Okie doke, this is the first of what will be many posts chronicling my study abroad experience. I am going to be studying in France for the whole year next year, and even though I’m still in the states for now, lots of stuff has happened (and continues to happen) to get me ready for studying abroad.
I am going through the UC-wide Education Abroad Program (or EAP for short), which has lots of benefits. All of my units will transfer from the classes I take, giving me credit for my major and minor. The cost of tuition is about the same as it is for in-state students (meaning you out-of-staters can get a cheaper tuition by studying abroad through EAP!). And probably the best part is that students from all of the UCs participate in the same programs. I go through the same steps as other people at school, and I’m guaranteed to meet some California kids when I get to France.
Many of the EAP programs have similar requirements (my friend is going to study in Egypt for the whole year, and she and I both had to send in similar paperwork and have our health cleared, stuff like that). I’ve done a lot of stuff to get ready (like applying, renewing my passport, and meeting with counselors) but getting my visa was especially exciting, partly because it means I’m officially going and partly because it was my last big piece of scary documentation and paperwork that I to do.
Applying for a visa is a very long process, and it varies by country. The French visa application began with an online registration through their website for foreign students wishing to study in France. The registration included loads of documentation as well as a registration fee (and not just a fee, but a money order (what the heck, I didn’t even know what a money order was before that)). At around the time that you register online, you also book an appointment with your foreign consulate to actually apply for your visa. There are only two French consulates in California – luckily I live close to San Fran (the other’s in LA). Then after booking your appointment you wait for a long time for your appointment to come. You still certainly have a lot of other stuff to get done, but in terms of preparing for the appointment, all you really need to do is fill out a few forms you get online.
I waited very patiently but finally my day came. I went up to SF with my parents (and good thing, too, as I forgot a self-addressed envelope and had to send my dad to pick one up). The actual act of applying was no big deal. Every other step along the way (especially sending in that money order (did I fill it out right?!?!)) had been super stressful, but I had been through stuff like this before, and I had all of my papers. I got my visa in the mail just three days after – pretty quick!
So now I am officially cleared to go to France as student, yippee! Stay tuned for more info on study abroad and EAP!