Stressfully Adapting

Posted on Monday, Feb 25, 2019

The whole beginning of my internship in Paris was adapting to the best of my abilities while holding back stress that was threating to boil over and end my internship before I even made it to Paris. The biggest issue I faced was attaining my visa. Having done the visa process before, I knew it would take the longest to complete, so I began application first on December 19th, after I finalized housing, start dates, and transportation. All were necessary to apply for my visa.

New Year passes, and the only word I had received from them was the day after submitting my application was that I could send them a note from my internship supervisor or do not and my visa would be processed as is without it. After discussing it with my supervisor, she informed me that none of the past interns had to include this note and gotten their visa without it. A week after this, I hadn’t received any word from the French Embassy in DC. Every time I tried reaching out, they informed me they did not speak of visa over the phone, and I would have to contact a third party to tell me of my visa status. Reaching out to the third party multiple times, they could only inform me my passport was still in DC waiting for the visa.

Because of not knowing anything other than my passport was still in DC I decided to cancel my flight and not reschedule until I had my passport in my hands. During this time, I was considering canceling the trip and resigning up for my graduate classes. However, I decided that no matter what I was going to go on this internship. I finally wore down the embassy contact and they told for the past 3 weeks they had NOT processed my application as the note from my internship was now mandatory. I was shocked, not only was I told by my supervisor that a note was not possible due to the shutdown, but that the French Embassy had not thought to say to me from the beginning this note was necessary. I could feel my stress getting ready to explode and my mind beginning to scramble as the day I discovered this was the first week of class at Texas A&M, so it was too late to sign up for classes.

While my mind was racing to find any viable solution, I remembered my very first internship abroad, a summer in Prague, where I did not need a visa. After going to my calendar, I realized that internship was less than 90 days! I quickly brought up the visa page for France and discovered that I could spend 12 weeks in France without a visa. Before committing to this idea, I reached out to my advisors and supervisors and got the approval since they all agreed going for 12 weeks was better than nothing at all. I demanded my passport back and eagerly awaited its return.

At the time, I am writing this blog post I have completed about 2 weeks of work, and I am so grateful that I committed myself to overcome all the challenges that were presented to me. To any future interns wondering if the process and problems are worth the experience, I say yes, two weeks in I haven’t forgotten the stress I went through to get here, but my experiences so far have made that stress worth it. If you run into any problems, reach out to your advisors, your future supervisors, and past interns like myself we want you to take these experiences so we will help you any way we can.

Haley Wilburn
U.S. Commercial  Service
Paris, France | spring 219