Thursday, December 11, 2008

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, and also a baguette

Chris and I decided to wake up early this morning and go to the Prefecture. I never receieved my temporary carte de sejour in the mail; only a letter saying that they didn't know why I was here or how I was affording to even be here.

We woke up before the sun came up at 6:45am (which is a big deal for us, since we like to sleep in...and by the way, did you know that the sun does not rise here in Marseille until 8am? Craziness!). We were able to walk to the Prefecture, since it's not far from where we live. Getting there early was a good thing, as there was a line already formed almost to the entryway.

We hopped in line and waited patiently for our turn. While waiting, we had 3 people jump the line in front of us. What is with that? We had two kids doing the same thing to us yesterday at a grocery market! Can't people just stand in a line like everyone else?

Anyways, we waited patiently for our turn, and bided our time with watching the other people in the room. There was a waiting area full of people, the line was getting longer and longer as we waited, and there was only 2 people working behind glass booths. Chris & I were the only white people in there...and maybe the only Americans in there.

We finally made it to one of the booths to speak to a woman working there. Chris told the woman why we were there. She was very nice, took our papers, and told us to go upstairs and wait for our names to be called.

We went upstairs and took a seat. The waiting room upstairs was larger than the one downstairs, and we didn't have to sit smooshed next to others.

We only waited a litte while before they called our names over the loudspeaker. We found the door and went in to another booth where a man was waiting for us. Chris told him our situation, and the guy looked over our papers. He asked if I had medical insurance, and Chris told him no, not yet. We were waiting for our temporary carte de sejour to have socialized medicine cover me here in France. The man told us that I needed some form of insurance. He then went around the corner to speak to someone about our situation. Meanwhile, Chris and I were trying to figure out what we would do. I could apply for travel insurance, but that would be a pain and probably expensive.

While we were debating what to do, the man came back and handed Chris a piece of paper. He told Chris to take it in the other room and write a statement saying he was in charge of me. Chris was confused and asked what he should write, in exact words. So the man walked him through writing a letter that basically said that he is in total charge of me. Then the man wanted him to write a second letter saying that I wasn't going to be working here. After that, he told us to wait outside again. We were so amazed that it only took two handwritten notes to bypass the whole insurance situation! That would have never gone over in the US! We went out in the waiting room and just had to laugh.

Then we were called back in, and the man handed us the temporary carte de sejours. That was it! Super easy, in and out in less than 1 1/2 hours!

Now, we just have to wait to be called in to get the permanent carte de sejour. Although, from what I have learned from others, that rarely happens before you leave the country. So I'm guessing, we will not get ours before we leave to go home. Which is fine by me, because that would mean we would bypass the insane, violating medical exams that we would have to get in order to get our French green cards. I'm all for skipping a chest X-ray that is not medically warranted (I don't have TB, and there is no reason for them to X-ray my chest for that!). So, we wait, and see, and as far as I'm concerned, not worry at all.

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