Hi, y’all! My name is Beth, and this blog will offer readers some insight into my life as I participate in a study abroad program in Aix-en-Provence, France. However, I have not yet commenced my travels, which begin today (September 7). In my “first” post, I decided that it would be beneficial to lay out my pre-departure feelings, and my experience with CampusFrance and The Consulat Général de France.

First, I have created a list of my pre-departure feelings/emotions. I am:

 1. Excited!
I am completely stoked about studying in a foreign country, and even more thrilled to be living
there for a little over 3 months! I am excited to integrate myself into French
culture. It will be a fantastic experience and I will probably feel a
rollercoaster of emotions throughout my stay. I can’t wait to see
Aix-en-Provence and everything that defines the city (i.e. fountains and
lavender). I am also excited to learn new things about Aix-en-Provence, French
culture, and French language. 

2. Hopeful!
I am hopeful that I will have “the time of my life!” I hope to be able to experience more of
France than I did during my previous visit. I intend to try new things, make new
friends (keep in touch with my friends back home, too), go on interesting and
exciting adventures throughout France, immerse myself in French culture, and
study the French language … a lot. I am also hopeful that I will gain confidence
in speaking French.

3. Nervous!
As excited and hopeful I am, I am equally as nervous. I am nervous about embarrassing myself
and looking like a fool in front of everyone. After all, my French is not very
good. But, hey, embarrassing oneself is actually a part of the study abroad
experience that every student partakes in, n’est-ce pas (right)? If I want to
embrace this experience whole heartedly, then I’m bound to embarrass myself at
some point. I am also nervous about missing my flight (departure & return).
I’m not a millionaire, so I’d rather not have to spend a lot of extra money on a
new flight just because I missed the one I already purchased. 

4. Scared!
First of all, I am terrified of being robbed, kidnapped or worse!
But that’s a typical thing for a woman to fear when traveling anywhere,
so I don’t consider this too much of a burden as long as I use common sense.
Though, the list of suggested safety precautions on IAU’s website sure seems a
bit intimidating. Secondly, I am quite scared about traveling somewhere without
anyone I personally know. When friends and family ask how I feel about studying
abroad without my boyfriend (of 7 years) or any of my close friends, I tend to
play it“cool,” and mention Skype and the possibility of taking my phone with me,
but in the end, none of these resources will be the same as a face-to-face
conversation. I think I will be fine since I keep telling myself, “it’s only 3
months, not like it’s a whole year…” Plus, feeling a bit of homesickness is a
part of the study abroad experience. If I don’t experience at least a little
bit of homesickness, then I would be worried about the “closeness” of my
current relationships. I’m sure I’ll miss everyone and as a result I expect I
will use Skype’s video chatting (since it’s free) throughout my time abroad.

Second, an explanation of my experience with CampusFrance and The
Consulat Général de France is in order. I had to register for a student visa on
CampusFrance, and make a trip to the French embassy. Registering on CampusFrance
was relatively easy; however, it took about 2 hours! There was a ton of
information to complete such as name, address, school information, and an upload
or manually entered university transcripts. After registering on CampusFrance, I
had to mail a money order of $77 before I could make the trip to the French
embassy. It’s a good idea to get tracking confirmation on that money order just
in case it gets lost in the mail or stolen. Thankfully, mine arrived without any
problems. Before scheduling an appointment with the French embassy, it is
necessary to receive confirmation of payment through CampusFrance. After
receiving the confirmation messages on CampusFrance (you have to print them out
and take them with you to the visa appointment), I scheduled an appointment with
the French embassy, as walk-ins are not allowed. I had no idea what to expect. I
found that the French consulate was extremely clean and well-organized. Also, I
didn’t need to check in; an employee called my name at the time I was scheduled. 
Here is a list of things I needed for the visa appointment: 

1. Confirmation of payment messages from CampusFrance.
2. A copy of the “Attestation,” IAU’s acceptance letter.
3. A copy of immunization records (I got these from my physician).
4. A copy of the medical document form. This is a form that I received from my home institution that I
had my doctor complete during my yearly physical.
5. A printout of the visa appointment.
6. My passport and my driver’s license.
7. A form of payment (either a money order or visa card). 
8. A USPS Express mail envelope addressed to yourself (they are very specific on the type of envelope). 

One notable thing: the employee kept my passport. At first, I was confused as to why she kept my passport, but I noticed that she kept everyone’s passport. I assumed that I would get it back in the envelope I gave her, and that was the case. It turns out that the temporary visa is a sticker placed on one of the visa pages inside the passport. Since  receiving the sticker, I’ve purchased airfare and have been imagining what  living in France will be like. I guess we shall wait and see! I can hardly wait!!!

Linda Brown
9/8/2012 03:53:13 am

very nice... I'm glad you made it so we will know what your thinking about all the way over there....in France....I'm sure you're going to do just great {not fine}...Ahave a wonderful time , study,site see and just have the time of your live... Love and miss you lots, Mom & Dad


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