What do you think of when you think of France? The Eiffel Tower? Croissants? La vie en rose? All of these features are fantastic for a weekend visit, but if you would like to live or study in France, you’re going to need to learn a bit more about France as a whole.
You may have heard the clichéd saying that everyone else lives to work whereas the French work to live, but this is actually close to the truth. The French (and their laws and customs) want to ensure that people enjoy life, and don’t struggle to get their basic needs met. For example, anyone legally living in France is able to receive money from the French government to help pay for living costs, even if you’re an international student.
In addition to this, there are many student organisations that give out free food, clothes, general advice and even free tickets for shows to any and all students in the country. All you need is a student card.
So let’s take a look at everything you need to know to study in France.
How To Study In France
Starting with how you actually study in France, it can seem a lot more complicated than things need to be. But, if your lifelong goal is to live in France, even for a few years, you should be prepared for the infamous French bureaucracy and how to understand the system. Unfortunately, the only real way of understanding the system is to be a part of and experience it firsthand, but effectively you should follow all instructions to the comma.
This leads us on to the criteria you need to meet to study in France. This criteria differs depending on which country you come from and whether you’re eligible for certain academic programmes such as Erasmus, but generally to enrol into university in France, no matter which course you’re enrolling on, you must have B2 level in French.
B2 Level in French
So what does this mean if you want to study in France? Well, B2 proficiency in a foreign language is generally considered the lowest level of fluency. The levels go from A1 – basic phrases and greetings – to C2 – more philosophical and use of specific terminology. This may seem daunting, but it is completely doable in one year of studying French, without ever learning it before.
How to get B2 Level in French
Not only are there popular and engaging language apps, like Duolingo, that you can download to learn languages, but you can also learn a language in the country that speaks it. That’s right, there are universities in France that offer French language courses for foreigners of all ages.
If you don’t have B2 level in French, enrolling in the DUEF course, offered by many universities in France, will mean you are a university student in France, and therefore are eligible for all the other rights afforded to students who are doing Bachelor (the French call it a Licence so we will refer to it as such), Master or Doctorate degrees. All you have to do is pick a city. Upon obtaining B2 level in French, you are now eligible to enrol in a Licence, or a Master degree. You can also look for online classes in French if this is your preference.
Be warned, unlike many other European countries, France doesn’t have a high percentage of the population who speak English, and so if you were to try and ask for something in English it would likely be better to simply point and mime. This is why speaking French in France is so important.
Prices and Banks in France
Assuming you’ve been accepted to a course, found a living space and now have your visa, it’s time to talk about money. if you want to study in France, you need to be able to fund it.
University Fees in France
In France, depending on the university, the prices for international students are staggeringly low. At state universities, the price for one year of a Licence is around 300€, and the prices for Master and Doctorate are similar, albeit a little higher. Straight away, that’s great news as it is extremely affordable university education. For the French course for foreigners (DUEF) generally that can be between 3000€ and 5000€ per year, which is still fairly cheap in comparison to other countries.
Prices for apartments of course differ depending on location, but be wary of some small cities with huge student populations. Cities like Angers have more students in their university than apartments in the city, and so finding a place to stay is very difficult, especially from abroad and only looking online. Given this, be wary of scam artists online who ask for payment in advance with little to no guarantee – they prey on a student’s naivety and desperation.
How to Open a Bank Account in France
When you study in France, in order to pay your rent and bills etc. you will need a French bank account. In France, to have a bank account you actually pay the bank a small fee, maybe 14€, every month to have an account with them, so if this custom seems strange to you be prepared for it. It’s recommended to use one of the main French banks, such as Banque Populaire. To open an account, you will need your passport, visa and apartment or lodging contract. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, follow all of the instructions to the comma or else you might not be accepted.
Benefits of Living in France
As mentioned before, if you study in France, you are eligible to receive money from the French government. To do this, you will need to visit the CAF office in your city or apply directly on the CAF website. Here you answer questions based on your situation and you will receive an answer in the next few weeks or months, depending on how you interpreted their instructions.
As a student, you are also able to take advantage of the student organisation COP1, who, if you follow the instagram account of their specific branch in your city, give out free food, clothes, event tickets and so much more! It’s definitely something you should take advantage of.
Study in France
Now it’s up to you to study in France. You should have your feet set into foreign soil. Remember to validate your visa, if you have one, and sign up to the French health system, or else you will have to pay without a refund (French healthcare is free, but you pay the doctor and claim back the money from the government).
But most of all, remember to enjoy yourself. Living and studying abroad is always a great experience, no matter which country you decide to go to. Pick up the culture of the country, the city, the people, and grow as a person. There are also many other incredible opportunities to live and study abroad, if you want to learn more, click here!