At 8 o’clock this morning I stepped out of the house and into my car to go to the prefecture for my 9 o’clock appointment, to drop off my nationality application. It should really only take twenty minutes to get to the prefecture, but it was rush hour, so I was taking no chances. And it’s a good thing I didn’t, because almost every road to get to the centre ville of Poitiers these days is apparently blocked off, or slowed down because the other access roads are blocked off. I was shivering in front of the prefecture at 8:40, waiting for it to open with about fifteen other people.
At 9:08 no one had called my name, and since I had class at 10:15, I went to the info desk to ask what was up. The desk agent happened to simultaneously receive a phone call from the naturalisation office asking me to come upstairs.
I was nervous about getting to school for 10:15 and I was right to be, because it wasn’t actually just a drop-off appointment, but also the interview, which I was not expecting or prepared for. I hadn’t really taken the time to think about what I might say about the valeurs de la République, about laïcité, about the veil being banned in public places (yes she did ask me about that!). She seemed fairly satisfied with my answers, though I did sort of feel some pressure to adhere to everything France claims to be about and to show my patriotic side, which was weird. I mean, I love France, but I’m not used to giving speeches about it.
If I’d been prepared I probably would have said more about a lot of things. There were some quiz-like questions about the name of the national anthem, France’s three-word motto (the way she asked this question totally threw me off, I had no idea what she was talking about), at what age students can leave school, etc. She also wanted to know what television I watch (umm… Les Reines du shopping? No I didn’t say that, though I did mention Dans la peau d’un chef), what French press I read (not much, much more into novels), what music I listen to. It felt strangely like an inquisition but I felt pretty confident in my affection for all things French.
There are some papers I have to send in that weren’t on the list (the calendar of our home loan payments, an attestation from the CAF…). There isn’t another interview. She told me the average waiting time for an answer is 9 months. I told one of my colleagues this afternoon and she said, “Enough time to have a baby!” Also, I got to work at 10:05, despite another road being blocked on the way there.
One other paperwork-related note—there were a few documents where she kept the original: my birth certificate, its apostille, and my FBI background check. I sure as hell hope they do not lose that last one because it will be a b*tch to get another.