Tag Archives: immigration

Test Day

Last week, in the wee hours of the morning, I headed off to the train station to make my way to Clermont-Ferrand, where l’Office français d’immigration et integration, aka the OFII, had ordained that I and a couple hundred other immigrants to this fine country should take our test of the French language.  It was still dark outside as I half-walked, half-ran to the station – and not because I was late, but because it was so freaking cold.  The streets were bare save for one truck shooting salt out onto the pavement and another picking up garbage.  Just me and the streetlights and that most silent part of the day, before the world has kicked into gear.  Then – at volume:


Criminey.  I nearly peed myself.  It was M, a former classmate – Ukranian – making her way the same direction.  We did that penguiney power-shuffle together the rest of the way, not talking much as our faces were buried in our scarves.  At the door of the station was M2 – Romanian – and Y – Chinese, the former waiting for M and the latter for me, both of them standing with hands shoved deeply in pockets and chins tucked deeply in scarves.  It was not warm.

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A contradiction, sort of…

Remember that time when I was all like, “Yeah – you have to give to get, the more you put out the more you bring in, blah-freaking-blah-blah”? OK – most of the time, that’s true.  But I think I’ve found my first exception.

Last weekend I had to attend an obligatory course on la vie en France – a full day learning about how the health system works, buying or renting a home, getting French citizenship, and getting a job.  That last bit was particularly interesting.  I learned that if a person has a degree, or a whole bunch of paid or voluntary experience in a particular field, France will often honor that background by giving said person a French equivalent degree or qualification, thereby making it much easier for employers to find an immigrant appropriately qualified for a post.

Excellent, I thought.  Sign me up!

So I made an appointment with the lady who handles that for our region.  At first I thought Chris would definitely need to go with me, but after speaking with her over the phone, I decided I could hack it alone…she was nice, spoke slowly, and obviously was accustomed to dealing with foreigners like yours truly, so we’d be OK.

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