Every roller coaster eventually makes it back to the station

Today was one of those days where all you can do at the end of it is scratch your head in disbelief that it actually happened.

Day's Goal: find a way to get a CampusFrance Attestation so that I can obtain a French visa in time to get my passport back from the French Consulate to be allowed to leave for London on July 6, 2010.

Backstory/French visa requirements (which must be presented in-person to the Chicago Consulate, no exceptions):

Exposition: Lisa completed the online application and mailed a money order payment (the only payment option) to CampusFrance nearly 3 weeks ago and hadn't yet heard anything from the agency.  The CampusFrance website specifically stated to NOT contact the agency until 3 weeks had passed...but with a visa appointment with the Chicago Consulate rapidly approaching in 3 days, some action had to be taken.  CSOM International programs (CSOM IP) had already been contacted and an "Emergency" fax had been sent to CampusFrance.

Rising Action:
  • Get CSOM IP up to speed via telephone tag
  • Contact the Chicago Consulate, explain the situation, and learn that CampusFrance never received the money order that was sent.  Consulate advises "looking into" the payment situation 
  • Curse trusting first class mail over certified mail
  • "Look into" money order tracking and discover that nothing can be done
  • Succumb to burning tears with the realization that sending another money order would set the Visa process back at least 3 more weeks, meaning that either I wouldn't get my passport back in time to leave for London or I wouldn't be going to France for fall semester
  • Take a sharp look at myself, assert that I am not giving up, and call CSOM IP with an update
  • CSOM IP vows to do everything possible to help me.  They contact CampusFrance, the consulate, and several Visa obtainment agencies to explain the situation and find out what the next course of action should be
  • Receive and email from CSOM IP with a new means of contacting CampusFrance 
  • Rapidly fire a message to CampusFrance before returning CSOM IP's email
  • Discuss situation over phone with father, determining how inconceivable it was that I did everything right but that my hard work would by undone by a lost piece of mail or a dropped ball by the agency.   Create worse-case scenario plans:
    • option a: Try to obtain a French visa while in the UK
    • option b: Spend fall semester at the U and don't go to France
  • Distract self from Attestation stress by finding, contacting, and obtaining notary services for a Visa document
  • Decide that updating email inbox every 2 seconds is overly obsessive, not productive, and that errands would be a good thing to run
  • Receive a call en route to errands from CSOM IP (thankfully sister was driving) explaining that an agency CSOM contacted managed to process my file, it looked complete, and that I may be able to keep my visa appointment as scheduled.  Instructed to call the Chicago Consulate (with one minute remaining before the consulate closed for the day)
Falling Action:
  • Realize that my CampusFrance ID number would be necessary for the Consulate to check my file
  • Fail to recall CampusFrance ID
  • Call mother (who has never used a mac before) to walk her though how to access my CampusFrance account from my computer (a mac)
  • Learn that there are 2 new messages in my CampusFrance inbox...but that they are in French
  • Mother loses patience
  • Call father with update that hope may yet exist
  • Mother beeps in to say that a new message has arrived in the inbox...this time in English...reading "Congratulations--you have obtained an Attestation from CampusFrance.  Print this page and submit it with your visa application..." 
  • Washed by waves of relief
  • Call father with situation's resolution
  • Call CSOM IP to share the good news and thank them profusely (The cookie dough I made today will be in its baked form in the CSOM IP office early next week)
Post-situation celebrations:
  • Utilize $50 off coupon at Sports Authority to get Hail some new running shoes and a soccer ball for me (step one to relearning how to play!)
  • Purchase a beautiful acoustic guitar (I'm adding another project to my summer list)
  • Delight in the abundance of tofu and asparagus in my dinner from Noodles
  • Get all my visa paperwork ducks in a line and play guitar until my fingers hurt
Despondency, tears, determination, anxiety, hope, relief, joy.  I suppose every roller coaster eventually makes it back to the station.