For the first time ever, in a year, I need to be prepared to live in another country for a minimum of 2 years. I chose that amount of time because I want to give myself enough time to improve my fluency in French and to really immerse myself in the culture. For travelling experts, this stuff is small potatoes. For novices like me, this could be a good starting point for your own preparation.
When moving to another country, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Where am I going to live? What will I do about money? What kind of visa will I need? What will I bring? How will I make friends? How will I get around? Where will I go and what will I do while I’m there? What will I leave behind? What do I do with my car back home? What will I do with my cats Honoré and Marcel? What will I do for health insurance? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered before I’m ready to move to France.
For travelers looking to become expatriates in this beautiful country, a visa is required. A visa is a renewable license to stay in country. Depending on your situation, you may require a different type of visa.
The broad types of visas for France are:
- short-stay visas which allow for 90 days of stay
- long-stay visas for up to a year
For my purposes, the long-stay visa will be ideal. Applying for a visa with France requires an appointment at the nearest French Consulate in the US (Atlanta pour moi), along with a healthy helping of paperwork – my visa application, photo ID, driver’s license, and passport. For other more adult readers: a proof or residency like a deed of a house, a rental agreement (my parents rent my apartment), or a utilities bill can serve in place of the dirver’s license. I’ll also need proof of accommodation in France, my bank statement, and… 99 euros. Ooh la la.
That’s only half the paperwork. After my appointment at the French Consulate and the approval of my application, I have a lot more paperwork to bring with me to France to be translated and filed. (And no, I can’t translate them myself. Quelle connerie, n’est-ce pas?) More to come on French visas in the future.
What will I do for money?
There are lots of different things expats can do for money. One of my favorite articles by NomadicMatt covers this topic very well.
My hope is that this blog will serve as a resource to readers who are interested in travelling to France, and that returning readers will support me by donating and reading my blog.
There are other options I’ve considered in making money for travel. Signing up for a Teaching Assistant program with Auburn University is an option where I could go to France for 7 months and help French students learn English. It would be a good opportunity to search for another job at the same time. It’s a shorter arrangement than my goal, but I’d be closer to travelling France than I am now.
By the way – you can donate to me. If you find that you enjoy reading Dreams of France and you want to support a young novice traveller in his adventures, please click the donate button over in the menu. Every little bit is appreciated.
Where will I live in France?
This mystery will become more clear as this year comes to an end. For my visa, I’m required to provide proof of accommodation, which could be anywhere from hostels and hotels to a house that I agree to house-sit for someone. (Je vous regarde, Monsieur et Mademoiselle Maillard). Perhaps even a professor or student at the university in Paris could lend me a place to rest.
Marcel et Honoré
I love my cats. Naturally, I want to bring them to France with me to be my travel buddies. Delta Airlines allows pets to travel in the cabin if the soft or hard-sided kennel is ventilated on at least two sides and fits the dimensions underneath the seats. The cost of transporting two cats with me to Europe, sitting in the cabin with me, is $400.
If you’re wondering if I’d consider letting my pets travel as cargo, the answer is never. My cats will both die clutched in my arms in the cabin of an airplane before I let them be stored anywhere else. The good thing is that if anyone, for any reason, asks if they can move my cats somewhere I can’t see them, I’ll just get off the plane. So I think they’ll be safe.
I also will need to be able to find veterinary services for them while living in the country. Another mystery for another time.
What will I bring?
I won’t bring much with me to France, even though I plan to live there for two years. I’ve recently become fascinated with minimalism, a movement that lends itself to light travellers, unpicky sleepers, and people interested in refocusing their lives to be lived with intention through the practice of eliminating and donating items that do not add meaning to their lives.
I’ve already begun the process of eliminating clutter in my apartment kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. While my apartment is now very neat and clean, I still feel there are lot of clothes and things that I don’t need, and they don’t add meaning to my own life.
I’m inspired by the extreme minimalists Ryan Nicodemus and Josh Fields, and any photo where you can see everything that someone owns layed neatly out on the floor. Curse you, symmetry and beautiful backdrops.
My goal is to slowly reduce everything I need to a single pack. This will include:
- My camera and charger
- My chromebook and charger
- A single pair of shoes to walk everywhere in
- Whatever book I happen to be reading at the time
- Journal and pens
- Water bottle
- My Phone and charger
- My ukulele
- A backpack that can hold/attach these items to it
- Maybe a travel drone for some lovely blog videos
And as for my living spaces I will try to keep only what I need, what makes me happy, and perhaps some art.
As someone with ADHD, I feel that minimalism is a good life choice for myself to reduce distracting stimuli, to help me build good habits, eliminate stressful clutter, and to make myself just 10% happier. We’ll see how I feel about it when I’m in a foreign country with everything I own on my back.