“Ain’t it fun living in the real world? Ain’t it good being all alone?”
I promise we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled Marseille photos soon. However, first I want to talk about a subject that’s currently weighing pretty heavily on my mind. This post will be a combination of this discussion and photos from La Caféothèque, a blogger favorite in Paris.
|Come have a coffee with me!|
Last week, I scheduled a coffee date here with the lovely Alex, who I met at a training session for a potential job in the fall with a childcare company here in Paris. As we sipped our coffees and discussed our options, it became clear that we were both facing some serious difficulties if we wanted to stay in France even for another year, let alone long term.
|A fellow Francophile with a taste for good coffee and a need for a visa|
One of the biggest problems with being an American and a lover of France is that it’s not easy for us to get visas to stay here. Alex was working as a teaching assistant and I as an au pair, so for this first year, not such a problem. Now that we’re both done with that and looking for real jobs, however, things get a lot more difficult. As neither of us are EU citizens, we have to either continue on a student visa or get a work visa in order to legally remain in the country.
To come to France on a working visa, you have to get a company to sponsor you. Not only can this be expensive (up to 2,000€), the company also has to prove that you, and only you, can do this job and you will not be taking a job away from a French citizen. In areas with high unemployment, there is virtually no chance that they’ll say yes to that. Of course, given the hassle, it’s generally unlikely that a company will help you out with a visa in the first place. Many job ads, even for English speakers, state expressly that the candidate must have EU citizenship or valid working papers.
|How can you possibly choose from all this deliciousness? Tip: the cheesecake is by far the best I’ve had in Paris. They just don’t make it in France like they do in the States; this is the closest I’ve found.|
|Om nom nom.|
I’ve seen lists on many other blogs that the best ways to come here are as a student, teaching assistant, or to marry an EU citizen. I am currently on a student visa (as are all American au pairs) and, as most of you know, am hopelessly in love with a Frenchman, but we haven’t been together anywhere near long enough to entertain the idea of marriage. So what’s a girl to do when she wants to stay with the man she loves but has zero chance of getting a working visa? My options consist of applying for a Master’s program (but the one I’m looking at has a relatively low chance of me getting in), signing up for the Cours de Civilisation Française at the Sorbonne, or finding a job that will qualify me for the French-American Chamber of Commerce’s traineeship program, where they’ll pay to sponsor my visa. But of course all of these options come with their own host of problems- namely, money. How am I supposed to pay for courses when I’m running out of funds and swore to myself I wouldn’t ask for my parents’ help anymore? And how am I supposed to find a job in a country where it’s practically unheard of to be 23 without a Master’s degree? Really, it’s all been enough to put me in a terrible mood the past few weeks.
|One of the best parts about this cafe is extensive seating! This is one of three rooms.|
|You can buy different types of coffee from all over the world right inside the door.|
Fortunately, you’re allowed to work up to 20 hours a week on a student visa, so at least I wouldn’t starve. Many students are also babysitters or au pairs for this exact reason, especially as rent in Paris is so expensive. Between this and all of the prospective paperwork, my head is legitimately spinning. So much to think about!