For several weeks, I’ve prepared my trip to Cupertino. I bought my flight ticket and everything was set up. I was supposed to leave from Rennes at 7:00AM to Paris and then flight from Paris directly to San Francisco with an Air France A380. I was so excited and I was thinking that it would be easier with the immigration service in the US since I wouldn’t have any connections (i.e. less stress).
Air France service
On the day before my departure, I received an email telling me that my flight from Paris to SF was cancelled. Alright. Air France changed my flight and henceforth I’ve got a connection in Detroit. The thing is, my connection was supposed to last 1h20 which seems, to me, too short to get through the immigration stuff and everything. I was definitely stressed but I had no choice.
My trip now looks like :
Rennes -> Paris -> (1h15) Paris -> Detroit -> (1h20) Detroit -> SF
A trip on a Friday 13th
Arriving at Rennes Airport, I went to get my boarding card at an Air France automatic machine. The machine wasn’t friendly and told me to ask for an Air France employee to get my boarding card because there was a problem… After asking for some help, I found an Air France employee who told me (after some time) that they were unable to get my boarding card for the Detroit-to-SF trip. I will have to figure it out at Paris CDG where I only have 1h15 before my next flight.
Then I went through the security control and waited for my plane. Unfortunately, since we are on a Friday 13th and since I am flying with Air France, my plane was delayed for 30 minutes. That’s all I needed.
I finally arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle a bit late, find the right terminal and the gate of my Paris-Detroit flight. The plane was also delayed so I tried to figure out the problem with the Detroit-SF trip. I found an Air France’s window but there was some pending. Once the lady understood what I wanted she told me to go to my boarding gate so they would help me.
I ran to my gate because I was very late after having spending so much time at the Air France’s window. When I arrived at the gate, I was one of the last to embark. They checked my Visa and some of my papers and then I explained my problem. Guess what? They couldn’t help me and told me: “You will have to figure it out at Detroit’s airport”. I came into the plane and then fly to Detroit for 8 hours.
Arriving at Detroit
Arriving at Detroit I was super-concentrated. I was walking at about 1000 km/h and trying not to lose time again.
I finally get to the Immigration step where there was (once again) a huge queue. I was thinking (once again) “Damn, I won’t get by”. But, when I started the queue I said that I have a J-1 VISA so I was routed in another queue, actually I was almost alone in the queue 😊.
I went to the immigration post and the guy asked me “How are you?”. I told him to repeat because I didn’t get what he said (yeaaah, I was so stressed 😅). I told him that I was stressed, he asked why. I answered it was my first time in the US, that my plane was leaving soon and that immigration stuff are stressful. He told me :
No stress, it’s America 🇺🇸
The guy was super nice with me and stamp my passport after some basic questions. Immigration : done in about 5 or 10 minutes. Greaaaaat!
Luggage and customs
Then, I picked up my suitcase that arrived very fast (in the first ones, #Luck), go on and meet a policeman asking for my passport and saying:
Why do you come to the US?
I explained that I am going to intern at Apple in the Watch Software Team etc. He asked me if I have some alcohol or tobacco or food in my luggage. I said
(useful quote isn’t it?)
I then walked 10 meters when another policeman asked for my passport and told me:
Why do you come to the US?
Maaaan, I told your colleague 3 seconds ago (that means I am walking at 3.3m/s = 10.8 km/h 🤓 #NotTrue). So I answered politely because I didn’t want to get into trouble. He asked the same questions and I gave the same answers and told him that I have to check-in for my next flight that will leave soon. He verified and told me that we were going to check my luggage and that everything will be fine.
I went to another room where they look up visitor’s luggage. The policeman gave my passport to another guy who gave it to the girl next to him. The girl asked:
What are you going to do in the US?
I should have defintely wrote it on a paper… So I told them (once again) I was going to intern at Apple and everything. They were very nice and the guy said “you should be a little genius though” (I don’t think so but it was nice from him). Then the girl checked my suitcase and told me it was well organized. She even asked if my mother did it for me. I answer:
Nop, my girlfriend and I did it
Then the other guy came back with another man and told him I was going at Apple this summer and they were like: “what’s your wage, about 40$/hour?”. They were asking just to discuss so we discuss a little bit and that was nice. When I leave they told me good luck and work well. American customs officer are nice in fact 😊.
Let’s go to SF
I leave the place, find the Delta Airline window to ask for my boarding card. Everything went well, I go through security stuff and get my flight 20 minutes before the departure. Alright! I did it. I was happy 😉.
On the “road” to San Francisco
Where is Bryan? Bryan is in the plane
In the plane I met Bryan, a nice-american-highscool-economy-and-politics teacher. We talked about the Silicon Valley, SF, USA, France, Sport, Basketball playoff, a lot of stuff. He showed me a lot of things, that was very nice. Here is the view from the plane’s window I had crossing the border between Utah and Nevada (shot by Bryan #nofilter #instamoment):
Arriving at SF
We arrived at SF facing the North so we flew over the whole Silicon Valley. That was nice. Unfortunately, I have no picture of the view… Once there, Bryan and I picked up our luggage and went to the Bart train. There he told me how to go to the Caltrain, the train that goes from SF to San Jose through the Silicon Valley. I arrived at the Caltrain station at about 9:20PM. My train arrived at 10:05PM. I was cold. I finally make it to Lawrence station but… there was no Taxi to get me from there to my apartment and I had no Taxi phone number and no internet connection.
From Lawrence station to the flat
I asked for some help (once again) to a guy that was going back to his home with a Uber (which is legal in the US). He asked the driver if he could bring me to my flat then. The driver said yes and I came into the car. We dropped the guy off and then went to my flat. Claudio was so great with me, we talked about my internship, his job, the Silicon Valley, l’Olympique de Marseille (😂). He nicely offered me the trip once arrived at the residence. Thanks a lot dude, you saved my life!
The flat - A treasure hunt
Then I followed the instructions I’ve received to find my appartment, I screwed up first but then found it, came into, it was 00:02AM, and I was like 😮😵😲😶……😎. The flat is so great, they’ve prepared everything, the lights were turned on just as in “D&Co” TV show except that I was alone in the flat without Valerie. The TV was playing some Jazz music in the background. The bed was ready, the table was all set. It was perfect, here is some of the pictures I took after my first night (yeaah, I was too tired to take pictures when I arrived):
It was a long and hard and stressful trip but I finally get there and now the real stuffs can start! I won’t have any other as-long-as-this-one article in the future, I hope 😉. Congrats if you read me till there!