Preparations

Places to go, people to see, things to do!

There are A TON of places I want to go while I’m in Europe; I plan to take mad advantage of the proximity of many different countries, ease of travel, and people I know in Europe.  However, I also need to be aware that traveling costs money and I’ll be living on a limited budget, so I need to pick and choose places I go.  That being said, there are a few places I DEFINITELY want to go, and I even have some plans in the works already.

First up: PARIS!  I’m flying in and out of Paris, and when I first arrive Courtney and I are going to spend a few days there.  I’m not sure what exactly we’re going to do since we’re only going to be there a few days and will be dealing with jet lag and such, but before my time in France comes to an end I definitely want to see all the sights Paris has to offer, like…

The Eiffel Tower…

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One month update

I leave the country in one month.  31 days.  WEIRD.

I’m planning on doing a post a few days before I leave with my thoughts and emotions, because I am ALL OVER THE PLACE, but for now I figured I’d do a quick update/recap on how my preparations for leaving are going.

Plane tickets

I bought them online from STAtravel.com for $806 on July 11.  I’m flying Swiss Air out of O’Hare on September 26 and into Charles de Gaulle, Paris on September 27, with a layover in Zurich, Switzerland.  Then I’m flying back on May 23, so I’ll be gone almost exactly eight months.  My post about buying them is here.

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If you catch me at the border I’ve got visas in my name

(Song reference: M.I.A.)

If you keep up with my blog, you already read a little bit about my rough-but-still-successful visa appointment here.  However, I wrote that as soon as I got home from my visa appointment when I was still full of hating-Chicago fervor and it was more complaining about the city than talking about my actual appointment.  So without further ado, here’s the post I started before my appointment that has more detail and less spite.

One awesome thing about going to live overseas is having to get a visa.  Luckily, there is a special process for “assistants de langue” that isn’t as involved as regular work visas, but it’s still kind of a pain.  The biggest thing is that you have to go to your regional French consulate to have your visa appointment.  It’s not a big deal for me, since I live 30 miles away from Chicago, but I feel bad for some of the other people who have to travel kind of long distances.   The only French consulates are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.  So basically if you live in any of the mid-north-western states (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North or South Dakota, all of those) you’re out of luck.

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5 Reasons I Hate Chicago: The Story of My Visa Appointment

1.  Traffic getting there

My appointment was at 3:30 at the French consulate, which in the heart of downtown Chicago.  I was planning on leaving work at 2 since I only work 30 miles away from the city, but my director convinced me that I needed to leave earlier to make sure I had enough time to get there and find the place and park and such.  I was glad he did!  The interstate I took down to the city wasn’t too bad but there were a few spots where I was crawling.  And this was at 1:30 in the afternoon!  Rush hour is about a million times worse.  Once it took me two hours just to get through the city.  Not fun.

2. Driving downtown

As I got into downtown the traffic just got worse.  Adding to the tons of cars were pedestrians and crazy fearless bikers that ride in the street without helmets (why is the bike lane between two car lanes??) and one-way streets and construction and street closings for Lollapalooza.  I learned that it’s basically impossible to turn because of the pedestrians crossing the street, so that was fun.  I was also driving when someone drifted into my lane and scraped the side of my car.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t bad; my car didn’t even swerve or anything, I basically just heard it and honked.  The guy then sped off.  Classy, Chicago.  Enjoy the paint the Silver Rocket surely left on your shiny black Altima.

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The Apartment Roller Coaster: Part 2

So I found a roommate with whom I had been emailing and texting every day about apartment stuff.  We had two apartments that we were seriously looking at: apartment 1, which was the one being leased by the teacher at my school, and apartment 2, which we had gotten an email about.   Apartment 1 was a little more expensive, but in a more convenient location, and both had literally EVERYTHING furnished with them, down to dishes, pots and pans, bedsheets, etc, which was a major plus for us.

Red is apartment 1. Green is apartment 2. Blue is my school. Yellow are my roommate’s schools.

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The Apartment Roller Coaster: Part 1

It’s been quite a ride trying to figure out my living situation in France.  It’s something I’ve been worrying about since before I even got accepted into the program, because apartment hunting is hard enough in the US- I couldn’t imagine trying to do it from overseas when I don’t speak the language fluently!  A girl from my French class who did TAPIF a few years ago said that went she moved to France she stayed in a hostel for a week or so while she apartment searched, but I knew I didn’t want to do that.  I like having things planned out and not having somewhere to live in France would stress me out to the max.  Therefore, I knew I wanted to have a place locked down before I moved, the sooner the better!

I had to wait until I got my school placement before I could start searching; as I explained here, I knew I was going to be in the region of Nice, but not necessarily the city- although as you know, I actually did get placed right in the city.  I immediately started working on finding somewhere to live.  It’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs but it all has paid off now!

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Plane tickets: BOUGHT

I have a confession to make: I’ve never bought plane tickets before.  Whenever I’ve flown anywhere, either by myself or with my family, I’ve let my parents handle the situation, which means they in turn have a travel agent find and buy the tickets.  Well, I decided I didn’t want to do that this time.  I have largely been handling everything having to do with moving to France on my own with only minimal advice from my parents (mostly because I want to do things MY WAY), so I knew I wanted to buy my own plane tickets online.

However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t use the resources available to me.  I kept an eye on the Nice assistant Facebook page for information people posted about their plane tickets, and I also began doing some research online.  I found quite a few forums offering advice for those buying international plane tickets: how far in advance to buy, what days of the week to buy and to fly on, where to fly into, etc.  I decided I wanted to fly in and out of Paris because I’ve never been there before and Nice is SO far from Paris.

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I’m going to Nice!

If you follow this blog you’re probably thinking, “Didn’t she tell us she’s going to Nice back in April?”  The answer to that is, well yes, kind of.  When I got accepted into the program I found out that I was placed in the region of Nice, but not necessarily the city; I could have been anywhere in the region, up to a few hours away from the actual city of Nice.  Here is a map of the regions as divided by TAPIF:

Nice is all the way in the bottom right.

Note: my friend Courtney who is doing the same program is placed in Lille.  About as far away from me as you can get.  Ugh.

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Categories: Information, Life in France, Preparations | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Preliminary Preparations

It’s officially been three weeks since I got accepted into the program!  The first couple of weeks, I didn’t have much to do besides be relieved/excited/a variety of emotions that I finally knew what I was going to be doing with my life after graduation (and try to combat the constant comments of “You’re gonna marry a French guy!” or “Have you seen ‘Taken’?”).  However, there have been a few things I have done to start preparing for the move, and more recently the program has been contacting me for information as well.

As I mentioned before, the day the emails were sent out I was keeping  a close eye on the TAPIF Facebook page.  I found a few other people who commented that they were going to Nice as well, so I decided to search and see if someone had created a TAPIF – Nice page, and lo and behold, someone had!  I requested to join the group and  began chatting a little bit with the other people who are going to Nice.

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