Thursday, October 18, 2012

Titre de séjour

Ten thousand papers and many moons later, I finally got mytitre de séjour. For those who do not know, this is a card that entitles you to live and work for a certain period in France.

Before I started living here in France, I processed everything that I needed to be able to stay here for a long time with my husband back in Singapore. I got a visa from the embassy which is valid for a year's stay. And upon my arrival here, I needed to undergo a medical exam and several not-so-useful seminars regarding the country's history, social integration, and blah blah blah, to be able to get a stamp on my passport that says I have completed all the necessary requirements to be able to stay here for a year.

And now that this visa expired, I had to undergo another set of tiresome procedures to be able to get that titre de séjour that will allow me to stay in this country for yet another year, detailed as follows:

1. First and foremost, you have to call this OFII office to ask them what you have to do for the renewal. It’s not always the same all the time, from what I gather. After several attempts at calling, my husband finally had the luck to be answered by a human at the other end of the line, and he found out that I'd have to wait for a letter from them stating that I have met all the requirements to stay here for a year, the requirements being those seminars and medical exam that I took upon arrival.

2. Upon receiving the letter in step 1, you have to go to the prefecture of your region to get the list of requirements for the renewal. You cannot just simply ask this information over the phone or download the document containing the list on the internet, etc. because they like to make you queue for two hours just to get that all-important list. They will schedule an appointment for you to submit all the requirements in the so-called list. By now, you already know that everything in this country works only with appointments.

3. You submit the list on the day of your appointment. Note that this appointment is not the exact time that you will be served. They will make you wait at least two hours again, like the last time when you queued for the list, so it's no use to go there earlier than the time of your appointment. On this appointment, they will give you a piece of paper with your picture on it called récépissé de titre de séjour. It’s a paper saying that your titre de séjour is in progress. It will be valid for two months.

4. After a month, you will receive a letter that your titre de séjour is now ready for claiming at the prefecture. Thank god, during this time, there is no need for an appointment. You just go there and take a queue number.

5. You go to the prefecture to claim your titre de séjour and have to pay 106 euros of timbres fiscaux (tax stamps). This timbre fiscaux is something you buy outside of the prefecture. You can usually get them at places called Tabac Presse, a small convenience store like 7-11. I went to the prefecture on a very rainy day, so there were very few people in the queue, so that this time, I only waited an hour to finally get it.

The maddening crowd at the prefecture the first time I went there to get the list of requirements for the titre de séjour

And then again, you may or may not have to repeat all of these steps for the renewal of the titre de séjour next year. And you have to note that this card is not even what they call a residence card. To be able to get this one, you'll have to stay for god knows how many number of years in this country first, enough to accumulate heaps or mounds of thousands of papers that they will require of you. Franchement, it's not very environment-friendly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When in Rome


wear comfortable shoes 

shirt and shoes: H&M Toulouse
jeans: Uniqlo Singapore
bag: Gérard Darel Paris
bracelet: turquoise from Nepal
necklace: Claire's Toulouse
silk scarf on my hair: courtesy of a friend from Japan 
beautiful smile on my face: courtesy of Roma and that guy holding the camera
 all my friends who saw my Rome pictures loved these comfy red shoes that i was wearing.  they sure were comfortable and quite cheap for 9 euros.  but remember, never use shoes in Rome that you have never used before.  they will be uncomfortable because they're new and haven't adjusted to your feet's proportions yet.

Rome's streets are made for walking.  not just because they are narrow and maze-like.  but also because of the beautiful sights that all its hidden alleys offer.  you'll be missing a lot if you're not the walking type.

visit the Vatican City

the glittery ceiling of St Peter's Basilica

the nautilus stairway of the Vatican Museum
 isn't it such fun to visit two countries all in one day?

be amongst the beauteous naked statues

i just totally lurrrved the naked statues of Roma, especially the ones in the huge fountains at Piazza Navona.
tossing a coin that was accidentally thrown at me by a visually-impaired nun in the crazy crowd
you think my wish will still be granted? :)
 we don't have these nude statues in the Philippines.  buti pa nga sa Vatican (and they're supposed to be conservative catholics) meron.  pero sa tin, wala talaga.  and for this sole reason, i can never totally agree that it's MORE fun in the Philippines.

have lunch at one of the finest trattorias in the city

trattoria, as recently heard from a friend, is an Italin word which means a family-owned restaurant.  it is an absolute must to eat there.  not only for authentic Italian food but also to get a glimpse of what Italians are like because they tend to eat there, and not at the usual tourist hotspots.

prosciutto with mozzarella and fresh basil
the mozzarella in our antipasti was made from real buffalo's milk.  and it tasted so fresh.  mmm...

best pasta alle vongole ever.  the clams were so fresh.

i don't usually drink espresso, but i made an exception this time

we had lunch at this restaurant called Trattoria Romana La Taverna quite a few meters away from Il Colosseo.  it was good that we got there early because shortly after, there was a huge crowd waiting to be seated outside.  everybody wants to eat al fresco on such a nice day like this!  especially me.

we also dined in another trattoria at Campo de'Fiori called Grotti di Teatro di Pompeo.  i don't have pictures of the food and the place because i don't like to take pictures in the evening.  i like to keep the dinner time picture-free.  besides, low-light photography is not really my specialty.

in this trattoria, the waitress, who i guess is also the owner was so nasty and rude.  almost like the ones in Hong Kong.  but in a different kind of way.  the pasta arabiata was not really anything out of the ordinary but their version of millefeuille is to die for.  but whatever they tell you, don't order the grappa (digestif).

have an authentic Italian pizza

this pizza at a restaurant called Margherita, close to the Pantheon was not bad at all
especially if your date is craving for one like a crazed ninja turtle.

eat the best gelato in town, preferrably at Piazza di Spagna

Il Gelato di San Crispino's Crema al Cacao con Rum
i thought i would have to go far away to find Il Gelato di San Crispino, that gelateria made famous by the movie Eat Pray Love (i hated that movie, but i love gelato, so...).  but i was surprised to find that they opened a branch right next to the Pantheon.  it was very convenient because our hotel was just a few meters away from there.

recreating that famous Roman Holiday scene -- one more item off my "to-do" list ;)

finding the Piazza di Spagna was not very difficult at all.  you just need to follow the multitudes.  you don't even need to walk.  the crowd will carry you there like a tsunami.

buy something hand-made in Roma

preferably something in leather, like mine.  it will be a good souvenir.  but of course, the best souvenir of all are the good and fun memories. and what better way to capture and document these memories than with pictures.  and so, that would be the best advice of all -- when in Rome, do take the best quality of pictures.  p.s. it helps to shoot RAW. ;)