My life Stories – Part 17 (Uncertainty - That's life, and it's okay)
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…
Before we came to France, we had contacted the French embassy in Kuala Lumpur to enquire about the legal procedure for me as the non-European spouse of an European citizen to be residing in France, regarding whether I needed to apply for a long term visa for entering France among some other things.
They said that as the spouse of an European citizen moving to France with my European husband, I don't need a long term visa to enter France. I just needed to enter France as a tourist and then apply for the resident card in France within 90 days after arrival. We also checked online for getting ready all the required documents for applying the resident card.
We wanted to apply for the resident card as soon as possible during the first week after we arrived. Being unsure about many things, we went to the sub-prefecture here to inquire about it, and we were being told that we needed to get to the main branch in Annecy for applying the resident card, but before that can happen, we needed to wait until my husband has renewed his old Health Medical Card, which afterwards we found out over the counter on the day when we went for the appointment that this procedure is unnecessary as my husband is actively being employed in France. Didn't know that it was a misinformation being given to us, we had followed the instructions from that officer. And hence, we waited until my husband renewed the Health Medical Card after receiving his first payslip, which then would take many weeks for it to be processed. And after that, we needed to make an online appointment reservation via the website that was being introduced due to the pandemic.
We didn't want to wait until two months later for us to start trying to get an appointment. As soon as he sent off the documents for renewing his Health Medical Card upon receiving his first payslip in the beginning of March, we started trying to get an appointment for applying the resident card, however, it wasn't easy at all.
We were told by the officer in the sub-prefecture office that we should try to make an appointment through the website on Sunday nights at 12 midnight. We didn't understand why it has to be at midnight hour and only available on Sundays, but we just follow his advice. Not just that we have tried to make a reservation for an appointment on Sunday midnight, but we also tried on different days and different timing, and we still couldn't even get through the first step which is about the available date and time slots. We have been trying a few times everyday for a few weeks and we still couldn't get an appointment. And apparently, it's not possible to make a phone call to talk to someone.
It was quite unsettling for us, as I might need to fly out of France and Europe if I still couldn't get an appointment before the deadline of 90 days after arrival. It would cost a lot of money and troubles to be travelling during the pandemic which was still going strong in many countries at that time.
Since it's not possible to just make a phone call to enquire about anything, we made an effort to re-visit the sub-prefecture on my husband's off day, to see if we can find out about what can we do, if we still couldn't get an appointment, however, the one and only officer who is responsible for administrating the foreigners affair, was on holiday for that whole week. While the other people who are working there 'refuse' to take any of our questions even before we asked anything, by saying that it's not their department's responsibility. And so, we came back empty handed, and continuing trying to get onto the website to get an appointment. And nothing changed.
Meanwhile, I was also looking at flights and entry requirements in different countries for travelling amid the pandemic, about where can I fly to at the minimal cost, if I still couldn't get an appointment closer to the deadline. I was ready to just go somewhere, anywhere, if that's the way it has to be. This life journey has been teaching this mind that it doesn't need to fight against any difficulties, but just do its best to move on by gliding through the difficulties, allowing the current to bring it to where it is.
Then we looked at the website again to see if we can find some useful information, then only my husband found a contact form after browsing the website for some time, and sent a message via the contact form explaining about our situation. Surprisingly, we got an email reply on the same day telling us that the reservation slots will only be opened between 8 and 9 in the morning on Mondays.
And so, we waited for the upcoming Monday to come, and got onto the website even before 8 am. At last, we managed to make an appointment. There were less than 40 slots available for that particular week, and they all were gone within the first few minutes. No wonder we couldn't make a reservation after trying so many times. It reminded me about the time when we tried to make an appointment for the AZ vaccination in Malaysia where all the available slots were gone in less than half an hour as millions of people were racing to get an appointment for early vaccination.
Many people were so disappointed at that time as they couldn't get an appointment after trying very hard to get one, and then, they had to go through many months of uncertainty while waiting to receive their appointment date set by the health ministry department, by checking their status many times everyday, not knowing whether they will be getting an appointment for sure, as there was rumour about there were not enough vaccine for everyone, or when will they get it, while seeing some others who were younger were getting their appointment and vaccination done, but they themselves still haven't received an appointment after many months of waiting. The anxiety level was building up for many people who were anxiously waiting to receive their appointment, as there was no confidence and trust at all towards the 'messy' government at that time. Ironically, there were other people in many other countries in the world rejecting any kind of vaccination out of their own particular reasons, and the governments have been throwing out their expired unused vaccines. And that's their freedom.
Meanwhile, the earliest dates that we could get an appointment for applying the resident card were a few weeks after my 90 days deadline. And hence, immediately, my husband sent another email to them explaining about the situation of whether there will be any complication for me since I couldn't start applying for the resident card within the 90 days deadline due to the difficulty of booking the appointment slots. And very efficiently, they replied within a few hours, saying that they understood the complication that many people have been going through, and would take the confirmation email with the date of making the reservation for the appointment before the deadline as part of the application procedure, which means that I don't need to leave France. What a relief after two months of uncertainty trying to find a living space and dealing with legal documentation. That's life. And it's okay.
Finally, the appointment day arrived. We took the train to Annecy on the day before and stayed one night at the Hotel des Alpes (highly recommended for its cleanliness, friendly staff, and excellent location), to make sure that we won't miss the appointment due to any reasons, since it's very difficult to get an appointment. The next morning, we went to the Prefecture half an hour earlier than the appointment time, and got our numbers. After waiting for a few minutes, we were called.
It was a really fast and warm experience, maybe because we had prepared the few documents (both original and copy) that is needed for the application in the exact order that they asked for. The officer who attended our files, was really friendly, helpful and funny, which we normally don't see in some countries' government departments where most of the officers are very 'formal', or even 'shouting' at the people who are anxious and confused about many overly complicated procedures. She was really 'impressed' that we even had kept our flight tickets that show which date that we arrived in France. It was a complete opposite governmental affair experience from where I came from. After checking all our documents, we got our 'temporary' resident card being issued immediately, and I can now officially live and work in France. Usually the resident card will be ready within six months, but due to the past two years of pandemic, there are backlogs and delays in processing and issuing the resident card, but it's not a problem at all, said the officer. We can just go directly to the Prefecture in the afternoon without making appointment to renew the temporary card, if we still haven't received our resident card within six months. The entire application process took less than 30 minutes for both our applications. Thank you, France.
The world just needs more openness and humanity to make life easier and simpler for everyone. However, due to survival instinct on top of the political influenced racial and national identity, that is propagating selfishness and discrimination, more and more human beings in different areas in the world are heading towards the opposite of openness and humanity, which they don't realize that it will only lead towards many different types of complication and difficulty in all and everyone, including themselves.
We just do our best to make things work, if possible, and let it be.