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Have fun and stay safe, British Embassy Paris tells students in France

Many thousands of British students come to France to study every year, either in an exchange programme such as Erasmus, or independently.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Students - Credits: Mcaretaker - Creative Commons license
Students - Credits: Mcaretaker - Creative Commons license

For the vast majority, this will be an amazing and life-changing experience.

Every year, however, Consular staff are approached by students who are having a tough time. Unforeseen events happen all the time, of course, but prior planning can often make a real difference when problems crop up.

We’ve talked to UK Consular staff around France and used their experience with real-life difficulties and tragedies to put together tips for exchange students:

Our top tips

  • Renting a flat? If you’re asked to pay a deposit by cash money transfer, be wary - does the flat actually exist? We talk to people every year who have been a victim of scams like this one.
  • What about health cover? It’s not free in France. You’ll need your European Health Insurance Card to get a Carte Vitale, and you should get top-up insurance too. Talk to the French university about this. Don’t wait until you’re ill, as you may have to pay for your medical costs up front.
  • If things go wrong, you may need to be repatriated back to the UK. Does your travel insurance cover that if you’re on an exchange programme?
  • You’ll be meeting new people and making new friends, and that’s one of the reasons to study abroad. But stay safe when you go out! Back home, your friends will make sure you get home safely – is that the case here?
  • Alcohol. We’re not going to tell you not to drink (that probably won’t work!) But do make sure that you drink sensibly.
  • Watch out for misunderstandings – does that bloke (or girl) understand what you’re saying? Does he (or she) understand that you’ve said no?
  • A big city is a big city, even when it’s “une grande ville”. Remain vigilant and use common sense, just as you would at home. Don’t carry your passport on you.
  • Draw up a budget and stick to it. You may have more euros than pounds, but they’ll go just as fast.
  • Learn some French! You’ll have more fun, and easily gain another skill too.
  • If you run into trouble, talk to someone about it. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed.

Where can you find more?

If things go wrong

If you do run into trouble, we’ve got consulates in Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux that cover the whole of France. Call us on +33 144 513 100 (24hrs a day, 7 days a week). We can’t help you pay your rent or find a job though!

Published 5 September 2013