One Month Out

It’s hard for me to believe that one month from today (!!!), I’ll be on my way to France for the very first time. I am equal parts bubbling with excitement and beyond nervous to arrive and get settled into small-town living, in the lovely and quaint town of Clamecy, Nièvre, Dijon. If anyone has any advice on living in a small town in France or about traveling abroad for the first time, I would greatly appreciate it 🙂

While saying goodbye to Texas last week and moving back home to Illinois was quite the transition, being home (and without a job for the next month!) has given me the opportunity to check-off quite a few things on the “need-to-do-before-I-leave” list! I’ve been able to visit the dentist, eye doctor, and general practitioner (all things that were neglected while I was at school), send back the paperwork that came with my arrête de nomination, and, most importantly, have my visa appointment!

Living in the “Chicago-land suburbs” of Illinois, it was nice not to have to worry about doing any sort of extensive travel just for my visa appointment. After triple checking that I had all the necessary paperwork, passport photos, passport, and express mail envelope, my mom and I drove to Chicago for my appointment.

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Visa appointment ready!

I was a bit stressed about the appointment beforehand due to not knowing what to expect, but after having gone through it, there is nothing to stress about! From start to finish, the whole appointment took maybe 15 minutes–and that is being generous. I even met/chatted with an assistant placed in Poitiers while we waited to turn in our paperwork. Overall, it was a short and sweet appointment!

My advice for future TAPIFers visiting the Chicago Consulate would be this:

  • Make sure your purse or backpack (if you bring one) isn’t too big! I ended up having to leave my purse with my mom during the appointment because they said it was too big to bring up with me (for reference, my purse is wide enough to fit a 15-inch MacBook Pro).
  • When they ask for your paperwork, make sure to hand it all over at once and not one thing at a time.
  • I wasn’t sure if they were going to speak to me in French or not, but they asked every question in English and didn’t seem to mind that I responded in English as well.
  • The website says that you have to give them a USPS Express Mail Envelope without the label affixed but filled out as instructed on the website–they did not seem to care that the label was already on the envelope before I gave it to them.

After my appointment ended, my mom and I decided to be a tourist in our own city by taking a Lake & River Tour! I unknowingly booked my visa appointment for the Friday before the Chicago Air & Water Show, so we decided to take full advantage of being downtown on the day where all the planes practice their stunts! Needless to say, there is something really cool about watching aerobatic planes and a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor doing flips and nosedives from a boat on Lake Michigan!

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Overall, it was a successful visa appointment and a fun-filled day downtown!

I have no doubt that this next month is going to be filled with fun, excitement, nervousness, and endless preparation, but I hope to live them all to the fullest and enjoy every second I have with my friends and family before I head off for the adventure of a lifetime.

I’ll see you soon-ish, France.

Until next time,

Michaela

4 thoughts on “One Month Out

  1. Rosie says:

    Funny to think that three years ago, I was in exactly the same position as you – a month away from flying out to France to be an assistante. How time flies! I really enjoyed living in a smaller town on my year abroad – it was easier to integrate into local life, and much better for improving my French 🙂 If you haven’t already, it’s well worth drawing up a packing list a little in advance, as some (often very mundane) items are harder to come across in France (e.g. ziploc bags, lined paper).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michaela says:

      It’s going to be pretty different but I am excited to start living in the community (and improving my French is going to be wonderful!)

      Ahh, I’ve been trying to avoid doing a packing run-through because I know I’ll have to face the fact that there won’t be nearly enough space to accommodate everything I wish I could bring. But thanks for the heads-up about items like ziploc bags-I wouldn’t have considered they might be hard to find.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rosie says:

        If it’s any consolation, I’ve found that when it comes to it, the packing is never as bad as I imagined it to be. (Both times I lived abroad, I had one big suitcase in the hold and a smaller one as hand luggage.) It definitely helps that schools in France are much more relaxed, so you can wear pretty casual clothes to work and avoid having to pack a “work” and a “casual” wardrobe, so to speak.

        Like

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