And I Continue This Blog

As you may or may not have noticed, I have not been posting. Mainly because of my recent lack of ability to concentrate and partly because of some extremely busy periods doing “life”.

Tomorrow is my appointment with the consulate. I didn’t realize how quickly this date would come upon me but it is here in less than 24 hours!! I am so nervous that I do not want to write too much about it until after the fact. All I can say is that I really hope I am approved.

On to another subject, I almost quit the blog. I had to ask my boyfriend yesterday his opinion on me leaving this blog. He told me not to give up to fast, and he is right. I need to at least give this a chance first. It is definitely not that I have writer’s block. I have plenty of very interesting topics to write about. I really just think the nerves that have been lingering within me lately have been feeding me a slow whisper of “You cannot do it, only bad things will happen, don’t even try, take a break, forget about it.” But writing today is bringing back the love I have.

And speaking of my boyfriend (Was I speaking of him?), he will be heading home to France this coming Saturday. I am sad. The work permit papers never ended up coming through and the wait was simply too long, he needs to obtain a job, and I understand. And more than understanding I support him and I am happy for him. The relief in his body I feel when I am with him is relieving for me too and finally he can see all his friends and family. The three months we will be apart will not be too bad. Of course I am going to miss him like crazy. I absolutely love being with him and spending time with him and not being with him for these few months will be an interesting change. And really awesome couples I know in my own life and in history have also had to take large, large amounts of time away from their other half and it is so encouraging. I cannot wait to see him in September, fresh, relaxed, renewed and ready to see Mon Homme with the attitude of “I did it! We did it! What a great reward being here in France with you!”

Ok, this is the post for today. Thanks for reading and next time I post, it will be with the grandest news ever!

Filling out the long term visa application for France

The title of this post spells out exactly what I will write about today.

As you may know, one of the very first steps I took towards moving to France was researching the types of visas and choosing one. After I chose the youth working holiday visa (2E) I logically printed out the online package (as linked on the right of this blog).

What I am trying to say is that I have had this visa package full of instructions, guidelines and the application forms themselves  for nearly 5 months. I could have filled out the forms months ago but instead I decided to save all the money needed, write my cover letter en francais, get the insurance, the photos, the photocopies, all-in-all, EVERYTHING completed. Yet, until a couple of days ago, these form lay unattended. I had peaked at them 10 or maybe 20 times over these 5 months but never dared touched them.

Why? You may ask. This seems like I pretty basic thing to do. Well, not when you are me! When this has been your dream for 10 plus years! When any mistake on those two pages can hinder your ability to obtain that visa! Ok, breather. I guess it is not that big of a deal. But when I looked at those forms all I could see were the side panels which read “for administration use only” and underneath this column lays two boxes (one to be checked off by the administration) reading “granted” and “not granted”. They will literally choose whether or not to give me the visa, right before my eyes, on that very application form. I better freaking fill it out correctly! On top of the pressure to fill these babies out perfectly, they come with a little glitch: The page attached explaining what goes into each box is wrong. The explanations do not match the boxes on the form so therefore I filled them out how I thought I should and had to disregard the instructions. French consulate, please review that page and fix it!

Finally, on Sunday, I built up enough courage to once and for all tackle these forms. I was as honest as I could have been, was very straight forward in all the boxes and I also have a verbal explanation ready for the boxes I filled out that may be ambiguous to someone trying to figure out what my plans are exactly.

Thankfully I have my boyfriend’s parents in France who are serving as my “home-stay” family just in case anything goes wrong while I am there. I added them into my application and their address as the place I will stay, even though I also wrote I will immediately look for a place in Lille. I am sure this could seem a little confusing to the consulate. “She says she will live in Lille when she arrives but she also says she will stay in Reims.” I tried my best to make the situation very clear to them. But anyway, I am ready with responses to any of their questions.

That box will be checked “granted” I am sure!

A French in Canada

Soon I will be a Canadian in France. I will have to face the challenges of speaking the language and getting a job, supporting myself, and integrating into a new culture. I will be making new friends, finding my new fav places to shop and eat and starting with only two suitcases of my stuff.

My boyfriend, being a French in Canad, shows me how some of these challenges may play out when I am in France. As he, himself, has had to go through this process when he stepped off the plane (his English was already pretty fluent though!).

He needs to obtain a internship work permit here in Canada.  He already has a job offer and yet has to wait up to 44 days for the permit to be approved! How stressful this is to wait to work for a job that has already been offered!

My lesson learned, expect to wait in France and be financially and mentally prepared for this. I will also apply as early as possible.

I Dream Of Consulate Appointments

I would love to have the “I dream of Jeannie” theme song for you to begin this post, but I am yet to be that computer savvy (I am sure it will come with time). Here is the written version: Do do, do do-do do do, do do, do-do do do do, do do, do-do do do do, DO! I am sure that will be difficult to understand if you have never seen that TV show!

Last night I dreamt of my appointment at the consulate. I remember the dream very clearly as it was the last dream I had before I woke up. Here is what happened: I am called to the desk by an older gentleman. I walk up to the desk, dressed casually with my folder in hand with all the documents. I remember having a gut feeling that I was not prepared enough and would not be granted the visa (of course my worse fears would be played out in the dream). The man begins to speak to me IN FRENCH! And I speak back in French, a very slow, broken French. I remember speaking, and saying things that made sense but at this point, I have no clue what was actually said. He decides to switch my case over to a younger woman. She spoke in English. She was going through the documents and I realized that I had forgotten to provide the necessary photocopies and I had not typed up the documents. The letter, for example, was hand written, in pencil, on lined paper (worst case scenario!!). I realized what I had done wrong and decided, on a whim, to ask her straight up, “So, can I have the visa?” She of course said that they would not provide the visa. Well, me being myself, decided to tell her that even though they would not grant it today, I had booked another appointment a couple of days later. I remember trying to reach the humanity in this lady and said, “Please, as a friend, since I will be back anyway, tell me what I can do to obtain the visa in a couple of days.” She looked at me, pitifully, and sighed. Then, she proceeded to tell me that I needed to type out my documents, provide the necessary photocopies (obviously!), dress professionally and use Aveda skin lotion on my face.

You heard me right! I needed to use Aveda skin lotion on my face! How this would help me obtain the visa, only my subconscious mind will know.

Even though this is a dream, it really brought me some insight. I need to take this seriously. My broken French cannot save me if I am not fully prepared. And because of this dream, I will dress professionally for my appointment!

I am now also seriously debating buying some Aveda skin lotion for good luck!

I woke up right after the dream. Mon homme lay beside me sound asleep, but not for long. I tapped him, calling his name, “Max! Max! Max!” He answered with a muffled yes. “Today, can we go over the letter to the consulate again?” he answered with another muffled yes and we both fell back asleep.

And with that I leave you with this: If you want this visa, use Aveda!

Thanks for reading!

It Was a Successful Bridal Shower

Happy mother’s day! I am so lucky to have a mom who supports me running away to France!

I am also very happy to report the total and complete success of the bridal shower I held for my sister. This has been the key factor in preventing me from my consistent blogging for the last couple of weeks. But, all in all, I pulled it off. It was a blast for everyone involved, with fun games, awesome decor, and a plethora of food (not to mention a lot of left overs as well).

I served many different dishes for lunch, and as expected, Julia Child’s French dish won over the crowd. I made her spinach turnovers as featured in her television series “The French Chef”. Here is the link to the recipe.

The cupcake display looked magical with rich homemade chocolate cakes topped with bright pink buttercream swirled on top. This was definetely a little reminder as to how much I love cooking and baking for other people!

I also learned this weekend, that my little sister (who would like to become a pastry chef herself) dreams of moving to France as well! How cool that both of us share similar aspirations.

Pictures of the amazing food will be posted shortly along with the recipes.

I am also itching to start another blog devoted to my adventures on the kitchen(but more on that later)…

The Plane Ticket

I am finally writing again after a very long (busy) break.

The bridal shower that I have been going on about is coming up in just a few short days and I am procrastinating everything until the last possible second. Downfall: The longer I procrastinate the more time I spend worrying about the shower, so I end up wasting time just thinking! Tomorrow, I have a day off of work, so I will powerhouse through the shower “to-do” list.

Also, I BOUGHT MY PLANE TICKET!!!! YAY!!! I think that is so awesome. I will give you the details in a second, but first let me rejoice!

I am so excited! Another huge step (and deficit in my bank account) and I am that much closer to being in France. I will arrive in France on the 16th of this coming September at 8:30 am! Wooooohooooo! The ticket even tells me the type of airplane I will be flying in, a 77W (the ones with a trillion seats)(ignore the exaggeration). I looked this aircraft up on Wikipedia to see how safe it would be. I know, I know, that may seem ridiculous. This is all necessary in getting over the fear, I need to know what I am getting myself into, prep myself, face it square in the face. But later posts in this topic. There were a few incidents with the craft but since the time of these incidents, corrections and improvements have been made. Good to know!

The Price

Total cost of plane ticket: $1389.92. Way more than I expected. (This is from Toronto-Paris with a stay of longer than 6 months). Just a note: The embassy will ask you for the plane ticket OR $1000 (from the Toronto region) or $1500 (from the Vancouver region). This is clearly NOT accurate! My plane ticket was $400 more than I had expected based on their estimation and I am booking way ahead of time. Generally, plane tickets get more expensive the closer you get to the date (unless you fly last-minute which may not be the brightest idea in obtaining a visa).

On being prepared for the consulate appointment

Based on what I have heard, and read, and researched, when you book your appointment with the consulate, you must be completely prepared. I would rather go to the consulate with a plane ticket in hand rather than the proof of the funds. I want to show them that I am ready and I do not want to take the risk of being rejected.

Buying a ticket for a date over a year in the future

Just a note when wanting to travel for the year: The consulate asks you for a return flight ticket. Air Canada and I am assuming many other airlines, do not have the schedules for the year ahead. So how does one book a return flight ticket? This was my initial excuse when wanting to provide the proof of funds rather than the actual ticket to the consulate. Well, call the airline, tell them your plan. Air Canada does not even give out open return date tickets so I let them know that I wanted a ticket but I needed to return on August 30, 2012. The rep on the phone booked me for the last possible date she could book me and wrote a note on the ticket to say my actual return date is Aug 30, 2012 and that when flights become available for that date, I can change it, free of charge! There, a great solution!

I printed the ticket out and had them send it to me by mail!

Plane ticket…Check!

Just a note on the supplementary travel health insurance

Five minutes after I purchased the plane ticket, I called Blue Cross and asked them for some travel health insurance for the year. You must call them if your travels are for a long period of time, and you must let them know that you have an extension with the provincial health insurance (which I received a month ago).

Cost of the supplementary health insurance: $701.

What an expensive day. Oh, but I am so excited!

I was given a gift…

Bonjour mes amies! Long post today (bear with me).

Mon voyage is just around the corner and I am beginning to taste it! I have booked the appointment with the French consulate for June 15th, exactly 3 months before I want to leave. The earliest you can book an appointment is three months before the leave date, and as I want to leave September 15th I am taking no chances! I have heard rumors (around the internet) that the consulate only gives out an allotted number of 2E Visas for the year. I emailed them and asked them if they would still have some in July. Their response was, “Our records show we will still have visas in July although we cannot guarantee this.” I took that as book as early as possible. My sister’s wedding is on the last week of August on a cruise in Alaska!!!! So therefore the 15th of September seems like the earliest possible date.

Money has been the largest stress in obtaining this visa. As I have mentioned before, I am working at a clothing store, so my wage is not very large. I have been on an incredibly strict budget since February and have been saving most of what I make since then. I pay the bills I need to pay and also take French lessons once a week. Groceries and transportation are basically the only things I can buy on this budget. So, as you can imagine, I have been a little stressed over the past few months.

“Why are you doing this?” You may ask. “Is it so important that you are giving up your lifestyle just to go on this trip?”, “Can’t you postpone the trip so saving won’t be as stressful?”

I was goal-less you see. I truly believe that a huge component of human happiness lies in accomplishing goals. In late December I realized that the school program I was attending was not aligned with my core values or beliefs. I simply did not want to invest in a career I did not want to pursue. In January I was goal-less. I have been mentioning wanting to move to France for years now but always felt it wasn’t the right time. Well, the right time knocked on my door in late January.

Perfect timing looks like this: No school, stuck in dead-end (low wage) job, dream of going to France, itching for a mission, French boyfriend, sister being married off, best-friend breaking up with me, other best friend moving out of country, other best friend having a new relationship, my aunt’s boyfriend moving into our already cramped apartment…

I told you…Its perfect timing! As for choosing September, like I mentioned before, these visas run out (and who really wants to be apart from their love for too long!)

So I have cut back and saved everything I could have saved. Recently I truly began to appreciate this new lifestyle. I felt like I have been practicing for the way I may need to live in France. I stopped spending every paycheck on things I don’t need, books I don’t read, food that sits in the fridge and goes bad, and all non-essentials. I have been visiting the library, savouring my French lessons and spending quality time with friends. The money was accumulating and I was constantly hoping for an unexpected source of income to relieve that burden. I knew that even if I were to get an unexpected source of income I would still continue saving (because it feels so good!).

The other day I decided to finally  tell my aunt (whom I live with) that I will be moving to France in September. I told her the details, the amount of money I needed and the excitement I have. She left me for a few moments and returned with the remainder of the money I will need to obtain the visa!!

Isn’t that just wonderful?! I was hoping so much from the bottom of my heart that something would happen with the financial situation and lo and behold it shows up! I thanked my aunt a gazillion times (and cried in joy). This weekend my friends and I celebrated this success!

I will continue to save for the rest of my time here in Canada, as this saving is making me realize how much MORE fun I can have in France with small little sacrifices here and there. I have one more leg of this visa journey being the actual appointment and (cross my fingers, knock-on-wood, etc.) the APPROVAL of the visa! But all in all I am sure France will be seeing me shortly.

Until next time…