Jumping Through Hoops… to get to France

There is an unimaginable amount of paperwork that one must fill out in order to study abroad.

I have had to fill out application packets (20+ pages) for Western, Towson (the school I must go through*), the Institute for American Universities, and now, the country of France. By the way, all of these have application/enrollment fees in the range of $60-250.

France requires students to apply to CampusFrance (a registry of all students?) which costs me $70 in the form of a MONEY ORDER. Who does that? Plus one month of processing. Then, and this is the most difficult one, in order for me to get a visa I must fly to San Francisco. San Francisco is the only French consulate serving the West Coast that can issue visas. There is one in Vancouver, too. But unfortunately, I am not a Canadian citizen. So I have to fly to SanFran and have a twenty minute meeting in which the consulate will take my fingerprints (this can’t be contracted out to other agencies?). I then have to stay there until the next day, when they will give me my actual visa (they can’t mail it). WTF.

So, looking forward to that…

Yesterday I got my official acceptance packet from IAU which means I can actually begin applying to CampusFrance/visa and buying flight tickets (NOTE: I have to have a roundtrip ticket bought before I can apply for my visa – too bad I don’t know when I’m coming back).

The point I’m trying to make is this: THERE IS TOO MUCH PAPERWORK. I would imagine that for students who aren’t super crazy about traveling, like me, this process is way too difficult and they opt not to study abroad. That is too bad. The good news: Once I actually get there, I’m sure I will be so happy that all the paperwork will not have even mattered.

*Because Western won’t accept a transcript directly from the Institute for American Universities (UW will, apparently it’s based on size of school) I have to apply through another college so that my transcript comes back as a Towson transcript instead.

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