As part of the French legal procedure, language assistants are required to go in for a medical visit within the first three months of their stay in France to officially be legal in the country. A few of my friends who have not gotten their appointments yet might agree that the country is notorious for slow paperwork –or, just lost paperwork. But I gotta say, it’s not always the nightmare it’s made out to be. Or maybe I was lucky. I’d like to think it’s the former.
I just came out of my medical visit, so I’ll share what to expect.
But first, here’s my timeline of the paperwork:
Early/mid-October: I send in my OFII paperwork.
October 17: I get a letter saying that OFII received my documents.
October 21: I get a second letter from OFII with my appointment date set exactly a month later. I am told what to bring.
November 21: I go in for my appointment.
What to bring for the medical visit.
My second letter said I should have the following things ready for my visit:
1. Passport: this is so they can add the final stamp allowing you to stay in France for the duration of your contract. You get the passport stamp the day of your appointment.
2. A photograph: Une photographie de face, tête nue. I had extra copies of passport photos and used one of those.
3. Copy of proof of housing: This could be the attestation de domicile, quittance de loyer, a utilities bill, or a phone bill. I showed my attestation, and it was enough.
4. A past medical certificate, if available. This is if you have previously had a similar appointment in France. I’ve never had one, and it was not necessary.
5. A stamp, amounting to the total on the letter they previously sent me. I bought three stamps before my appointment, but no one mentioned anything about them at the office. So they were not necessary.
You wait outside the office until they open up. I arrived half an hour early and read The Scarlet Letter on my phone while a line of people began forming. Classy. Once the doors opened, we lined up inside to check- in with the secretary. You tell her you’re an assistant, show her the letter you got from OFII and your passport. Next, you go into a small waiting room with the others. The medical visit procedure has four main steps which could be in any order:
- You meet with a doctor who asks you if you’re pregnant (for the x-ray). She also looks at your passport and checks your vision. I wear contacts, and she said I can keep them in for the short eye test.
- You go in for an x-ray of your lungs. You take off your shirt and bra. You step into a machine, put your chest onto a wall and breathe in. It’s fast and painless.
- You see a doctor who checks your breathing. She also asks if you have gotten your basic shots. They don’t ask for the year or day or proof. I just said yes to all. She also asks general questions: are you allergic to anything? Do you take medication? Have you been hospitalized? Do you smoke? Etc. This is a very quick session as well.
- Finally, you meet the last person. You give her your proof of housing, a (passport) photo, and your passport to get the stamp.
Honestly, I did not expect the appointment to go by so fast. There are four medical professionals you visit while there, but each one took around 5-10 minutes. I was also intimidated before going in. But these Bordelaise women were nice and understanding. The woman who took my x-ray demonstrated what to do showing how to breathe in deep for the photo. Also, while waiting, I met some other friendly assistants including some I have seen before. At first, everyone was kind of quiet —you know, like many strangers crammed into a waiting room, but then people started asking questions and more jumped into the conversation. There were about 12 people there or so.
Are the doctors mean?
No they were very sweet and understanding. And quick. I was intimidated for no reason.
Were you naked?
For the x-ray, you take off your bra and shirt. You keep your pants on. The woman is not a creeper. She’s nice and quick. I didn’t feel a bit awkward.
Was it a long wait?
Actually, I think I was the first one to be done. The whole thing, including the four visits and the waiting, took about an hour for me, excluding the early arrival. There were people who were called in after me, but I don’t think they had to wait too long either.
Where was the appointment?
In the center of Bordeaux, if you’re in the Bordeaux region. The bus and tram stops are at Gambetta.
What do I bring?
Your passport, proof of housing, a passport photo. You can also bring the letter they sent you. I brought my glasses and contacts in case. But they made me keep my contacts on for the eye test.
Well, hope this helps. If you’re still waiting for the letters, I sincerely hope they get to you soon.
PS: And real quick: the middle-schoolers I am teaching are great, and I enjoy every hour with them. I mean, except when they’re hyper and won’t stop talking. But even then, I still like it. It is then that I give them the stare and they calm down. But I will save my techniques and lesson plan ideas for a later post.