Confession: la vie française isn't always all it's cracked up to be.
Sometimes it is, and those are the Instagram-worthy moments, when I feel like I'm living in a movie or a dream.
But lately? Behind the pictures of patisseries and tennis opens are four-hour lines at the préfecture (French government building where you go for administrative stuff like visas, driving permits, etc.) and FOUR MONTHS of waiting for a new visa. I guess all those croissants and charming old buildings come at a price.
Speaking of French stereotypes, besides the world's best baguettes and wine, l'administration Française ranks high on the list of ones that are actually true.
My first few weeks in Lyon were a real-life crash course in preparing French dossiers, or files, for everything from a bank account to an apartment. I even remember going to the metro transit office where the lady almost wouldn’t give me my metro card because my student certificate didn’t look “official” enough.
Now, nearly two years later, I’m running all over town with copies (and the originals) of my birth certificate, passport, medical records, you name it. I don’t even question it anymore, it just seems normal. C'est normale. You want to see a justificatif de domicile (proof of address)? I’ve got a signed lease, electric bill, gas bill, etc. on me at all times.
I could honestly write an entire book just on the visa process alone. Never before have I experienced so many ups and downs, feeling like things are moving forward one minute, only to realize the next that there’s something else blocking my way.
Living in France has taught me to slow down. You can never be in a hurry here. Whether you’re grocery shopping, going to the post office or changing your visa status, you have to just accept that it’s going to take a long, long time. Still, I never imagined when I submitted my file on February 27 that I would still be dealing with administrative formalities in the middle of June. Never before have I felt so powerless against things outside my control or understanding. I now fully understand why one of the mostly commonly used expressions here is "c'est compliqué." It's complicated.
Bon bref, on a brighter note, in the midst of all the visa drama, I moved to Paris! That’s right. I traded my little studio in Lyon for a *slightly bigger* apartment in the capital. I still can't believe it!
Let’s just say it involved two TGV aller-retours, four suitcases, and a few tears. But I made it! I'm finally here and the visa situation is (mostly) resolved. That’s right, my four-month “vacation” is finally coming to an end.
Okay, Paris apartment tour time! Here are a few snaps of my new place:
It's still coming together but it's already starting to feel like home. Now that I’m somewhat settled, I hope to post more often. On verra...
À bientôt, mes amis.