Hello everyone! My name is Chanté, and I am an ACES alumni student currently in Caen, France, doing an Erasmus year abroad. Soon I’ll be doing a little blog to share my experience of life abroad as an Erasmus student, but before I kick off, having now been here a month, I’ve done a quick list of tips for starting your year abroad in France. Here we go!
1. Photocopy EVERYTHING. Multiple times.
By that I mean pretty much any and every form to do with your year abroad! Also, leave one copy of everything with your parents at home; should you lose anything, they’ll then have a copy to send through to you.
2. Bring a couple of passport photos with you everywhere you go.
Here in France photos are used much more frequently than they are in England. You put them on your CV and many other forms, so before you leave, make sure you have a stash and keep a few in your purse/wallet.
3. Bring enough euros (in cash) to last you 2-3 weeks.
You may have some fairly hefty sums to pay on arrival, (room deposits etc.) so ensure you’re covered. It may also take you a little while to get round to opening a bank account and in the meantime, paying for things with your UK bank card, bank depending, is likely to cause you to incur charges.
Speaking of banks…
4. Warn your UK bank you’ll be travelling.
If you do use your UK card whilst you’re abroad, which is inevitable in the first few weeks, you don’t want to come to find it’s been blocked as you didn’t tell your bank you were jetting off.
5. Luggage space and manoeuvrability permitting, bring a little all-in-one printer. Your life will be a thousand times easier.
In the first weeks you’ll have approximately a billion and one forms to complete, and many of these will need signatures from people on both sides of The Channel. You’ll also probably have to do a fair bit of photocopying, and whilst your university abroad will more than likely have a computer room, it is much easier, much less stressful and much quicker to get all your admin done if you can do it all from the comfort of your own room.
6. Get your birth certificate officially translated. (Optional)
I was lucky in the fact that as a part of my year abroad preparation module in second year, we translated our birth certificates and A-Level certificates and had them officially stamped by the French coordinator at our university. You may be able to get by using your English copy, but having it in French may just make things slightly less complicated. Ask your home university if they would be able to help.
7. Put some films / TV shows on your laptop.
It’s unlikely that you’ll have internet in your room from day one, (I had to wait almost a week and thus am now very familiar with the walls of my room!) and whilst you will spend a lot of time in the first few days exploring and meeting people, at the end of the day when you’re in your room, it’s good to have something to watch! (Also, be prepared to find a place with Wi-Fi you can go to check your university emails – McDonald’s literally became my second home!)
8. A given, but bring some home comforts.
Whilst I’m definitely embracing a new culture, there is no way I would be surviving without these!
I hope these have been a little bit helpful! Feel free to pop back and read another post soon!