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Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

P3 is done – we’re 3/5 of the periods through the (cheat-sheet propelled, for some) MBA and half way done with our year together. I snuck away from the Grand Cafe before the tearful good-byes because I’m not very good at those. A lot of people got last minute jobs – a lot are taking unpaid internships, hoping to make a career switch. Some are working 100 hour weeks in London. Suckers. The rest are sailing in Croatia/trekking in Kashmir/partying in Beirut/studying French in Nice, Mandarin in China, German in Munich/getting married in India and Israel.

One of my friends keeps saying that leaving the bubble for the summer will be a reality check – a real-world reminder to most of us who we are, what’s important to us, what we want to get out of the remaining year. I hope that’s true. P3 has been a blast, but I need to find some time to have a good think about what happens afterwards.

Since I’m still in visa limbo, I’ve been hanging out in Fontainebleau awaiting a verdict from the UK Border Agency. This respite from the frantic, intense, unrelenting P3 has been quite welcome, though I imagine it could get boring eventually. In the meantime I’ve been learning how to Artfully Communicate (I’m just as awkward as I suspected, now I have video footage to prove it), making a half-hearted attempt at some bouldering, picnicing by the reflecting pool of the Cheateau, wandering around sleepy French towns where in the 1800s Romantic Realists painted en plein air, seeking to capture the matte late evening light over the tranquil Loing.

At 10:45 it’s still light out – the days last forever, and on most nights I don’t even start to think of getting to bed until around 2. Not so good when you have class the next day. Perfect when you can sleep in until noon.

I’ve been cramming in q-time with my favorite(st) people before we disperse for the summer, and am thankful for the visa delays that are giving me a chance to get to know some of my classmates better. (That’s another shout out, yo.)

But being in Fonty also means that I can’t get the distance I feel I need to sum up the last 6 months in a meaningful manner.

A friend from home came to visit recently. When I say “friend” I mean it in the loosest sense of the word – someone I had classes with in undergrad, and would see about twice a year when visiting my parents who lived in the same town where he worked after graduation. He had been traveling the world for the past few months, and came to France (I suspect) because he’d have a free place to stay. Moocher. There are very few people I would feel comfortable crashing with for a few night, let alone an entire week. Someone more socially skilled and perceptive (or perhaps simply less selfish) would be self-conscious, but he has no compunction about imposing for an entire week. His world travels have produced little else other than a slew of complaints about lack of infrastructure in the developing world (umm, what did you expect?) and shallow generalizations about how the US is different from Europe because you don’t have to add tip and tax.

This guy is a complete downer, which makes me wonder what our friendship was based on some 8 years ago. Was I also like him? Did I look at the most negative aspect of every situation, complain about every trivial inconvenience? Is it just recently that I’ve changed so much?

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Let me preface this [rant] by saying that plenty of my ex-pat friends from China and India have given me absolutely no sympathy on this.  When I complain about Campus France, they roll their eyes and ask, “do you have any idea what it took to get into the US?”  

I’m at the moment on a bus that has internet.  Now, we may not have high speed rail in America, our bridges may be on the verge of collapse, our 60-year old crumbling interstate highways may be over capacity with all our 12mpg SUVs, but we have buses with internet.  That’s 21st century.  Take that, Europe!

I’m taking this bus to visit some dear friends but also to attempt to defraud the French visa process by applying at a less meticulous consulate than the one in my current city.  When applying for the Visa, it’s not enough that you have to fill out multiple applications, notarize statements that your parents will support to the tune of $600 per month (what does 400 EUR/month get you these days?  a baguette?), plus provide their bank statement, take copies of your college diploma in addition to copies of your INSEAD admission letter (that one, with the typo about the tuition amount).  Blah blah blah…

You also have to register with a delightful organization called Campus France.  They help you pick out a program to attend!  

That’s great, you say, but I already have a program to attend.  

Oh, in that case, we’ll just take your money.  In fact, we’ll double the amount.  

As far as I can tell, Campus France is geared toward high school and college kids who are going on a year abroad.  This organization asks you to list all of your grades (since high school), list your awards and write essays about why you want to study abroad in France.  It wouldn’t be quite so painful, if the forms you had to fill out didn’t require another 5 page document just to decipher it and all the error messages didn’t come up in French.  “Next click on icon of pencil,”  then “click on paperclip”  Do you remember what internet used to be like back in the days when we had all-numeric addresses? 104621.1250@compuserve.com?  Well, that form may have been created by the same genius designers writing code for Compuserve.  And the best part, is that after you write essays about your future aspirations in a sort of omniscient future tense, you get to send Campus France a money order for $120 and wait two weeks to get a response.  A money order?  I thought money orders were for people who bought things on late-night QVC.  

It’s not the expense of it.  When spending 50K EUR on tuition, I’m not really worried about $120 for Campus France here, $700 for medical insurance there, some $2K for business attire and accessories.  The fee is small change.   It’s the principle of it all – an organization created with no other purpose than to take money without providing a single service.

I’m done ranting.  All better now.

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