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!

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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!

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!

Oh, that language of love…

Today I was able to get one more document completed and ready for the obtainment of this visa. My cover letter to the consul general is done!

Every time I read French, have a lesson, or simply listen to French music, I try to pick up something new and remember what I have learned. Writing this cover letter was a nice little assignment for me and I learned a lot about the language. And even though I am learning a lot, I am still terrified that I’ll never speak this language! The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know and that learning French is not as simple as translating word for word. French writing has a style, as does English writing. Although I would love to directly translate, “I would like to obtain a 2e Visa to France and I would appreciate being considered as an eligible candidate”, and sentence like this can be directly translated while making sense, it just won’t be very French. We anglophones have developed expressions and etiquette in our language over a many number of years and so have the French, and that makes these languages very different from one another. I am not saying that my learning a ton of vocabulary plus different ways to structure sentences and many different verb tenses is all for waste, because they do say that you cannot build a house from the top floor down but you must always start with the foundation. So I am currently pouring the cement into a gigantic French language vortex I have dug, and starting to understand this language of love more and more. I can see that what I am learning now (these awesome building blocks!) will enable me to hear people out and speak in sentences that others will definitely understand (although they may not be correct), so I can at least communicate with my future neighbours. I can also see that the real learning, the really juicy, building the home part of  learning this language, will only happen while I am in France, learning the French style and being immersed in it everyday.

Am I scared? Maybe a little. At this same time, this is kind of a fun challenge and even writing about this has me excited for the moment I step off the plane and realize that its all sink or swim…

Obtaining The Visa

I have finally set up the blog to my liking! Now I will begin my tales of this adventure.

When I first began researching going to France, I immediately went on the French Consulate website for Toronto (every Canadian city has a similar website although the main consulate is in Ottawa). Would it even be possible for me to stay in France for over the 3 month visiting limit? I found out it was, and I had a few different options. Here they are:

  1. Become a visitor for a year. I would need proof of enough financial support to carry me over for a year without an income. I would have also needed to sign a contract saying that I would not obtain work in France.
  2. Find a job in France while still in Canada and get them to sponsor my trip.

Neither of these visas would work for me as I want to go for a year and find a job while I am there.

Upon further researching, I found out that Canada and France have an excellent youth exchange agreement. This agreement allows youth between 18-35 to travel to France for a longer period of time for a few different reasons: 1) To study 2) To obtain an internship 3) to work and learn about the culture, and 4) a few different reasons that I do not care to mention.

And there it was! I was staring at my computer screen as if I had just run into a pot of gold! I would get the 2E visa to France, the working holiday Visa! Easy as pie, right? Well… the requirements seem easy enough except for one! In order to obtain this Visa I would need proof of at least $3000 in my bank account. And now I am saving my money like a mad woman, doing everything possible to come up with these necessary funds.

Some (but not all) of the other requirements include:

  • A letter from provincial insurance stating that I will be covered over the duration of my trip
  • A cover letter to the consulate (preferably written in French) stating why I want to go
  • Proof of enough financial means for a plane ticket on top of the other funds
  • Travel medical insurance to cover me for the duration of the trip
  • 3rd part liability insurance coverage (still do not know how to obtain this!)
  • Photos, forms and some other little tidbits!

The rest is pretty manageable. This week I am holding myself accountable for writing the french cover letter (a challenge, but manageable thanks to having a handy french boyfriend and a pretty great french teacher), checking out where I can get this liability insurance, contacting OHIP (provincial medical insurance) for my letter, filling out the forms and getting my pictures taken (CHEESE!).

I am currently a sales associate at a clothing store and I make great ties with my customers. Luckily I have a regular customer interested in this little (or BIG) adventure also holding me accountable for this list of to-dos. I will get them done and move some of this trip energy!

I have also decided to sell my drumset 😦 . I hope it goes to a good home where it will be loved and well taken care of. Knowing that the money will go into a great investment for my life and one day become 10 fold what I am selling it for (because of the amazing things I will get out of the trip), I am very willing to part!

Anyway, that is all about this visa for now!