Posts Tagged ‘rant’

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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Some years ago my friend Leonard and I were browsing through some racks at American Apparel.  Leonard is a fashion whore.  Every 2 months or so he’s talking about needing  a new suit.  Because to say that you want a new suit is less legitimate than to say you need one.  Leonard has needs, not wants.      

“I think I need a new fleece,” I thought out loud.

“Oh, right.  You wear fleece,” said Leonard.  

After this, hoping to blend in among the fashionably competent, I’ve limited wearing my fleece around town.  But seriously, dressing better than the crowd was not hard to do in a college town where sweatpants from Victoria’s Secret with UGG boots are acceptable Sunday brunch wear.  Paris, I fear, will be another story.  Isn’t it adorable how I keep deluding myself that I’ll actually be living in Paris (not 45 minutes away by train and sans time or money to actually go to Paris)?

For the past few weeks I’ve been searching for a skirt suit to wear to the tens of rounds of interviews that are a favorite pastime of any INSEAD student, and I’m going slightly nuts.  I’ve now exhausted the options of everything below $500.  From Theory (slutty) to Banana Republic (hideousness) to Sisley (awful quality).  And it’s not even that I have a weird body type or hang-ups about my body image!  I’m perfectly proportional for my height.  Unfortunately for my wallet, everything at Anthropologie was made with me in mind.   

I stopped by Barney’s outlet store to find the men’s side chock full of suits, and the women’s side full of frivolous, frilly suits for walking poodles on the Upper East Side but nothing for interviews or board meetings.  Next door, Kaspar offered hideously colorful suits for middle-aged secretaries and real estate agents in size 8 and up.  How is it that after 60 years since women entered the work force in numbers, major labels like Boss still don’t design suits for women?  Oh, right, women don’t get to play in the boardroom.  I think I wrote something about that for my scholarship applications.  Speaking of… the INSEAD scholarship selection committee is about a month late getting back with the response.  But that’s another rant.  

The other day I stopped by a store in town center where my father has bought some of his suits.  The only options for women were bespoke suits for around $1700.  The sales associate there tried shifting the attention away from his ignorance of differences between European and American styles by rebuking me for worrying about fashion and buying a suit with an expiration date of 1.5 years.  

When I tried on a model of one of the styles, he said, “that’s a great Hillary Clinton look.”  WHAT?  Now, I admire and respect Hillary Clinton, and resent the fact that the media found her pantsuits worthy of more attention than her healthcare proposals.  And I’ll be lucky to look that good in bright orange when I’m 65, but that’s like 35 years from now!  

I put on my fleece and left in a huff.

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