Now that I have gone through the french immigration process, I feel more certified to be a politician.
—– Last Thursday—-
Last Thursday, I arrived at the french immigration office thirty minutes early hoping to beat the “crowd” to get my final visa.( whomever this crowd was supposed to be)
I met another student from my program in the waiting room who was in the same situation as me. She too had unintentionally received the long stay visa that involved further investigations.
After waiting half an hour past our appointment time, we were herded into the doctors’ quarters for our required health examination.
That’s when the fun began.
A nurse called me over to a room, making an awkward face, rephrasing my name in multiple accents, looking at me, squinting at the paper, looking at me again, telling me how original my name was for “une fille” laughing but still looking confused and then asking me to pee in a cup.
no big deal.
Then another nurse weighed me and tested my vision.
I passed with flying colors despite the copious amounts of bread I have devoured that morning and my blurry contacts.
I was then corralled by a nurse into what can best described as a makeshift cubical closet. She pointed at a picture tacked on the wall of a woman who was half naked from the waist up. She then pointed at me, the photo, at me again, and closed the door. I was hesitant to undress but did as I was told.
I stood there for a good ten minutes, awkwardly holding my bra over my chest when suddenly a door opened behind me. In walked a french man yelling at me to put down my bra and to follow him through a brightly lit doorway.
My first thoughts were:
“That’s a man nurse.”
Stupefied, I had no other choice but to follow this irritable little man into a white tiled room that beheld the infamous immigration xray.
There, the man told me to stand, chest forward against a white screen. He pushed me forward into the cold plastic and ran off telling me not to move so he could take a clear photo of my chest.
This was obviously the moment I had been looking forward to this morning while eating my host family’s Special K cereal and thinking to myself “Hell yah, immigration today. Can’t wait for my nudies.”
He took the photo and I bolted for the door, hands covering my chest.
I changed and waited for the next nurse to pick me up.
In the mean time, my friend from school was now in the “makeshift cubicle closet”. I heard her gasp and I knew the man nurse had made his magical appearance. Minutes later, she was sitting next to me completely shocked.
As we sat and bonded over our bad luck and present sense of violation, I was asked into yet another office for my final nurse encounter.
Inside the office, my blood pressure and temperature were tested. Apparently this process could only be done topless… duh.
I was then interrogated about my past vaccinations and medical history. I was given a pamphlet on tetanus shots despite my being up to date. Apparently, one can never be too sure of one’s next encounter with old rusty… neverrrrrrr.
Likewise, my health status was finally french approved and I was sent to the second floor to wait for my visa stamp.
An hour passed.
A woman entered the room and casually informed me that they did not have any visa stamps in stock. I was asked to return when they acquired the stamps.
“When should I expect to come back here?”
“oohlala. Je ne sais pas, maybe next week?” d’accord?”
yeh so it has been a full week and I have had zero contact with the immigration office.
That being said I am glad I went through this process. This experience has shown me a glimpse into the horrifying world of paper work and lines that people must face to immigrate to the other countries.
I hope more than ever that fancy pants politicians who rage about border issues go through this process too. They need to understand what current immigration regulations already entail. These immigrants they condemn are students, families, and most important of all, humans.