British students advised to take care in France

by Ray Clancy on September 9, 2013

British students heading to France to study this year are being advised to be ready for unforeseen events and plan ahead for problems.

UKstudyFRANCEMany thousands of British students arrive in France at this time of year, as part of exchange programmes, for 12 months as part of their degrees or independently.

UK consular staff say they should be prepared for the difficult situations as well as enjoying the richness of the country.

‘For the vast majority, this will be an amazing and life changing experience but every year 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,’ said a spokesman.

The first problems can arise in finding accommodation, for example, 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,’ said the spokesman.

He also pointed out that health cover is 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,’ he explained.

Students should also realise that if things go wrong they may need to be repatriated back to the UK so they need to make sure that their travel insurance cover these kinds of issues if they are 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 but will that be the case in France?’ say the Consular guidelines.

The advice also says to watch out for misunderstandings, especially in the first few weeks when language skills are poorer and adds that everyone should work at improving their French.

‘If you run into trouble, talk to someone about it. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. If you do run into trouble, we’ve got consulates in Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux that cover the whole of France,’ added the spokesman.

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