Ah, Paris! The City of Love for many tourists but for many students the city of infinite knowledge. As a student, moving away from home and going abroad to a university in Paris, université as the French call it, can be an exciting but daunting prospect. Well hopefully with the following tips it will be nothing but fun!
Be ready for a ridiculous amount of paperwork. In fact, before leaving home make multiple copies of every document relating to your education and life thus far. The French love the dossier , essentially a collection of every written official document concerning your existence on this earth, and it has to be complet.
At least 8 months before the beginning of the school year, you should start scouting the potential universities that might be of interest to you. All universities require foreigners to complete a B2 level test as part of admissions, so get on to that as soon as possible; your birth certificate and high school diploma need to be translated and printed out.
Registration begins in March on the APB.fr website, where you must upload your dossier and should pick at least six schools for a to maximize your chances to getting into one. It is essentially a lottery, but you’re winning an education, not money.
Once the tedious paperwork is finished, then comes the hard part, the accommodation.
Finding an apartment in Paris can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack (in which there are no needles), but I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that I’m willing to share. You are going to need that dossier again (I told you to make multiple copies) and add some new material to it. First of all, you are going to need a garant, essentially a letter from your parents promising to pay all your fees, housing in particular, since you are a poor student with no reliable income.
Online websites will become your new best friends. Paris is pricy but with a bit of perseverance and sacrifice (flat sharing), you’ll find your new home in no time. Remember, if you get through the selection process you’ll need to make a decision immediately, and it’s first come, first served. Fortunately, there are websites, such as LODGIS.com, are here to help you finding your dream studio a snap.
So you’ve got into your school and settled into your new bachelor/bachelorette pad: congratulations! Do not throw away that last copy of your dossier though, you’ll need it to open a bank account to pay for the studio and the school fees. One of the best things about Paris is that a good school is almost never expensive, and being a student comes with loads of discounts on things like transport, museums and fast-food menus.
Plus, if things get really tight, ALL students, including foreigners, are eligible for the CAF government aid. Isn’t life sweet?
Bienvenue à Paris, my friend!.