It’s early October and for all the international students in France this means one thing – it’s OFII time!
My appointment at l’Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) was last Friday and I am happy to report that it went very smoothly. In less than an hour I had my two medical x-rays, presented all my paperwork to the official, answered a couple of questions with my very basic French skills and was sent on my way with a special stamp in my passport that allows me to stay in France for a full year and multiple entries to the Schengen area.
You receive a lot of information from OFII before your appointment but there is one thing they do not mention in their letters that is of great importance. It is not a secret that you will have a chest x-ray during your interview. What they do not mention is that they do not provide medical gowns or any sort of cover.
I cannot emphasise this enough for the ladies: unless you are comfortable with the (male) doctor and (male) radiographer seeing you stripped to the waist, wear a t-shirt to your OFII appointment. The doctor will let you keep your t-shirt on provided you remove your bra. I was fortunate enough to be wearing a t-shirt anyway, but one of my American friends was not. She does have waist-length hair, however, and told me she walked into the x-ray room with her hair artfully arranged to cover what she could.
I asked her if she had felt at all uncomfortable during the x-ray. “No,” was her simple reply. “The doctor and radiographer were total professionals and anyway, they’re French. There are, like, topless women on the cover of fashion magazines so by the time they walk past a newsagency on the way to work they’ve probably already seen, like, five pairs so one more couldn’t hurt.”
I couldn’t really argue with her logic but for those of us who are a little more shy or have shorter hair, OFII time is also t-shirt time.