This morning I managed to connect to the Goucher Database and do some research for my exposé (presentation). I used the proxy method so I’m not sure how long it’ll work for or anything like that. My exposé is on Immigration to Belleville, Goucher sources didn’t have anything on Belleville specifically, but I think what I found will be very useful for the actual numbers of immigrants coming to France, and why they came.
After my fabulous nutella and jelly lunch, I headed to my OFII doctors appointment. I left an hour early because I knew that if all went well I could get there in an hour, but I can never risk anything when it comes to visa forms. Luckily, I found the place easily and a half hour early. So, I explored the area a bit, I found a French version of Hot Topic and a store with lots of cute little nick-knacks that will be perfect for Christmas presents. Also, apparently there a lots of expensive Indian restaurants near Bastille, I’m not sure why, but one day I might just have to spoil myself, or Suman can come here and cook for me, either way. Ten to two, I went into the OFII building to find that 10 minutes early made me one of the last people in line. But, there were chairs so I just sat down and worked on my exposé for the hour or so before they called me name. Then, I gave them my appointment sheet and stuck the 55 euro stamp to my paper, and waited a half hour. Then, they took an X-Ray of my lungs (note to anybody who has to do OFII, anybody else feel free to skip this, remember, this is France, they respect your privacy but they’re still French and doctors. There are no paper privacy t-shirts in France, get it?), checked my eye-sight, height and weight. Then I spoke with a doctor who showed me my X-Ray (and let me keep it to hang on my wall, they give it to everybody but he actual said I could put it on my wall, and I did. I was going to put in on my fridge but there isn’t enough room), explained that I was a perfectly healthy human being, asked some medical history, and asked if I had any questions. Then they stuck my OFII sticker in my passport and voila, fini. Going to the OFII office was honestly one of the easiest parts of my visa experience. At first I was freaked out because it reminded me a bit of waiting in NYC, but everybody turned out to be extremely nice. Everybody would speak to me in French, ask if I wanted English when I didn’t understand, then when I said I could speak French they would switch back no questions asked, completely polite. It’s pretty rare that people do that in France because normally they think they’re being polite by speaking jumbled English. Also, I completely screwed up at the end, and they laughed it off. They asked for my passport, and I said “but i gave it to you” and they said “I gave it back” and we went back and forth until finally the lady said, look in your bag. So, I did, and it was there. I felt like a complete jerk but they didn’t care, they just laughed and had that look of “Everybody does it, no worries.” From what I’ve heard, not all OFII experiences are as easy as this, but don’t go into the office assuming they’re gonna run all sorts of tests on you and make you wanna scream. Everybody I met was incredibly nice and understanding of the fact that we’re all foreigners and it’s a new experience for every person.
Since OFII ran so long, I missed my grammar class, so I took advantage of the time to look for a new pair of shoes. I went to Les Halles Chaussures (or something like that) near Bastille. It’s basically a big Payless but better quality and more expensive, maybe DSW or something like that. I didn’t find a pair of winter shoes or boots, but I did find a pair of tennis shoes on sale for 15 euros, which will give my feel a nice break from my converses and yet are insanely less American than my sneakers.
Then, I took the bus back to the foyer, got my meal tickets for the month, and attempted to get some work done before dinner.
For dinner we ate at the foyer restaurant where I had rice, carrots, and a sad attempt at pork. After spending most of the weekend speaking English, my French is horrible, so dinner was confusing mix of Franglais.
After dinner, I decided to work on my Rapport du Stage so that I could spend some time with John tomorrow. Only problem is, we’re not really sure what’s due Thursday. So, instead I went to Eliza’s to finish some translations for my stage. In the middle of trying to find translations for very formal French, we heard a knock on the door. Zipeng!
Basically, we ended up sidetracking into Yoann’s room where we got to play with his keyboard and listen to very pretty music. In the middle of listening to Yoann play the Forest Gump theme song while I danced with Eliza, I had one of those “Oh my god, I’m in Paris” moments. I’ve realized, it’s never when I’m next to Notre Dame, at the Sorbonne, or even up in the Eiffel Tower that I feel like I’m in Paris. My Paris is hanging out with my friends late at night, my Paris is listening to mamamia played by a pan flute in the metro, my Paris is watching the strikers go home after protesting all day. The monuments are there, but they’re not what I’ll remember twenty years from now, they’re not why I came. I came for the language, and I want to stay for the experiences and the life. I may not end up traveling at all while I’m here, but I’m learning just as much as any globetrotter you can find.