03 December 2009

Officially legal to work in France!

I forgot to mention that as of Thanksgiving day, I'm officially legal to work in France!   Nearly two months after sending my paperwork to the OFII (Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration), I was finally summoned for my medical appointment and validation of my visa.

The American assistants from Nancy and Metz were herded from one waiting room to another for our respective chest x-rays, eye exams, and medical exams, before having a new visa affixed to our passports, which will serve as our residence permit throughout our sejour in France.  

Admittedly, my puritan American roots made me quite uncomfortable for the chest x-ray, when I was ushered into a closet and told to completely disrobe from the waist up.  No paper gowns here in France! Moments later,  a door on the other side of the closet sprang open, which opened into a larger room where I was asked to flatten myself against a machine for the chest x-ray... It was bizarre to stroll around topless, but I sucked it up and strolled in with a cheerful, collected "Bonjour!" and proceeded to make small talk with the X-ray technician. Mercifully, the technician was a she, and the whole process lasted less than five minutes.

I struggled in the eye exam.  My right eye is perfect, but my left eye is significantly weaker. After a certain level on the obligatory eye chart, I was having trouble seeing the letters with my left eye.  "O?" I guessed.  "Non." replied the unpleasant woman administering the test.  Her pointer remained on the letter.  "D?" I ventured.  "Non." she replied curtly.  "C?" I tried.  "Non."  I explained to her that I simply couldn't see the letters.  At this she appeared exasperated, and went on to a higher level or letters, which I also could not see. I again tried to explain that I couldn't see and for all I knew the letters could be hieroglyphics. She didn't laugh, but scribbled a note on her clipboard.  I was hoping it didn't say "Send the unfunny, blind American back home." Finally, during the medical exam, the doctor told me it would be wise to see an eye specialist, but otherwise, I was in perfect health.  

I will wait until after the holiday chaos for the eye exam, but I have noticed some rather irresistible Chanel eyewear in Metz, and dare to wonder if my French health care would provide it.  I have heard of French national health care covering spa visits, acupuncture, and skin treatments, so why not?  If one has to suffer the inconvenience of glasses, shouldn't it be done in style? I am in France after all, legally!

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