Don’t believe it! Take Ernest Hemingway’s word – with a small alteration - on this,
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man or woman, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
If you are ready to experience Paris as an international student, you ought to give the following a thorough read.
Apart from the fact that it is a world-famous cultural hub, Paris is a wonderfully unique city. Here are a few reasons why you might want to engage in a love affair with Good Old Paris.
The countless places to visit - Whether you’re on a class trip or exploration expeditions of your own, there is plenty to see in Paris. The Lourve, Musee d’Orsay, Musee Rodin, Carnavalet Museum, Hotel de Ville, Centre Georges Pompidou and The Eiffel Tower are just a few places to whet your cultural appetite.
The Commitment to Knowledge - When you have the likes of Voltaire and Rousseau to inspire you, and libraries like the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve to study in, education becomes more of a fun filled exercise than a chore.
For all the Foodies out there! - With French wines and cheeses to keep you company, along with baguettes, macaroons and the finest chocolates, rest assured if you have an appetite, Paris will take care of it.
Entertainment - Besides the cinemas and theme parks, Paris is also home to the grand L’Opera Garnier, for the artistically inclined, Stade De France, for the football – not soccer! - fans and of course, the chic bars and clubs, for those fun night outs.
Art All Around - Paris takes its art seriously. From paintings, musicians, grand architecture and the famous Paris Fashion Week, this city is the Promised Land for those who appreciate art and artists.
Famous Universities in Paris
Paris is home to a number of renowned universities. A few of them are listed here:
Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris (ENS Paris) - Within walking distance from the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Jarin du Luxembourg, this university is specifically known for its departments of humanities and science. ENS Paris is also home to an alumni community that includes 12 Nobel Prize winners.
Pantheon-Sorbonne University - Also referred to as Paris 1, this university is a descendent of the University of Paris, which ceased to exist in 1970. With over 40,000 students enrolled, Ecole Normale Superieure has five institutes that teach law, economics, political science, management and humanities.
Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts - For those who want to study art, Paris is the place to be. The programs at this university are typically 5 years long and all classes are divided into three parts - Artistic Practices, Theories of Art and Technical Workshops. The school is home to a collection that includes works from Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Michelangelo.
Conservatoire de Paris – Specializing in drama, dance and music, this institute was founded in 1795 and now educates almost 1500 students with 350 members of faculty. Many incredible musicians and actors have graduated from this school. Some of them are Claude Debussy, Edward MacDowell and Brigitte Bardot.
Ecole Polytechnique Paris Tech - Known for providing world-class education in the engineering discipline, the curriculum at Ecole Polytechnique Paris Tech is rigorous and divided into 4 years.
The Paris Weather
For students coming in from the US or Canada, the Paris weather may be a little different. Even though its latitude is roughly the same as Vancouver, Paris benefits from a temperate climate as a result of the warming effects of the Gulf Stream. The weather in Paris can be unpredictable. Make sure you have a jacket on hand for cooler days, whereas light t-shirts or maxi dresses are good for the more pleasant summer days. The hottest month would be July and the coldest time of the year would be January for Parisians.
The Parisian transportation network includes the Metro, RER, Night Bus and Tramway. If you plan to travel within Paris and its suburbs, the RATP network is for you, whereas for travelling to other cities, Voyages SNCF is the way to go. The Parisian transport system is divided into three zones and the fares depend on the number of zones you travel in. Following are some of the options you can choose:
Metro – Fast and easy, the Metro has many connections
Train - With 6 main train stations in the city, there might be a bit of walking involved
R.E.R - The express train for Paris is faster than the Metro. It also has fewer stops than the Metro and operates on 5 lines in total
Buses - Depending on the time of day, students have access to buses at every 5-15 minute intervals
Taxis - This is recommended if you are travelling late at night. Make sure you only hire licensed cabs
Residence Options for International Students in Paris
One of the biggest concerns international students have when studying abroad is where they are going to live.
Following are some of the options:
Halls of Residence - In Paris, these are managed by the entre régional des œuvres universitaires (C.R.O.U.S. – Regional students’ welfare office) and are classified as the cheapest accommodations for students. However, places are limited and priority is given to students who hold scholarships from the French government.
Private Student Halls of Residence - These are slightly more expensive than the above and typically more comfortable as well. To get accommodation here, you must justify your income and present a guarantor. You can also think about flat-sharing or living with a French family to avoid high rent.
CROUS “logement en ville” (housing in the city) Services - CROUS acts as an intermediary between property owners and students to assist in letting of rooms, studio apartments or two-roomed flats. Under this arrangement, students are offered flats or flat-shares on the basis of scholarships.
Assistance in Paying Rent - The allocation de logement sociale (A.L.S. - social housing allowance) and the aide personnalisée au logement (A.P.L. - personalized housing allowance) may be allocated to international students with a valid residence permit. The amount of these allowances can be calculated on the Caisse d’allocation familiale (C.A.F - family allowance office) website.
Quick Tip - You might want to know a bit about Parisians before you head on to study abroad in Paris. They are big on formalities and etiquettes – the way they talk, act, dress, greet others, eat etc. As in any part of the world, being polite, formal and courteous can earn you many friends.
According to American standards, this behavior might get classified as uptight or prudish, but when in Paris, do as the Parisians do.
For instance, always greet the store clerk with a “bonjour!” or “bonsoir!”. Say “merci” whenever the occasion calls for it and adding that extra “Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle” will only earn you approving glances. Plus, not eating while walking down the street and not hugging your French friends every time you meet, can help you blend in.
But once you blend in, there is no place better you’d want to be. With that thought, hope to see you soon in the City of Love. Till then, amis adieu!