Ready to study in France but don’t know what to do? Check out below to see where to start and what you need!
CHOOSING A SCHOOL
It’s not easy choosing a school when considering to study in France. This will be your most important decision as you want the best ROI from your education. My research process took 3 years. That’s right! 3 whole years and a visit to France. First, you’d want to consider whether to enroll in a public university or a private school. French public universities are cheaper as it is funded by the French government, but you may require at least French B1 to attend. That’s where private schools come in! How? Well, most only require English. Although quite expensive (€12,000+), you get your money’s worth since the education standard is higher as it’s more ‘elite.’ It is also more competitive so be prepared to work hard to get in.
Apart from choosing the school, location is next in line. I suggest weighing the pros and cons as choosing smaller towns can be a bit lonely and living in major cities means higher cost of living. Also, consider ease of transportation to airport and train stations for a hassle-free lifestyle for travelling.
My advice is to start researching a year or two in advance and if possible, visit the city before taking the big leap. Vacation anyone?
Next up, application process. It’s quite a daunting task to complete by the specific deadline. Applications for the next year are usually out by October/November so I recommend applying then. Every school has different application procedures, but most require:
- Latest Diplomas
- Recommendation Letters
- Application Essays
I took 2 months to write my application essays and had it proofread by at least 3 people. I advise to take time writing this as it makes or breaks your application. The interview is usually quite simple, and it is considered more like a ‘Get to Know You’ interview versus a job interview. I am speaking solely from my experience so don’t be afraid to research further based on your school.
You have three choices of accommodation in France:
- Living Alone – freedom of space but it can be a bit boring
- Student Residence – great option but it’s sometimes smaller and more expensive
- Flatsharing – cheapest option with more amenities but be prepared to share these amenities with a couple more people or your landlord
I suggest choosing somewhere where you think you’d be most comfortable and could call home for a year. Rent prices vary by city but the most expensive regions include: Ile-de-France & Provence-Alpes-Cote D’azur.
VISA PROCEDURE (T&T CITIZENS)
You’ve found a school; you’ve found a place to stay. Now what? Well, welcome to the most dreaded part of this blog post. The visa procedure. As a T&T citizen, we’ve been blessed with the honor of being visa-free for all Schengen countries. (Thanks Mr. Prime Minister)
However, it’s a blessing turned curse as the French Consulate moved to the lovely island of St. Lucia. What does this mean for you? Well, this means an all-in-one holiday and business trip. There’s no way of getting out of this one! You must be present at the embassy in St. Lucia to apply for your French study visa.
You must book your visa appointment 3 months before your expected departure date. See the list of documents required here. I advise gathering all documents at least 1 or 2 months before you book your appointment. Photocopy & label everything!
I booked my appointment in March for April and I stayed in St. Lucia for 3 days at the Coco Palm Resort Hotel. The embassy is located near the airport. The appointment took around 30-40 minutes and I had no interview. Within two weeks, I received a response via email and needed to post my passport to St. Lucia to get the visa.
READY TO GO!
Now, what to pack? what to leave? I could advise you to pack everything you own (like me) but that is bad advice. Truth be told, you don’t need everything. Pack the essentials as after a year you may need to move again, and it will be stressful. *stares at my 7 suitcases*
For T&T citizens, I suggest packing some Trini foods/snacks because they are very difficult to find here in France.
- Pigeon Peas
- Cream of Corn
- Matouk’s Guava Jam
- Pepper Sauce (You need it, trust me!)
- Jerk seasoning
Don’t forget to pack all administrative documents (photocopies & original). You will need to translate some documents like your Birth Certificate. I recommend Alliance Française as it is cheaper than France.
I hope this post was helpful to guide you through the process. If you would like some additional details regarding documents for administrative procedures in France, then click here.
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