Pre-Departure Jitters: The Good, the Bad, and the Visa

Headshot of Sophia Barton.
Sophia Barton
November 10, 2022

Wow, less than two months until departure and I can’t believe we’re here! The last few months have been spent on getting the visa, which was a journey, to say the least. After months of waiting for approvals, taking passport photos, making appointments, and booking flights, it’s finally here! I was able to go home for fall break and made an appointment at the Chicago office so I could go before I flew back to Portland. 10/10 reviews for VFS Chicago, the consulate employee was super friendly and managed to ease my obvious tensions and shaky hands. Despite all my preparation, my worst nightmare occurred and I didn’t have something I needed, my high school diploma! I’ve never been so thankful for my mother’s overactive Facebook account, and after my appointment, I was able to print a picture of it and run it back to the consulate. (Shoutout to the awesome employee who stopped me from freaking out when I didn’t have it, it all ended up being okay!) Less than a week after my appointment, my passport arrived at my doorstep in Portland with the coolest-looking new sticker. I’ve never been so relieved!

As a self-proclaimed visa veteran, my biggest pieces of advice for the visa process are…

  1. Bring EVERYTHING you could possibly need. Even if you don’t think you need it, why not have it?
  2. Bring your high school diploma or a picture of it! Lots of sites say that you won’t need it, but the Chicago consulate wanted me to have it just in case.
  3. If the consulate requires a trip, book your appointment in advance! Spots fill up quickly, especially for the San Francisco office. Make sure to make your appointment before booking your flight, so you don’t have to go through the headache of canceling them. (I may have had to do that… #rookiemistake)
  4. Get your photo at the consulate! It’s cheaper than a passport photo at Walgreens or CVS, and most times those don’t even meet the correct requirements.
  5. RELAX. It will all be okay! IES Abroad gets you started on the process ahead of time, so as long as you’re making deadlines, you have plenty of time.

Now that the visa process is finally over, I’ve been able to focus on the more fun stuff! I’m trying to start purchasing things ahead of time so I’m not doing things at the last minute, though I’m not sure how well that will work. So far, I have my outlet adaptors and way too much motion sickness medicine, so I have a long way to go. Things are going to start moving so quickly, almost too quickly!! Pretty soon, finals will be over and I’ll be headed home for 10 days, then off to Nantes! Pre-registering for classes and submitting my family preferences has made everything feel so real. If I could explain my current mood in three words, I would probably say nervous, excited, and a little bit sad. Leaving one of my favorite places in the world (My University!) and my best friends for a semester will no doubt be challenging, but I could not be more excited for what’s to come. I know that I am going to learn so much about myself and French culture, and it’s been three years too long since the last time! See you in 53 days, Nantes!!

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Headshot of Sophia Barton.

Sophia Barton

Hello! My name is Sophia Barton, and I'm a sophomore at the University of Portland, though I'm originally from Indiana. (Shout Midwest folks!) I'm currently majoring in Political Science and Global Affairs and French, with a Spanish minor. Can you tell that I love languages? I could not be more excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the Nantes culture, and I'm so excited to take you all along with me. Rendez-vous à Nantes!! :)

2023 Spring
Home University:
University of Portland
French Language
Political Science
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