8 Weeks and Counting!

This week has been full of exciting news! I received my official letter of acceptance from the France Business School! It is assumed that I am accepted since this is an exchange program, but getting the actual letter is very exciting! I am hoping to get the full welcome package in the mail this week. It will include all of my housing and transport information as well as a guide to the school and city and lots of fun stuff like that! Since FBS doesn’t have dorms or student housing, they have agreements with local landlords that work with international students like myself. I will know more about what type of apartment I’ll be renting once I get my package this week.

Acceptance Letter

I also receive a letter from “SNCF” and being that it was in a plain envelope with no return address, thought it was junk mail. I opened it and had no idea what it said because it was in French! My first piece of French mail! I immediately remembered that SNCF is a high-speed rail that provides travel through Europe. After translating, I realized I had been awarded 50% off all of my fairs through France with the train company SNCF! How cool is that?! About 4 weeks ago I found out that I might be eligible for discounted train fares in Europe. Being a rail-pass holder for Amtrak here in the US, I requested my pass be converted into a Europass for the 6 months I’m abroad. Since Amtrak reciprocates services with  SNCF, it was approved and I received the discount! This will definitely be put to good use!

Train Ticket

Time is flying by… I can’t believe it’s already mid-November! I only have about 8 weeks left to get ready for this life-changing experience. Although I haven’t booked my flight yet, I know I will be leaving the first week in January. Orientation at FBS is January 8th so I plan to arrive the 6th or 7th. I know these next 2 months are going to fly by (especially with the holidays!) and I have a lot to do! I made an appointment with the French Embassy in Chicago on December 9th to formally apply for my visa. During this appointment, I will be surrendering my passport for approval and it will be mailed back to me after it’s processed (about a week). I need my passport for a trip that was previously planned over Thanksgiving so I have to wait until I get back to make the trip to Chicago. CampusFrance (the ‘prerequisite’ to applying for your student visa) has received all of my paperwork and it is currently being processed. I am confident that everything I need will be processed, accepted, and returned to me before I have to go to Chicago in December. Knowing that I will have everything I need to apply for my visa in plenty of time if definitely a huge weight off my shoulders! 

It has been a great week and I know the weeks to come will only get better! Loving life, embracing experience, and smiling the whole time 🙂

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The Next Step

Now that all the deadlines have passed and all of my paperwork is in, I get to sit and wait. Well, not really. There are a million things I have to do, but most of the official things are done (‘most’ being the key word!). The task on the top of my list is getting my visa. As a school requirement, I have to obtain a student visa to be able to study abroad. I figured it was just like getting a passport; go get a picture taken, pay a huge fee, receive it in the mail in a few weeks…. wrong! Getting a student visa is not that simple! I found out that before I can apply for my actual visa, I have to be accepted through CampusFrance, which is a France organization that deals with incoming international students. It verifies your status with the college in France, how long you’ll be there, what you’re studying, etc. I also need an acceptance letter from the school in France before I can do any of this. Since this is an exchange program, my acceptance into the school is assumed, but I still need the letter for CampusFrance and my visa. This puts me in a bit of a time crunch seeing as how CampusFrance takes up to 3 weeks and then the actual visa application takes 3-4 weeks. I leave in 8 weeks, so getting this done ASAP is a huge understatement! I actually had to pull some strings and my study abroad advisor at UofM was able to write me a letter instead of waiting for the acceptance letter from the France School to arrive. Once I get approval from CampusFrance, I’ll have to make a trip to the French Embassy in Chicago where it’s mandatory that you apply for the visa in person. The other option to avoid the waiting and trip to Chicago, is to do a phone interview with the French Embassy. As I’m told, it is a 20 minute phone interview to see what my intentions are while in France (kind of like the questioning you go through while crossing the border). Oh yeah… and the interview, would be in FRENCH! Seeing as how I only speak Spanch (see prior post), I have low hopes that the phone interview would be successful. Looks like I’ll be making a trip to Chicago!

After doing some research, you only need to obtain a visa if you’re travel exceeds six months. Since I am participating in an exchange program between universities, it is mandatory through my program that I get a student visa. If you ever have to get a visa for any traveling you do, don’t wait until the last minute. Get it done as soon as you can so you won’t be rushed or worried.

This blog is not only a way for my friends and family to see what I’m up to, but it’s also a great source for future study abroad students (and all-around travelers) to see what studying abroad has to offer. With that being said, I will be posting a lot of college related material to show importance.

I would like to thank Asinda G., Dr. Cavusgil, Dr. Kandogan and the Graduate Dean Study Abroad Scholarship Committee as well as the Matthew Hilton Watson Study Abroad Scholarship Committee and School of Management at UM-Flint. I have just received news that I was awarded these scholarships and could not have done it without the help of Asinda and Dr. Cavusgil. This money will make my trip much more enjoyable and allow me to do much more while abroad. Thank you everyone!

For anyone studying abroad or in college, apply for as many scholarships as you can! My advisor, Asinda, was very helpful in letting me know which scholarships I was eligible for and encouraging me to complete them. Out of the four I applied for, I just received three of them. I will find out about the fourth in December. You will never get scholarship money if you don’t take the time to complete the application so JUST DO IT! It’s definitely paid off for me! I also emailed my financial aid advisor when starting at UofM to let her know I needed as many scholarships as possible (don’t we all?!). About six weeks later, she was kind enough for forward me a link letting me know I was eligible for the Osher Scholarship which had very specific requirements- and I met all of them. The call I received informing me that I was awarded the Osher Scholarship was also the phone call that set my study abroad dream into reality. The staff at UofM has been great in helping me with my education, financial aid, and so many more things. Definitely talk to all of your advisors about scholarships, it will absolutely pay off!

To all my new followers… Merci Beaucoup! (Thank you very much)

À Bientôt! (Bye for now!)