Today I had my mandatory medical visit here in France. This check-up of sorts was the last hurdle to jump to get my carte de sejour. What is a carte de sejour? It's a little pieces of paper that says I can stay in France for a year. Wait..I thought that's what the visa was for that I filled out all the paperwork for and obtained months ago. No...you need to get the visa so you can apply for the carte de sejour, which I am just now getting a month and a half after already being in France. Wait I'm confused. You and me both.
So I get a letter in the mail telling me to be at the clinic at 9:30 this morning. I'm allowed to eat before-hand and all I need to bring is my passport. Lizandro and I take the bus out to the clinic, go in the wrong building, get redirected, and stumble into a tiny hallway full of offices. The woman behind the desk "greets" us. Moreso she just looks at us - that look that says - more bewildered assistant, great.
We sit in the waiting room with several other assistants. When my name gets called I leave my things and follow a woman down to the end of the hall. She asks me to remove all articles of clothing from the waist up. I look for the paper gown. Nope. I'm reminded that breasts are not the vulgar/seductive, hide-away in a paper gown body part in France. I strip down and she directs me to the x-ray and asks me to press my naked chest against the cold metal, arching my shoulders forward and holding my chin uncomfortably high. Take a deep breath. Ok, we're all done here - you can go back to the waiting room - and just like that she's out the door.
15 minutes later a man comes to get me and takes me to his office. It's not the sterile white examination room Im used to - its just an office - pictures on the wall - a metal Beatles poster resting on the bookshelf. He's a short man with a hair that clings in a ring around the lower half of his scalp, leaving the top exposed to the elements. He pulls his glasses off and lets them hang from a string, bouncing off his chest when he moves.
He takes my weight. The numbers mean nothing to me...how many kilograms in a pound? He takes my height. The telephone rings and I sit for 5 minutes as he speaks to someone about some questionable results from another patient. When he's finished on the phone he resumes as if nothing had delayed him - listening to my breath with his stephascope.
Then the real exam:
Have you been sick? No
Have you had operations? No
Do you take medication? No
Do you have your card of vaccinations? No
Ok...we're all done here. Here's your certificate and here's your chest as a memento.
With this done I headed over to the OFII (office of immigration and integration) to show off my certificate of health and get my carte de sejour. They made sure I had all the things I needed. A photo of my head (which I had just had done at the photobooth at the train station - they have these machines EVERYWHERE because you need a pictures for EVERYTHING) my passport and a letter attesting that I am in fact living at the school. She glanced at my certificate - not seemed interested.
So what did I get for jumping through all the hula hoops like a good little puppy? A pretty yellow sticker in my passport. Congratulations - here's a smiley face for the day - you can hang out for a whole year before we make you fill all these papers out again!
My lovely visa (what's the for again?) is on the bottom page and my shiny new carte de sejour is on the top page there. I bet no one will ever need to see this.
Side note. While I was at the train station getting pictures I popped into the news stand for a magazine and saw these! Crispy m&ms! Does anyone else remember these? Years ago I used to eat them and then I couldn't find them anymore. I love these guys!
Something I have noticed about European candy. They don't give a fig about shape or color here. Notice the wonky green m&m on the right there...not the perfect round disks of chocolate we are all used to. Starburst are the same - not immaculate little squares - just weird lumpy bits of candy. Not complaining though - I love crispy m&ms.