Interesting Immigration

Word(s) of the Day: Vraiment?  Vous voulez que je retire mon soutien-gorge aussi? (vuh-ray-mon vous vou-lay kah jah ray-tear mawn sue-tawn gore-jah aw-see) – Really?  You want me to take off my bra too?

Jenna and I had our immigration appointment today.  (The words of the day should serve as a warning for the rest of the post.  Read at your own risk.)  We both agreed that everyone should be forced to have an immigration experience in a country that doesn’t speak their maternal language just to give them a better perspective.

It’s both nerve-wrecking and incredible boring.

First, we had to make sure we had all the proper documentation and had paid the fee to get the test.  Because if there’s anything the government always needs, it’s more of your money.  I’ve already paid three separate fees for my visa.

Next we waited in the room until they called us into another room, where we waited again.  We then went to three separate doctors, one to check our eyesight, one to take an x-ray, and one to interrogate us.  In between each separate section, you wait for long periods of time.

For the x-ray, a woman puts you in a room and says (in French), “Strip. Waist up.”  Now in America, they generally give you a paper robe so you can at least pretend you have dignity.  The French don’t believe in modesty, so you just have it all out there.

It’s this way at doctor’s appointments too.  When a doctor tells you to strip in America, they give you a paper robe and leave the room.  Sometimes they give you a blanket so you can cover up even further.  France wasn’t founded by Puritans, so the doctor just stays there and tells you to strip.  In a clinical manner, of course.

Jenna and I envisioned a scene of a Frenchwoman going to a doctor in the US.

Doctor: Okay, so I need you to take off your shirt and bra.  I will leave the roo… Not yet!  Wait until I leave!  *Turning to the nurse* Can I get sued for this?

After our chest x-rays had printed, we went to the interrogation doctor.  She had my take off my shirt again.  I assume this was partially to check my heart beat, but also partially as a mind game.  She demanded complete precision in the dates of every illness I’ve ever had.  She gave me a list of vaccines to receive and said that it was completely necessary that I get them in order to have my visa.  She then said, “Except you probably can’t get them with the medicine you’re currently on… So wait until you get off all your medicine.”  Which won’t occur until I leave France.  So no vaccinations then?

It doesn’t matter.  The French gave me my visa stamp anyway.  From what I know of French bureaucracy, no one will ever realize I never confirmed that I had the vaccinations.  They also probably don’t even care.  Jenna had the wrong address and spelling of her last name on all her documentation except for her passport, and they didn’t even notice.  Well one guy did, but he said the French equivalent of “Meh, whatever.”

Sometimes I think if I were never to even get a visa, I would still be fine.  The French probably wouldn’t even know I was here.  Not that I’m recommending going against the law.

I’ve met French people who have told me they are far less racist than Americans, but I think immigration today disproves that.  As we were informed from a source (not involved in the French government), “Don’t worry about the immigration appointment.  It’s not really for you.  It’s distinctly targeting people who have never been to a doctor before; people who come from poorer backgrounds.  They’re not interested in you, but they have to have everyone go through it so that it looks equal.”

I wonder if they would have cared about Jenna’s address if she came from an Arab or African background instead of American…

Although they might not.  If you’ve never been through French customs, that’s because no one ever goes through French customs.  You have to actively search for it in the airport.  I don’t know why anyone would ever declare anything.  I’m sure the immigration officers are in shock when someone comes into their office.

“What, sir?  You want to declare something?  I’ve never had anyone declare anything before!  Um… I don’t know if that’s legal here.  Pierre!  Are people allowed to bring cabbage into the country?  You don’t know either?  Meh, who cares.  I don’t want to fill out the paperwork.  Well sir, we shall clear you and your cabbage.  Bonne journée.”

Of course, this could be different from flights not coming from the United States/ an EU country.  Maybe they just assume we’ve weeded out all the weirdos?

They’re probably right.  American customs is like a reenactment of the interrogation scenes from Law and Order.

But at least you get to keep your shirt on!  Most of the time.  I suppose strip searches make that statement void.

The government wants us all naked!  There’s your thought for the day.

Jenna and I went to Starbucks afterward.  I never go to Starbucks here, but it was an over-priced coffee kind of morning.

Pain au chocolat: still 31 (but I’m sure I earned three today… so I’m gonna go get those right now)


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