If I could harness my imagination for all the possible things that could go wrong and turn it into something constructive I could write fiction and probably make a mint.
I’m not typically prone to worry but I had so much riding on this that my mind went into overdrive. Did I have all the paperwork (even though I’d triple checked), was the fact that I was renting, instead of staying at my home address that I’d given, going to be a problem, would I get from one appointment to the other on time, did I get on the wrong train (my ticket had no seat assignment but the train required reservations – but then it’s a small station with only one train in that direction at that time – worry defies logic) … ???
Since I’m an American I require a Visa de Long Séjour, a long stay visa, to stay in France more than three consecutive months. The visa process is twofold: first I had to complete paperwork in the US providing documentation of identity, proof of health insurance, proof I had a place to live, and proof of financial means during my entire stay; then I had to notify the French authorities of my arrival and later provide further paperwork and pass a physical in France.
Completing my long stay visa was critical to all the plans I’d made. I had not only given up my apartment but I had sold or donated all my furniture and most of my household goods and sold my car. So I was fully committed to staying in France for at least a year.
All my worries were pointless (as worry tends to be). I didn’t over sleep, the taxi was on time and so was the train.
Due to the train schedule I knew I had to wait in Limoges a while before my doctor’s appointment so I decided to wait at the clinique. I checked in and told them I was very early (1 hour) but that wasn’t a problem and the doctor saw me a half hour early.
When they called me I was directed to a dressing room. I understood that I needed to undress but I didn’t understand the rest of what he said. I didn’t see an exam gown so I waited for someone to bring one. The doctor opened to back door to the dressing room, gave me an odd look and said in English “Take off your cloth; include the bra.” In France you don’t use a gown. You just take off your upper clothes and walk up to the machine for the x-ray. It’s just you the doctor & the x-ray machine in a private room. No false modesty here.
The OFII (immigration office) is across town from the clinique and I had worried about getting there on time after my exam. When I walked out of the clinique I found an available taxi and headed for the office. (I had previously been worried about having to call a cab and wait for its arrival.) I made it in plenty of time and everything went smoothly with the paperwork.
I can’t tell you what a relief it was to get the second stamp in my passport!
So now I’m legal until next June. To stay another year I will need to start processing the paperwork here in April. Hopefully by that time I will have several things taken care of with my house and have a better handle on things in general – including my imagination.