Tag Archives: visa

Departure in 7 Days


Since I’m leaving in exactly one week, I was very happy to get my passport back over the weekend…. with a year long visa inside!  It’s such a relief to finally have it in my hands and not have to worry about that small detail.  Now I need to see about getting an Illinois driver’s license, even though I’m not a resident, so that I can exchange it for a French one.  France and Missouri don’t have an exchange deal, so if I can’t procure an Illinois license I’ll have to go to auto-école over there.  I am going to be positive and believe that luck will be on my side at the DMV, what do you think?

It’s worth noting that I’m the only one leaving in 7 days, and that’s because I have a job that will begin on June 25 in Montpellier.  My husband and kids will follow on July 3, and the container won’t leave St. Louis until June 21.

We’re still not sure about the apartment in Béziers.  My sister-in-law has been so sweet, going around to lots of different apartments to check them out for us.  She says that the problem with the first one she saw (the one from my previous post) is that a few of the rooms are really ugly, meaning that they are in desperate need of repainting.  The other bad thing is that it’s huge and it will cost a fortune to heat it in the winter.  I did find out that it has 13 foot ceilings and it’s 167 square meters (1800 square feet)!  I really love the idea of having that much space.  I’d be so happy to have both an office and a guest bedroom.  I keep going back to the fact that it’s in a good neighborhood and there are no agency fees or deposits to pay.  Also, they just went down on the rent by 100 €.    Anyway, I’ll be able to go and visit it myself next week to see what I think.

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I take that back. Long-stay visa… no check.


UnknownWow, two posts in just one day, this must be juicy!  Only four short hours ago I was sitting at a Starbuck’s (don’t hate) wondering why I hadn’t brought my jacket with me to Chicago, with a big smile on my face in honor of La Journée de la Joie.

While waiting for my 5:15 train back to St. Louis, I received a phone call from the lovely lady at the consulate who helped me so much to locate all of the documents that I need for my long-stay visa.  She called to tell me that, unfortunately, my passport will expire NEXT April (2014).  The problem is that the visa I need is valid for one year.  See the problem?  My American passport absolutely must be valid for one full year from the time that visa is validated, which will be June 18 when I arrive in France.

My first reaction?  “Darn it.”  I meant it, and that’s a strong reaction from me.  I don’t curse, but “darn it” is a pretty close euphemism to what I really wanted to say.  I’d just come all the way to Chicago, spent the night in a hotel (spending money that could have been better spent on a wonderful dinner in Carcassonne, for example), gone through all of that just to have this one little stress completely off of my  plate.  And here it’s been regurgitated, right back onto my plate.  But I have to remember that if I were in France right now, it would be National Joy Day!!  So I’m taking my husband’s advice, “Jenn-ee-fère, zen!!!”  Ok.  I’m zen.  No really, I am.  I’m on the Amtrak, the “high-speed” Amtrak with free WiFi, and they have a bar.

I called the National Passport Service to see what could be done.  It seems that the expedite process to receive a new passport takes 2-3 weeks if done by mail.  If I get an appointment at the regional office in Chicago and go back there to get it, it can be done in a day.  I think that’s what I’m going to have to do, because I’m leaving for France on June 17, and the visa could take up to 21 days to receive.  I know from last year, when I did the same exact thing, that I got it back in one week.  Zen.  I’ll get an appointment to get an expedited passport, and once I have it I will hand deliver it to the French Consulate.  Zen. Then I’ll certainly receive it by mail before my departure on the 17th.  Zen.

I don’t want to do the trip alone again.  I’m going to have to find a friend to come along.  Then there’s the problem of work.  How can I take off another day when there’s only one week of school left?  Can’t miss Wednesday afternoon, though.  My colleagues in the Foreign Language Office are taking me out to a French restaurant for lunch.  Happy Joy Day!!

Long-Stay Visa… Check!


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Last night I decided to take the train from St. Louis to Chicago rather than drive or fly.  The last time I took the train in the US was again from St. Louis to Chicago to apply for a long-stay visa at the French Consulate in Chicago, but that was 15 years ago.  Things have changed, and for the better!  The Amtrak trains still aren’t fast, but this one was clean and believe it or not the passengers were well-behaved!

I made it to Chicago at 11:00 and twelve hours later I was at the consulate turning in all of my documents to obtain a long-stay visa that will permit me to live and work legally in France for a year while taking the steps to gain French nationality.  It went very well, and I’ll have my passport back in time to travel to France on June 17.  I’m relieved to know that I can check that off of my list.

They don’t call Chicago the Windy City for nothing.  It’s pretty windy and cold out there, and I forgot to bring a jacket.  I guess I thought my thoughts were focused on the Mediterranean.

Tying up the loose ends before moving to France


images-3With our departure date only a month and four days away, it’s time to go to Chicago to get (another) long-stay visa that will allow me to live and work in France for a year.  During the first year, I plan to apply for French citizenship.  This time last year I went to Chicago for the same exact visa.  Turns out I didn’t need it after all, but I said it last year, and I’ll say it again.  French bureaucracy  may have a reputation for making official procedures as difficult as possible, but the people who work at the French Consulate in Chicago are really, really helpful.  I do think that it helps that I write all of my emails to them in French.  Perhaps if I were writing them in English I wouldn’t make such a good impression, and they may be less willing to take the time to help me.  They literally located all of the documents I will need for my visa.  I just have to show up with my passport, a few photos, and an envelope for them to send my passport with the visa inside back to me.

This time last year, we had big plans to move to France.  We were hoping to sell our house quickly and move to France during the summer.  As it turns out, our house didn’t sell until October, so back in August we made the decision to spend another year in St. Louis.  Life doesn’t always work out the way we would have hoped, but in retrospect, having this extra year to get our affairs in order has been very advantageous for us.  It’s given us more time to think about what the next step will be, and I’m not just talking about where we will live.

For example, I’ve been spending a LOT of time trying to get my online language school website up and running, and hopefully it will take off during the first year.  I’m also working a lot on a second blog, Learn French With Jennifer and recording French language videos for my YouTube channel.  This is so much fun, it’s truly exhilarating!  I never knew how great it would feel to create something of my own.  Have any of you created Internet based businesses?  I’d love to hear about it if you have, because I only have one and a half more weeks left of working as a high school French teacher.  I also need to come up with a name for my French & English language school, so feel free to share if you have any ideas 🙂