15 December, 2006

Applying for a Visa Sucks

I had a brilliant idea to actually simplify my life and apply for a visa. Of course this idea hit me way too late and by the time I actually had an appointment with the French consulate in Chicago it was December 8th. Then my very well prepared self didn't have anything having to do with the application finished the day before so I had to reschedule for the next week.

Luckily, Naaz was home and wanted to make a little trip out of this so we packed up the Hoopdie and headed to Chicago. This visa stuff is pretty complicated let me tell you. First of all, the application is just ridiculous. Mounds of paperwork, letters from the bank saying you aren't absolutely broke, letters from any sponsor's or people you may be staying with in France, a police clearance from your police department, a letter of employment, and then you have to get a bunch of stuff notarized....so much nonsense. And if it was just that it wouldn't be so bad, but it isn't. As of Oct 2006, you are required to apply In-Person at your local French Consulate - ours happens to be a long insanely-boring 6-hr drive away. But the drive is nothing a little Wham! won't fix right? Anyway, you have to schedule an appointment with the consulate, which must be done online because no one at the consulate actually answers the phone. You get an automated recording that eventually end in an unsatisfying dial tone. God forbid you have any questions because they won't even answer your emails...although they encourage you to email with your questions. And after you spend a whole day driving to your appointment you pay them a lousy $130.00!!! This is ONLY the processing fee and does not guarantee that you'll get your visa. Oh yeah, and did I mention it takes like 3-months to process and that they won't mail it to you...you get to come back again...YES!!! Which doesn't work for me because I'll be in France already, avec or sans a visa, I'm outta here.

So I concluded that getting a visa sucks. But lucky for you, my alternative will involve some rather elaborate travel time. In order for me to stay, I have to leave the Schengen Area (a collection of 13 EU countries that signed an agreement along for open borders between their countries...ie no elaborate border crossings; much easier) for about 5 weeks cumulative...not all at once. And since I still have some funds but they are not so plentiful as before I will be picking places like Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, or Croatia. In other words, the send log will live on still, if anyone is still reading this besides my Mom/Dad and David...which is really funny that he reads it because he lives it every day.

ok, well hope to hear from you all when I'm back across the ocean.