When you first have the dream of going on exchange, it sounds simple- after all there is a program set up to facilitate your adventure, all you need to do is apply. Well, the thing is that you don’t just have to apply once. I began my application process way back in March. It began with searching among the possible choices of overseas universities for one that suited me well. After settling on Francois-Rabelais, l’Université de Tours for its proximity to Paris, affordable, readily available accommodation options, small-town feel, and reputation for a high quality of spoken French (though whether that’s true with the younger generation I’m yet to find out), I then had to select possible units to study. This involved applying for unit approval with the Monash Abroad officials for Linguistics, French and General Arts units. Then I had to get approval from both Science and Arts faculties to pursue these studies. Then the application had to go to the overseas travel office (Monash Abroad). After this stage of approval was met, it was off to France – some 7 months later. I waited with eager anticipation for my letter of acceptance… only to find myself described as a student from LaTrobe! That discrepancy wasn’t going to look good on my visa application, so it was another week’s wait before I got my hands on the real thing.
Having succeeded at my application for exchange, it was time to start the next challenge- obtaining a visa. The website was a net of information, in which I often found myself caught, unable to find my way back to where I had been before. Information was repeated but intended for a slightly different audience- I wasn’t sure exactly what I was required to put in my application. I knew one thing though- a police check was essential. Around 4 visits to the police station later, my police check application was complete and sent off for processing. Once it came back, all my documents were scanned and printed and placed neatly in a pile, which I double checked. Then I took my passport and the pile of papers to the post office and sent it off to Sydney- hoping that the statement ‘All visa applications for exchange students must be sent by mail’ still stood true and that I wouldn’t be called upon to visit Sydney in person.
Applications for accommodation, applications for enrollment, applications for the OFII (an official part of my visa to be completed on arrival in France) and applications for CAF (rental assistance which is available in France) are still to be finalised… and I’m sure there will be more paperwork hoops to jump through once I arrive. Still, I would happily print out and sign a pile of papers as tall as la tour Eiffel if it meant that this journey would come to be.