something here every few days about what's happening. Although I do want to write in French (I desperately need the practice) I'll make sure to provide an English translation. It will serve a dual purpose: to inform those of you who speak English, and to explain my garbled French to those of you who speak both.

So far my travel plans are this:
June 24: leave for Paris, stay with Guillaume, hang out in the city for a weekend, drop off my stuff
June 29: leave for Denmark, volunteer at the Roskilde festival with Johannes (still waiting to find out if I can do it)
July 5: leave for Nice, farm in Puget-Theniers, chez Colette, Claude et Kin
Mid-September: return to Paris, begin my studies with APA (taking general classes in the Parisian university system, live with a host family)
First two weeks of January: break! Come visit! Travels! Couch surfing!
Mid-January: begin my studies with CIEE (taking intensive critical theory classes through the CIEE program, live in student housing)

I expect lots of visitors (that means you), especially second semester because I will be able to give you a place to stay. As it is, I'm still working on getting my visa, packing, learning the subjunctive (I didn't really take French 3), and ironing out plans in Denmark.

Any suggestions? Requests? Thoughts?

Rachel, une américaine (almost) à Paris