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Pardon my French (see what I did there?!), but THIS BITCH IS LEGAL! I officially have my OFII (Office of Immigration and Integration—the French love their acronyms) stamp, meaning that if I desire to travel outside the Schengen Zone, I can do so without fear of being forever trapped there. When I lived in Strasbourg, getting my temporary residency involved five hours of interrogation in a cold room, 250 Euros and some phone calls back and forth to the school coordinator. In Argentina, I had to pay a small fee in precious USD and skip a two-hour line of people in order to obtain a white piece of paper that would have been very easy to replicate on my own. In Troyes, the residency process ended up being a bit more scattered than either of my two previous experiences because, according to the teachers at my school, it’s the first year the process is being done entirely in the city (previous assistants had to take a day trip to Reims to get it done.) Rather than spending five hours in one office, as I did in Strasbourg and would have done in Reims, I was assigned a scavenger hunt around the city to fulfill all the requirements for the timbre (stamp that is inserted into passport dictating that I cannot be trapped in London or Morocco.) Tuesday morning, I went to the radiology center to get a tuberculosis test, taught some classes in the afternoon and then went to the hospital to get a general medical examination. Today, Wednesday, my roommate and I headed to the University of Technology to hand in proof of the two medical visits, and a very kind woman looked briefly at our papers, smiled, and inserted our timbres. We were free and legal to go on with our day.

Of course, the whole process could not go without hiccup—that would not be a proper experience with living abroad. It all took a dark turn during the last step, our appointment at the UTT (University of Technology de Troyes—more acronyms.)  My roommate and I decided to leave a bit early for the appointment, even though the university is right next to the high school where I teach, just in case we were able to get the paperwork done in advance. This ended up being a wise decision, as it took us over an hour to find the building where the makeshift OFII office was housed. Because I was wearing my Fitbit (anyone who has ever worked with me knows that Fitbits are very useful devices when tracking pretty useless information like steps taken during the hunt for a makeshift OFII office), I know that we walked approximately 5,000 steps in search of our destination. As it turns out, the university is much bigger than it appears from the road, and because OFII is not a permanent installation there, no one knows exactly where it is. Finally, when we were already ten minutes late to the appointment, I noticed a guy carrying an envelope that looked like the same one in which my tuberculosis x-ray was given to me the previous day, and I chased him down in order to ask if he was coming from his OFII appointment. Said fellow-free-of-tuberculosis-and-seeking-French-residency, who ended up being from Cameroon and thus spoke excellent French, managed to point me in the right direction (and give me his phone number. Classic. But his French could be useful.)  By the time we were done with our adventure, Alexandra and I were pretty hungry. Crepes and cider seemed like the perfect way to celebrate French residency, so we stopped on the way home for a long lunch, and then had café with a friend a few hours later. Typical to my days in France, I don’t really know where this one went, as I completed relatively few productive tasks (or, just one quite largely productive one.) And so, here I am, legal in France, at another dark night where the only thing left to do is settle down with a glass of wine and a good book. Too bad my residency expires in July; I could get used to this…

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