Even though I am in possession of a French long-stay worker visa, as part of the procedure of residing in France for a period past 3 months, all English teaching assistants who come from outside of the European Union have to pass through the Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration, aka the OFII, to have their stay officially approved. (If you expect me to type out that mouthful of a French organization's name every time I mention it, then you are dead wrong.)
This means that I had to deal with a slew of French paperwork and passport-sized photos once again.
I am no stranger to the OFII. I went through the same process last year and I had to do it yet again. Essentially, I needed to undergo a medical examination to prove that I was in good health and to keep me trapped in France until I got clearance in the form of a yellow sticker that gets pasted in my passport.
Just like last year, there were quite a few assistants who had their own rendez-vous scheduled for the same day and time as my appointment. From what I experienced, the moment consisted of much waiting.
Eventually, my 3 hour wait came to an end when the nurse announced it was my turn to be processed. She asked me a few health-related questions and told me to stand on the scale. I was a bit surprised that the scale in her office was not the nice, large expensive scale that has the dials that slide back and forth but just a regular bathroom scale. "This cannot possibly work well," I thought. On top of that, I had weighed myself earlier that morning to see that I had only lost 17.4 kilos (38.7 pounds). I removed my shoes and stood my ground.
I blinked. I couldn't believe it.
The scale said that I had lost 20 KILOS.
How is it possible that I was suddenly 2.5 kilos lighter? Something must be wrong with the scale...
I mounted off the contraption then back on to see if I saw a difference. 20 kilos.
Perhaps my scale was off? Perhaps I really did lose 20 kilos?
How much is 20 kilos in pounds anyway?
I'VE LOST 44 POUNDS! ZOMG!
At that moment, nothing could possibly deflate my moment of glory. NOTHING.
The second step in the medical examination was the chest X-rays. I needed to be checked for tuberculosis, and that meant going topless for the procedure. Oh, and I was wearing a dress that day. Yaaaaaaay...
I stripped off my dress and stood in nothing but my panties. I walked into the ominous machine and pressed my upper body against a frigid surface. The nurse told me to inhale deeply and to hold my breath. Then it was over.
I don't have tuberculosis! And I am now the proud owner of a cumbersome chest X-rays that won't fit anywhere in my room! Success!
I finally made it to the third stage and found myself face-to-face with the OFII doctor who shall refer to as Dr. Tuejoie (kill joy). Dr. Tuejoie, a typical petite Française who was as thin as a rake and looked as if she had never had to in her entire life struggle with her weight at all, looked at the stats the infermière had written down and asked me the regular doctor's visit questions: if I was taking any medications, if I had any allergies, if I practiced protected sex, etc. She also inquired if I was married. I said no. She looked confused.
Based on the document in front of her, my surname, thus the maiden name, had been listed as my married name. "Oh, there's a mistake," she announced as she calmly passed a strip of white out on the offending lie. For a brief moment, I experienced a slight twinge of panic. From what I remembered from my medical examination last year, the yellow sticker comes all the way from Paris. The OFII in Dijon doesn't print it out if not it is shipped from Paris. If there is a mistake like, say, a misspelling of a name, an incorrect digit of an address or even a difference about one's marital status, then I would have to wait another two weeks to have a corrected sticker arrive from the capital city. If that were to happen, it honestly would not be that big of a deal, but it would mean that I would have to YET AGAIN spend more time just waiting for something to be resolved.