Hell is French Bureaucracy.
Sartre had it wrong. Perhaps he was too enmeshed in it to totally see the horror.
The advice I was given by a PhD student and fellow American language assistant back in November was that those first three months of living in France always suck. I thought I'd be all in the clear come January, seeing as this would mark my three-month stint.
"Not so fast!" says the French government: "You have to sign some random form you've already signed (yeah, that other one was a FAKE OUT! LOLZ!) and photocopy it in triplicate, expedite it to our regional branch, national branch, and some other random branch we'll think of later...oh, PS, we need it by the end of the week, or you won't get paid this month, and possibly not next month, either. What's that? You haven't received that form yet? Well, don't worry. It'll come soon."
Yeah, like the package for Christmas my mother sent me on December 4 that I got on January 2? Efficiency and the French postal service are just a bit at odds.
I'm stressing out here. I didn't realize they could do that to us. In Austria, all I had to do was register with the police, snag my Aufenthaltstitel (visa) from the Bezirksamt (district agency...in Amstetten it was also the mayor's office) and I was good to go! No dragging out this immigration status b***s*** three plus months! I have the feeling I'll be doing this once a month until April--the necessity of which I will not understand, all the way through to the end.
Though, to be fair, I had plenty of annoying occurrences at certain magistrates to bog me down in Vienna...
*Borrowed, for effect, from the English translation of Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre. The more famous, subsequent line is, "Hell is other people."