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Thursday, August 16, 2007

On the Joy of Passports

I've always loved passports. They grant entry into exotic places (minds out of the gutter, gentlemen), and there is something reassuringly official about them. Although today’s obsession with compulsory identification and perpetual surveillance is rather creepy, a part of me finds comfort in orderly discipline – a consequence, perhaps, of many rigorous years of ballet training.

Passports are also distinctly personal, though, at least for the avid traveler. They remind me of my sticker collection in the 5th grade. The little Hello Kitty notebook slowly became flooded by my most favoritest stickers, which I could then peruse and admire at my leisure. (Note: I am by no means suggesting that passports are as nauseatingly girly as sticker collections.)

There are fewer and fewer empty pages in my passport these days. Just yesterday, a perky young woman in glasses at the French consulate in Miami stamped one of them with a shiny new language assistant visa. It sits alongside my now four-year-old student visa. By May 2008, I will have officially lived abroad twice. I intend to find a real job and become a grown-up when I return, but my passport doesn’t expire until 2011. There are pages yet to fill, so although my intentions may be honorable, I think I had better not trust them.

Side-note: I am a little more than disturbed by the fact that I only just realized, upon writing the above, that the word “passport” is composed of the words “pass” and “port.” I thought I couldn’t possibly feel more gloriously stupid than the time I recognized the New York Yankees logo as an overlapping “N” and “Y,” but alas I underestimate myself.

9 comments:

Destination Metz said...

Where did you previously live abroad?

Melissa said...

I lived in Paris for a semester, which was wonderful. I was taking just four classes at the American University and had time to do plenty of wandering. My first choice for this program was Toulouse because I wanted to experience the south of France, but I've warmed up to the idea of being so near Paris.

dw said...

Have you seen the new passports? My friend just got one and they're wicked cool.

Cyrus said...

Hi, I just came across your site. My girlfriend and I are considering doing the English Assistant program next year. We both currently live in California -- and I speak French, and she needs to catch up a bit. Would it be possible for me to ask you a few questions about the logistical side of things on this program? Thanks! My email is cfarivar [at] cfarivar [dot] org

Melissa said...

1) OMG, new passports? I'd love to see one!

2) I wish "wicked" were part of the slang down here.

3) Cyrus, I'll be sending you an email right now.

Valerie said...

Ahh passports. The bane of my job, now that they are are required for flights into the U.S. from Canada. I know it is just a formality, but their requirement makes our northern neighbor seem further away. Pretty soon we'll even need them for driving over the border!

The Grim Repas said...

how was the wait at the miami consulate? Im heading down soon, and am nervous about the no appointment thing.. i would hate to have to come back another day.

Katie said...

Mine has a student visa as well, and I'm hell-bent to fill all of the pages up before it expires in 2016... we'll see! I see you're a (former?)ballerina as well... I practiced ballet intensively for many years, and quitting it was probably the stupidest mistake I've ever made, I miss it so much!

Melissa said...

At the consulate, you're given a number when you come in, then you sit and wait your turn, no appointment necessary. It doesn't take long at all if you're there at 9:00 a.m. So long as you have all the documents you need (passport, 2 passport photos, filled-out consulate form, arrete with a copy, lettre de presentation with a copy) you should have no problems.

Katie: Yeah, I took ballet my whole life, but I was forced to quit because of a back injury (herniated disk). I guess it just wasn't in the cards, but I still really miss it.