21 February 2008


I try to never swear, unless the situation is really really horrible, like the day I arrived in France but my clothes didn't. My language, besides the occasional grammatical creativity resulting from all the foreign language contact, is impeccable. My favorite curse-word replacements are "nuts!" and the stronger "expletive!" Lots of opportunity to use the latter, today.

Yesterday I pulled out my passport, because I need to remember to bring it when I leave home tomorrow. Leafed through it a bit, and noticed... uh-oh... my temporary receipt thing for my residency card (récépissé de carte de séjour) expires on February 22nd. That's the day I leave for Budapest. That's a problem. The carte is what you get when the visa expires, and you need one to be legal. It won't be a problem for flying out tomorrow, but it could be a problem when I fly back in on March 2nd. "No biggie," I thought, "I'll just go to the foreigners office of the préfecture tomorrow and ask them to give me a new one or extend it or something." So that was the plan.

Fast forward to today. I headed directly over to the préfecture from class, which ended at 12:15. Got there at 12:27. And there was a sign on the door saying "Office closes at 12:15 on Thursday." This must be a new policy, since it wasn't indicated on their website. "Expletive," I said. Then I walked over to the regular préfecture, which is kind of like the secretary of state's office in a US context. The regular one does everything but deal with foreigners. I hoped that there would at least be someone there who could tell me if I'm going to have problems. However, I had a conversation something like this with the lady at the welcome desk:
Kel: "Excuse me, I have a question. I just went to the préfecture annex, but they're closed. You see, my récépissé de carte de séj..."
Lady: "Oh, we don't deal with foreigners."
Kel: "I know, I just wanted to see if you knew if..."
Lady: "No, I don't, we don't know about foreigner issues here."
Kel: "I know that this isn't where I am supposed to b..."
Lady: "No, you're supposed to be at the foreigners office."
Kel: "I know, I was just there and it's closed. But you see, I can't go tomorrow because I'm..."
Lady: "Here, I can give you a map. We can't answer your questions."
Kel: "I know, but I can't go since I'm leaving the country tomorrow." She ignored this, since she was busy shoving a map at me.
Lady: "Oh, you don't need this, you know where it is." Then she took the map back.
Kel: "Well, do you know if there's anyone I can call? The foreigners office from another department, just so that I can ask..."
Lady: "No, they won't be able to answer you either."
Kel: "Um... ok, well, thank you for your time."
[Kel leaves the préfecture]
Kel: "Expletive!"
[I hesitated calling her character lady... a real lady would be a lot more polite. However, she was wearing a large amount of eye liner, which I for some reason associate with loftiness.]

So, nothing to do about the carte de séjour. I walked to the train station, to see if there's a later (but still early enough) train to the airport tomorrow. There is, but it's only about fifteen minutes after the foreigners office supposedly opens, and I'd have to pay about thirty dollars extra. Scratch that idea. I'll just have lots of good explanations and arguments in case the passport control guy turns to the visa page of my passport when I come back. I shouldn't have any problem, since it's their fault and I did all I could, and since I'll be leaving the EU again in less than three months, so they can just pretend I'm a tourist. It'll be fine.

Back to today's adventures... next stop was the copy place, but it was closed for lunch because of the school vacations (I can't quite figure that one out) so I went to get a sandwich for lunch and stopped at H&M, where I got a new pair of pajamas. Back to the copy place, to print flight confirmations and my Truman housing contract. I had to fax that one to Missouri, and it cost a lot. Not quite an arm and a leg, like the English-speaking world would say, or the eyes of the head, like the French would say, or the skin of the buttocks, like the French would also say, but probably a fingernail or two. It cost more than seven pieces of paper and a fax should cost, anyway.

Anyway, tomorrow morning I leave Angers very early, go sit around in the airport for about six hours, fly to Budapest, and then the adventure will begin. The hostel will have wi-fi, so I'll be posting pictures and adventures as often as possible!

1 comment:

Jakob said...

Ugh. Sounds like a lot of beaurocracy to deal with! I hope everything gets sorted out ok:) And have an amazing time in Hungary with Kristen! I want to see lots of pictures!