September of 2007
Rebecca applies to the UIUC teaching exchange program
Rebecca is accepted by the UIUC teaching exchange program.
January 15, 2008
Rebecca is asked by Poitiers' English Dept (PED) to send them an application, too.
late January 2008
Jeff looks into visas, learns that we must wait to apply until 2 months before we intend to leave.
February 1, 2008
Rebecca's application is accepted by the PED.
June 30, 2008
Rebecca contacts the PED to ask about her work agreement from the french labor department (ANAEM). The Chicago Consulate's website says this will be required for approval.
July 3, 2008
The PED sends Rebecca's contract, suggesting that it will be sufficient in lieu of the ANAEM agreement.
July 10-17, 2008
We complete the applications as detailed on the webpage of the Chicago consulate. This is one week of frantic copying, translating, and notarizing. Jeff's application totals some 100 pages of documents.
July 18, 2008
First appointment at the Chicago consulate--we are denied visas on the basis of not having an agreement from the ANAEM. The contract, Madame du Consulat explains, is insufficient.
July 21, 2008
After emailing the PED to give them our unhappy news, we are contacted for the first time by "Monsieur A" in the Human Resources department. Monsieur A informs us that he has just submitted the request for the ANAEM agreement. We are told that it is a "long, disagreeable, and complex process".
late July, 2008
The ANAEM application goes to the Paris Sud office instead of the newly opened, but apparently poorly publicized, Poitiers branch, where it is promptly lost.
August of 2008
All of France goes on vacation. We lose contact with Monsieur A and the PED.
August 31, 2008
We spend Rebecca's birthday on hold with an Evil Online Booking Agency, trying to change our date of departure.
September 4, 2008
Original date of departure to France
September 5, 2008
We reestablish contact with Monsieur A and the PED. They are surprised to hear that we don't have visas, but reassure us that everything will work out eventually ("On y arrivera..." meaning "We will get there...").
September 12, 2008
We spend 4.5 hours on the phone with Evil Online Booking Agency (EOBA) trying to change our tickets again. They made us hang up after making the change to the first reservation before we could make the second change. After becoming delirious during the 4 hours on the phone, Jeff neglects to mention that the new tickets should be sent to the same address as the last tickets, not the old address in Illinois.
September 15, 2008
Second date of departure
September 16, 2008
After several more emails from us, Monsieur A assures us that he has contacted both the ANAEM and the Chicago consulate, and that everything has been worked out.
September 17, 2008
Jeff calls EOBA to inquire after Rebecca's new airline tickets and to request that his new tickets be re-sent to the correct address. After putting him on hold for an hour, the Lovely Customer Service Lady explains that while Jeff's new tickets are paper tickets, Rebecca's are e-tickets...because it's much less confusing that way (?). Jeff wonders how many more times he will have to supply EOBA with his new address before they get it right. Lovely Customer Service Lady responds dryly, "Well, how many more times are you planning to change your flight?"
September 18, 2008
Unbeknownst to us, the ANAEM agreement is sent to the Boston consulate by mistake.
September 19, 2008
Second appointment at the Chicago consulate--we are again denied because they have received no ANAEM agreement. Madame du Consulat suggests that maybe it was sent to Boston by mistake, but she isn't sure. We have no idea how she knows this, and Madame du Consulat is unable to give us any more information. She suggests we call the ANAEM office in Poitiers and ask them to fax the agreement directly to Chicago.
September 22, 2008
Due to the time difference the ANAEM office is open from 2am-9:30am CDT. We make several attempts to call the ANAEM branch in Poitiers, but without knowing the proper information to locate the file, are unable to make it past reception. It doesn't help that we call within an hour of closing time...no one wants to talk to us.
September 23, 2008
We return to Madame du Consulat, without appointments, and though she has still not received the proper documents from the ANAEM, she approves our visas. We are told that some mysterious exception has been made, (maybe because classes are about to begin?).
September 25, 2008
First day of classes at Poitiers
October 3, 2008
Current date of departure