Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mini-Update: Documents and Dilemmas

Things are progressing. The Great International Move of 2011 still feels very far away (in actuality, we're down to about two and a half months), but here are some developments:

* I have a visa appointment at the consulate in D.C. next month. I am already paranoid about being late, and it requires an absurd number of documents—not just the obvious things like my work papers and my passport, but also, for example, proof of address. Let's recall for a moment that I am a nomadic recent grad (as are many many many of my thousands of fellow teaching assistants, making this all the more absurd). My permanent address (which is not where I currently reside, complicating matters even further), and the one listed on my driver's license, is my parents' address (or one of them, as they are in the process of moving, but let's not even get into that difficulty right now). Is my driver's license valid proof of address? Nope. Is a bank statement or a tuition bill or SOMETHING among the very few things actually in my name that gets sent to that address? Nope. Voter registration card? Nope. My packet of paperwork FROM THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT was actually sent to a different address, but would it work even in theory? NOPE. Has to be a rent bill or a utility bill (from a very specific list of utilities, mind you). I do not even have those things in my name for the place I'm currently living, let alone my parents' house. A quick search of the TAPIF forums revealed a convoluted solution: take proof of address in a parent's name, plus a copy of their driver's license to prove who they are, plus a copy of my birth certificate to prove they're my parent. All of this... and when I go to the appointment they might not even ask for proof of my address at all. The bureaucracy nightmare is already well underway and I'm not even in France yet. And let's not even talk about how I [might] need to be able to prove where I live solely so that they can give me a piece of paper whose entire reason for existing is to allow me to move somewhere else.

* Speaking of the moving somewhere else, I have also been in touch with both the head English teacher at the school where I've been assigned and the girl who had this assistant position last year, and among other things have learned that *dun dun dun* my school does provide housing for me! Remember how I mentioned that that was less likely because of the urban location? I subsequently discovered that it's a boarding school and got slightly optimistic again—apparently with good cause. There are still some significant cons: It's a single tiny room, a fifth-floor walk-up, and shares a "prison-like" (according to the former assistant, who didn't actually live there and encouraged me not to, either...) shower and toilet with three other rooms. While it has, at least, a stove and possibly a microwave, no one has mentioned a refrigerator, which I'm not sure I can realistically live without for a whole school year, and while I could theoretically buy a mini-fridge, there's still the issue of getting it up six flights of stairs. I would also be at a distinct disadvantage in meeting/interacting with other people due to the lack of French flatmates (or any flatmates, for that matter). But... 0% of my salary would be going towards rent, effectively eliminating financial restrictions on my weekend/vacation activities. So I'm torn. I'd be stupid not to give it a shot, but I'm afraid once I get there it will seem stupid to live there for seven or eight months when there are better options, albeit not free ones. I guess I'll just have to see.