My application for the "professional license" program is in a folder somewhere in Montardon, a suburb of Pau to the north, at the Lycée d'Enseignement Général et Technologique Agricole de Pau-Montardon. I was told that I needed to also officially register with the university at Pau, and last week after finally determining that the department I had to register in was the School of Law (because of course it is), I went to get my application packet. Which is, as I remember from the packet at Tours, designed for people who have just come through the French secondary education system, and therefore asks for all sorts of information that doesn't apply to me at all, like the French high school I went to, and the number of the insurance policy my parents have for me here. But that was okay, I thought, remembering that the university administration in Tours didn't seem too upset about blank fields, although there were many more blank fields in this particular application after I was done filling in what I could.
"I have questions about the rest of the fields to fill in," I told the woman who gave me the packet. "You need to set up an appointment with the administration office, and they'll help you," she replied, and I picked the earliest time available this week.
And so I arrived this morning with every bit of paperwork I have been given over the past year and several months, figuring that if I had everything with me then I wouldn't have to reschedule to fill in the missing bits. Nine o'clock arrived and I stepped up to the counter, and the woman there looked at me quizzically and said, "But there are all these blank fields in your application!" "I know," I replied. "I was told you could help me fill them in."
"We don't have time to help students with their individual applications," she said. "What's more, your dossier is at the school in Montardon, and we have to wait for that to arrive here in order to complete the application process. You'll have to talk to the secretary there." This would be the secretary that only answers my e-mails if I can convince her that it would be really inconvenient for her to not do so, and who I am very reluctant to antagonize in any way. "But my visa runs out just days after the dossier arrives," I explained. "I really don't want to wait until the last minute to apply for my extension."
"We can't complete your enrollment until the application that you filled out arrives from Montardon," I was told, "but that should leave plenty of time for you to get your visa request submitted."
The word that they used to reassure me was normalement which means "typically, as a rule, if all goes well." Suffice it to say that "if all goes well" is not exactly reassuring, given that I would have to immediately leave the country for who-knows-where if things do not go well.