Whether you’ve chosen to experience the fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle of Paris, the glitzy sun-kissed beaches of the French Riviera, or the quaint cobblestoned streets of Bordeaux, there’s no doubt that a study abroad experience in France entails new, exciting, and out-of-the-world adventures for you! However, as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, we also do realise that the myriad of legal formalities, bank work, or even getting acquainted with the French language can make the move challenging, tedious, and overwhelming. But, worry not, we’ve got you!
Based on the experiences of international students that were once in your shoes, our study abroad specialists have compiled an all-in-one checklist for a smooth, hassle-free arrival in France. Here, you can anticipate a comprehensive list of tasks to complete upon your arrival to set the foundation to your upcoming months (or years) in France!
1. Activate a French SIM-Card
Did you know? French cities are full of intertwined and narrow streets that could easily make an amateur feel like they’re lost in a maze! Not to mention the complex local transportation routes of Paris or the irresistible urge you’ll have to share your exciting new French life on Facebook! If you haven’t guessed already, these are a handful of the hundred reasons to have a well-connected phone on yourself as soon as you arrive in France. Luckily, Movido has your back.
Skipping the complexity of which cellular provider to pick and all the hidden costs they withhold, choosing a local SIM card in your customisable Movido starter pack will allow you to use your phone as your flight touches ground in France. Including 20 GB of data in France and across Europe, having your SIM card sent to you in advance will ensure you can spend your first days in France are spent munching on buttery croissants instead of baffling around for the best SIM card deals.
2. Open a French Bank Account
Long story short: From finalising your housing contracts to registering for health insurance, you will require a French bank account to take care of all your expenses in France. Moreover, from grocery runs to a night out in the sparkling city, having a French payment card, you can avoid the need to carry bundles of cash.
Any international student in France holds the legal right to open a French bank account, and thankfully, the procedures are rather very straightforward. Just walk into the nearest bank and book an appointment with a client advisor.
Documents required for opening a bank account in France:
- Identification (Passport)
- Housing contract in France (If you have not finalised your accommodation, there lies a possibility of opening a bank account with the address of your educational institute)
- University enrolment certificate
Shortly after submitting the documents mentioned above, you will receive your bank card and chequebook. Using the RIB (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire) provided by the bank of your choice, you can pay for any monthly expenses (electricity, housing rent, mobile bills) and receive a salary when you land a job in the future.
Movido’s pro-tip: Before you pick a bank, make sure to go online and contrast what each bank offers. The fee for the debit card and cuts for foreign transfers can differ significantly from bank to bank.
3. Student Life and Campus Contribution (CVEC)
Pupils accepted to a French institution of higher learning are subjected to a fee recognised as the CVEC, which supports on-campus programs that enhance your student life experience! Note that this is mandatory and a one-time annual payment of 92 euros which can be paid online or in cash.
CVEC registration online:
- Register yourself at: messervices.etudiant.gouv.fr.
- Next, head to the specified CVEC website cvec.etudiant.gouv.fr.
- Fill in the details, such as the town and university you will study in, followed by the payment of the CVEC fee by debit or credit card.
CVEC payment at a post office:
- Register yourself at: messervices.etudiant.gouv.fr.
- Next, connect to the CVEC website cvec.etudiant.gouv.fr.
- Download a fee notice from the website.
- Make this payment at any nearby post office.
However you chose to pay, our tip is to download and preserve the proof of payment safely, as you will be required to present this during the time of registration at your university.
4. Validate your Long-Stay Visa
It is of primary importance to validate your visa as soon as you arrive in France. This procedure is mandatory for all non-EU and must be completed within the first three months (90 days) of your stay in French territory. Now, this might sound a little intimidating, but we’ve got some good news for you! Since February 2019, you can validate your VLS-TS Visa online.
Here are the steps to do so:
- With a valid email address, sign up to https://administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr
- Fill in the details required to validate your visa: visa number, date of issue and expiry, the reason for your stay in France
- Indicate your date of entry in France. This date must be identical to the one on the immigration stamp upon your arrival in France.
- Make a fee payment (50 euros) with a credit or debit card. If you do not have a bank account, an electronic stamp (timbré electronique) can be bought at your nearest kiosk.
Movido’s pro-tip: Once your VLS-TS visa has been validated, remember to download the confirmation proof you receive by mail. The validation will be essential when to renew your residency permit in the future (Carte de Séjour).
5. Register for Healthcare
Medical costs can be troublesome, and while the globetrotter in you sets out on an adventure in France, just in case you chip a tooth or are down with a cold, it is essential to be medically insured at all times. Moreover, this is a mandatory requirement for all International students in France.
If you are a European student and have an EU Insurance card, you are exempted from registering to France’s social security system.
For non-EU international students, you must register for a “Carte Vitale” (France’s social security card) to take advantage of medical reimbursements. The enrollment can be completed on Ameli.fr, a health insurance webpage precisely for international students in France: https://etudiant-etranger.ameli.fr/#/.
Movido’s pro-tip: While the registration is completely free of cost, it must be fulfilled soon after registering at your university and upon the validation of your long-stay visa.
6. Brush up on your French
Ugh…after the laundry list of administrative work you have had to complete, here’s a sigh of relief. Given the opportunity to study in a culture-soaked country like France, what better way to absorb this once in a lifetime experience than learning the French language? Whether you are walking to the boulangerie around the corner to pick up a panini before class or are making local friends at an exchange party, learning French is a skill that will remain with you for a lifetime. Here are Movido’s top 3 tips to get your French learning experience kickstarted:
- Start by familiarising yourself with the 300 most common words in French. Surprisingly, data reveals that by learning just 20% of the language’s vocabulary, you will readily comprehend 80% of daily conversations. Soon enough, we do not doubt that you’ll be able to place orders entirely in French at your favourite restaurant.
- They say old is gold, and this trick never fails. Watch and listen to French as much as possible. Whether you’re into fictional comics, sitcoms, or theatre, there is a wide selection of French media to choose from. Re-watch your favourite show with French subtitles, make notes and practise reciting phrases you find interesting, and you will be able to master that French accent!
- Find a study buddy. There are various sites online where native French speakers are willing to help you learn French in exchange for English or any other language you speak. Spanish, German, Russian, could be anything!