Campus France : This link takes you directly to the home page of this organization. I’m not sure why this step exists, except it costs you an extra $70 ($75 in my case because I sent in a money order). However, in my post on visas I go over some of the details about how to go about filling out this form.
French Consulate : This link is for the consulate in CHICAGO. There are others around the country and where you will need to go may be different from where I needed to go. I unfortunately didn’t get a picture up of the building, which would have been helpful. It was set apart at all from the building “next door.” This is because there were two addresses in the same building.
French Phone services : So, I’m going to be trying this service out for my semester abroad. In Pau, I had some severe difficulties with getting a phone that worked. Although, I would love to be confident enough to go without one, I like the added security I get with a mobile phone. After I’ve used it a bit I’ll be sure to post more about how the service was, and whether it suited my needs. The customer service is entirely in English…which is a major plus. Not exactly complete immersion, but again sometimes security takes precedent. (my dad made this find)
Megabus : I used this service to get to my consulate visit. I cannot recommend it enough! While flying would have been faster, the cost is just waaay too much for the average college student. Being on a tight budget, I chose cost… and the bus ride was phenomenal! It wasn’t like the Greyhound buses that I’m always grossed out by and are uncomfortable. These buses had a lot of leg room, comfy seats and weren’t gross. Better still: the prices are ridiculously low! I postponed a bit to purchase mine so my cost was a little higher than it could have been. When I first looked into the pricing the cost was $10 to Chicago and $15 return!!! You can’t beat it. I’m planning on using this bus service in the future for weekend excursions. It appeared to be limited to the east coast mostly, but the lines seem to be expanding westward.
I cannot recommend P.I.M.P.s enough! Traveling as a women presents one major issue that is not widely discussed by any international advisor: the menstrual cycle. An awkward topic to begin with, I wanted to offer a product that makes it…less awkward. A lot of American women use tampons- I was one of them-however, in other countries tampons are hard to come by, expensive, or just not available. (I first discovered this in Malaysia.) In France, tampons are all of the above. If you can find them, they are pricey. My stepmom introduced me to P.I.M.P.s about a year ago. P.I.M.P.s are cloth pads. I know, I know, my first thought was “Ew!” too. But, I’m here to tell you that despite the “ick” factor associated with periods, I actually don’t dread the “monthly curse” anymore. I don’t enjoy it mind you, but it’s not torture. Not mention that these pads are pretty (which makes everything better in my opinion), they are reusable so have the added benefit of not contributing to filling up of land fills. Also, you will always have them available to you. When traveling, one of my greatest fears is starting and not having or being able to find pads and/or tampons. Having cloth ones means that I will always have them on hand. Since I plan to travel to countries that aren’t considered “Western” this was a weighing issue, one that I’m surprised I didn’t hear advice on while preparing to go abroad. Well, ladies, here is your advice! I suggest you start with an overnight and a small/extra-small size. I found that when these two sizes are needed/used is when you are less likely to worry about how effective they are (they are more comfortable and more effective than any tampons or pad I’ve used…just an fyi). I’ve dubbed these “transition” sizes and have given them as gifts, as they were first gifted to me. 🙂