Living in France, Belgium, Switzerland or Martinique
One of the first steps to take when you arrive at your destination is to ensure that you register with the local authorities. The process is different depending on the French-speaking country where you will study. Below is a schematic look at each destination, and more information will be provided to you by the relevant host institutions and can also be obtained by consulting the general information websites listed at the end of this document.
- Belgium: you must apply for a Titre / Permis de séjour at the Municipality (and the police will visit you to confirm that you are living at the address stated on your application).
- France: only non-EU nationals need to apply for a Carte de séjour. If you are a non-EU national, then the card is obtained from the local Préfecture. Your host university will generally provide you with specific information on how to arrange an appointment and where to go. Rest assured that they are well used to International students and to this procedure.
- Martinique: As Martinique is officially part of France, only non-EU nationals need apply for a Carte de séjour. If you are a non-EU national, contact the Bureau des Relations Internationales on the university campus and notify them of your arrival and that you will need a Carte de séjour. The Bureau will normally contact the Préfecture on your behalf and an appointment will be organized. This process can take anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, so do no worry about delays, but do keep track of your application.
- Switzerland: you must apply for a Titre / Permis de séjour (Lausanne university will provide advice on this).
You will need to arrange your own accommodation (i.e. SML do NOT arrange this for you and are legally not allowed to do so). You are advised to begin looking for either university or private accommodation as soon as your receive notification from your host university/British Council that your application has been accepted. Below are some suggestions and useful tips in looking for accommodation.
- Students may receive some assistance in finding accommodation from the foreign International Office at their host university and/or via university accommodation websites, and assistants are likely to receive some help/advice from schools.
If you are applying for University Halls abroad, you may be asked to submit this application with your general university application form. Many universities do not guarantee a place in halls, so you should not take it for granted that you will get university accommodation.
If there is any medical reason why you feel you should be given university accommodation, then you should discuss this with your Bangor Year Abroad Tutor and also send all relevant medical certification and/or PLSP documents to the relevant contact person at the host university abroad. Please refer to the disability and support section on the SML website.
- If you are looking for private accommodation or do not get a place in halls, you may find that your university can still help. Use the relevant CROUS for further information (start from www.cnous.fr to find relevant CROUS website). Accommodation can also be organised through an agency (for a fee), such as www.studentaccommodationfrance.com (please note that this is a private website which is not monitored by the university – use at your own discretion).
- Be sure to check how much deposit you will need to pay in advance, and make sure you have enough cash to pay this when you arrive.
- Make sure you obtain a Certificat de domicile / Attestation de logement from your landlord / hostel authorities / school as soon as you move in. Insist that one is provided if it is not given automatically, because you will need this, e.g., for opening a bank account.
- Taxe d’habitation (France & Martinique): If you rent independently, you will have to pay taxe d’habitation. The rule seems to be that the leaseholder on Jan 1st of a given year will receive the bill for that year (c. €150). You are liable, so make sure you pay it (you will be chased up by the police if you do not).
- APL/ALS (France &; Martinique): If you pay more than a quarter of your income in rent, you may be eligible for reimbursement for some or all of the cost from the local authority, either the APL (allocation personalisée au logement) or the ALS (allocation de logement à caractère social). Apply at the local Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF), or you may be able to get CAF forms for students from the CRIJ (Centre Régional d’Information de Jeunesse). As well as your i.d. and your receipts (quittances) you should take your student card if you are a student. Payments are likely to take some time – perhaps two months – to arrive, and you may not receive a rebate on the first month.
- Each city has a different travel pass system. Make sure you sign up for student travel cards where possible.
- In Belgium, a good tip is to get hold of a Go Pass (for those aged under 26).
- In France, it is worth getting hold of SNCF’s Carte 12–25 (for those aged under 26).
- In Martinique, town bus systems vary but most have an ‘abonnement’ or season ticket and sometimes with student rates. The transport system in Martinique has its restrictions, so it is wise to check routes and times with the local ‘gare routière’ before renting accommodation.
- Internet provision will obviously vary depending on your type of placement. If you are not at university, you may have to use internet cafes; otherwise you will find that most public libraries will have some internet provision, as do some large bookshops.
- Above all else, stay in touch! Please refer to the ‘Support’ section the SML Year Abroad web page to see the ways in which keeping in touch with the various services (not least your personal tutor) can support you while abroad.
Useful Sources of General Information
- Useful website on living and working in Belgium, France and Switzerland: www.study-in-europe.org
- Useful website on living and working in France: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/studying-in-france/
- R. Cousins, R. Hallmark and I. Pickup, Studying and Working in France (Manchester: MUP, 2007)
- For students: university websites (see links from SML webpage).
- For assistants: http://www.britishcouncil.org/languageassistants-ela.htm
- Belgium: General emergency number is 112; Police or ambulance service 101; Fire service 100.
- France: General emergency number is 112; SAMU (ambulance service) 15; Police 17; Fire service 18.
- Switzerland: General emergency number is 112; Police 117; Fire service 118; Medical emergencies 144; Traffic incidents 140.
- Canada: 911 for all emergency services.
Dr Sian Beidas and/or Dr Christie Margrave, French Studies, School of Modern Languages, Bangor University, College Road, BANGOR, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG