As an 18 years old boy I decided: I am joining the French Foreign Legion, the most notorious part of the French Army. Notorious. Well, that’s what I thought back then.
Before finishing the high school I’d already have my plane tickets to Paris and a plan in my head. During the years many people asked me why I joined the Legion.
Even 5 years later, at the end of my first contract I still couldn’t give a clear answer. Until my 18th birthday, I wanted to become a history teacher at a university…
During my studies I must read some stuffs about the armies of the world.
That was in 2011 the first time when I heard about the French Foreign Legion. It wasn’t even really interesting until I saw a film of 3°REI (3° Foreign Infantry Regiment, based in French Guyana).
That was the first time I thought that I want to become as badass as the guys in the film.
Joining the French Foreign Legion?
Naturally, it wasn’t too serious at the beginning.
But later, things changed and I got more interested in becoming a soldier. Not a legionnaire, a soldier in my country. I asked my uncle – a police officer – how it goes in the army, because I want to try myself as a soldier. I wasn’t impassioned by the things he said. And I asked him, what about the Legion? That was something else.
He already worked with them in Ex-Yugoslavia and told me, if you want to do something, do it well. This phrase made me more interested in joining the famous French Foreign Legion.
It wasn’t him who convinced me. I always said, it was my destiny who really decided to make the biggest step of my life. Naturally, my lovely Grandmother wanted to kick my destiny (and my uncle) in the arse when I told her what I wanted to do.
I arrived in the capital of France
for the first time in my life. I only had a sheet of paper in my hand with the needed instructions to reach my destination. The Fort de Nogent, the Parisian base of the French Foreign Legion.
I got quickly lost in the metro, and had no any idea where am I. I have already spent at least 3 hours looking for the fortress and became pretty stressful. Finally (and blissfully) I got a sight of a small part of an old building behind the trees.
Fortunately, before going to France I watched many videos of the Legion and I was able to recognize the fortress. The sun was already going down and I have already prepared myself to sleep outside because I’ve heard if somebody arrives too late, they don’t let him in.
As arrived, I told the guardian all the French words I knew
Je veux m’enganger à la Légion Etrangère. – I want to join the French Foreign Legion.
I had a chance and they left me in. I directly had to show them if I’m able to do 6 pull ups at least. They took away all of my papers, passport, ID card and bank card. I got a sport uniform – a jogging and a pull-over – and a bed.
The next day I needed to fill out some papers with different questions.
Basic stuffs like
- do you have siblings
- did somebody ever have cancer in your family
- what did you study
- what was your profession
But also some questions like
- have you ever wanted to commit suicide
- did you ever commit homicide
- are you gay etc../
During the day other candidates arrived. Like a Russian guy with a nice suit, briefcase and with every belongings of a real businessman. Probably he didn’t know that nobody will care about. In the French Foreign Legion everyone is equal even wether you have money or not.
The guy had travelled 12 hours that day and was too tired (or weak) to do the minimum pull-ups (4). I think it wasn’t the first time that the caporal-chef saw someone like him. So he accompanied him to the gates and probably he turned back with the first plane to Russia.
The next day a doctor examined us to see if all everythin is okay. However, I was pretty surprised when he asked me to pull my underwear down and checked my balls…
The day when I signed my pre-contract
From this day you are already earning some money and get it if you don’t get in. So even those who didn’t take cash to return in their country have some money to buy a plane ticket if necessary.
I stood in line with the people who passed the pre-selection and talked with an American. Suddenly, somebody started to laugh in the room where we signed the contract. Just a bit later we found out what happened. The guy from an Africain country before us in the line should have signed his paper, but just drew a cross on it and went out of the room.
Right after the caporal-chef called him back and asked him to write a simple phrase down like “today is Friday”. He was an illiterate so he only drew another cross and had to leave Fort-de-Nogent within a few minutes. Naturally, his “signed” contract finished in the rubbish.
The next week, those who passed their first tests and interviews went down to Aubagne (South France) by TGV to continue the pre-selection to join the French Foreign Legion.