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France
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Graduate Studies, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Rue d'Ulm - Year


This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.

Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
 
 
 
 
 
Academic Information
Program Overview
Select Host Institutions on the program page to learn more about ENS.
 
Academic Culture
You will find that your studies at ENS are characterized by independence. Your tutor will help you develop a study program that allows you to develop a your own personalized academic plan for your semester or year abroad. The goal of ENS is to help students develop into true researchers. The School's training is designed to fulfill this aim through research seminars and teaching staff of lecturer-researchers who are foreign scholars of international renown.
 
Humanities and social science students are strongly encouraged to see their training in inter-disciplinary terms. Academic programs are designed to allow every student the chance to explore their subject to its very limits. This inter-disciplinary approach is in line with the new opportunities of modern research.
 

 

Libraries

The twelve libraries are situated at rue d'Ulm, on the Jourdan campus, at Montague, and in the School's departments. They are open from 9am to 6pm or 7pm and their computerized records are available to the teaching departments and research units. Former students have life-long access to the libraries, which are used by national and international researchers at the doctorate level and beyond.

 

Grades

For detailed information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
 
Course Information
This program is designed for graduate students. Student status and integration varies according to need and the proposed research.
 
You may take courses and do research in natural and physical sciences, humanities (antiquity, classics, foreign literature, French literature: Middle Ages, and 18th to 19th century), geography (contemporary problems in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the environment), and social sciences.
 
It is essential that you fully integrate into the life and intellectual activities of the school. You can do this in various ways, including enrolling in seminars, giving some formal academic lectures, and accomplishing a major piece of academic work under supervision.
 
You will be assigned a faculty tutor in your discipline or field who will assist in matching you with the appropriate seminars, establishing connections outside the school to facilitate research, and finding the research documentation needed to undertake the work.
 
Requirements
You are expected to participate in at least one or two ENS seminars and to produce a substantial paper or research report by the end of the year. You must have enough knowledge of French upon arrival to understand what is being said in seminars, communicate with officials, and do research. You may continue to perfect your French during the year through ENS-arranged courses.
 
Your unit requirements are determined by your Graduate Student Agreement and decided upon by your graduate advisor.
 
Extending UCEAP Participation
 
 
Cultural Awareness
Educate Yourself
 
Etiquette
 
Concealment Act
The French Concealment Act prohibits the wearing of the full-face veil in public places in the territory of the French Republic. However, hijabs are very common and unlikely to lead to any specific harassment in France. Students wearing hijabs in France may encounter stares, though not likely any outright hostility. If you encounter any kind of hostility, contact the UC Study Center staff immediately.
 
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation

 

Your program begins at a predetermined place, time, and date. If you fail to appear on the Official Program Start Date, you are subject to dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10). The Official Program Start Date is provided in the program calendar, which you can access via your Participants program page. You can find more detailed arrival information on the Arrival Information sheet in the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist.

 

There will not be an orientation run by UCEAP for this program. You will attend the ENS orientation. ENS will provide you with the date, time, and location of their orientation.

Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country
 
 
 
Travel Documents
 
 
 
Packing Tips
 
 
 
 
Return Travel
 
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances

Your MyEAP Account & Budget
 
 
Handling Money Abroad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

ENS

Inquire at the Study Center for recommendations about opening a bank account in Paris.
 

Sciences Po

If you are a year student, Sciences Po will invite local bank representatives to meet with you during the Welcome Programme. These representatives will help you open a bank account. Students have also found that the post office, La Poste, offers checking accounts with cheaper fees than a commercial bank. Due to the short duration of the spring program, you may not be able to open a bank account.
 

UC Center

Due to the short duration of the program, you may not open a bank account. Neither ACCENT nor the Study Center can facilitate the process. You are advised to access money from abroad using your ATM card.
 

Late Withdrawal Penalties & Fees
 

UC Center

In addition to UCEAP penalties, ACCENT will charge withdrawal penalties based on the withdrawal date. Refer to your online Student Budget and the online Predeparture Checklist for more information. The effective withdrawal date is the date that ACCENT is notified of the withdrawal. It is important that your Campus EAP Advisor notify the UCEAP Systemwide Office of the withdrawal immediately.
Communications Abroad
Internet Access
 

UC Center

You will have access to the ACCENT Center, which is in the same courtyard as the Study Center. You can sign up for three 1-hour slots per week to use the Apple computer lab. You can do academic work at the Study Center, either on the computer workstations or on personal laptops. You also have access to printing and photocopying facilities in the ACCENT Center. It is highly recommended that you take a laptop because a decent amount of course material will be online. If you do not take a laptop, you will have access to all materials through the workstations.
 

ENS Paris (Rue d’Ulm)

You will have free access to computers and e-mail at rue d’Ulm. Limited Internet access is also available.
 
Phones
 
You will be informed about renting or purchasing a cell phone during your orientation in Paris. You may also set up an individual phone line in your apartment. Most students purchase cell phones while in France, or use their current cell phone but swap out the SIM card to access a more-inexpensive local plan than that offered by their US-based provider. 
 
Mail & Shipments
 

Mail

Have mail sent to your private address once you are settled in your permanent residence.
 
 
Program-Specific Information
Housing & Meals
Where Will I Live?

ENS (Rue d’Ulm)

You are responsible for room and board costs and will use an agency to find lodging. You will most likely be required to pay a one- or two-month rental deposit in advance. This is returned within one month after you move out, depending on the condition of the apartment. ENS can also provide you with dormitory housing for approximately €230 per month. Many students have housing included as part of their stipend.
 
If you do not secure housing before you arrive in Paris, the most pressing concern upon arrival may be locating permanent housing. The Study Center staff is available for advice on apartment searching in Paris to help you locate desirable neighborhoods, learn specialized vocabulary, and feel more comfortable dealing with leases and making payments for deposits, rent, telephones, and utilities. Be flexible in all of your expectations, especially with respect to location, space, and price, and be prepared to spend time finding a more suitable place. Many accommodations lack the familiar conveniences of home. Parisian apartments are notoriously small and expensive, especially in the city center.
 
Before beginning the housing search, assess your priorities:
  • Is it more important to live in one of the expensive areas or to have more space but live further from the center of Paris?
  • If your budget is tight, can you live with a toilet or shower down the hall?
  • Can you share with another person to lower the cost of rent?
  • Are you willing to live with a family, or is personal freedom important?
Students often ask about the best neighborhoods: Paris is divided into 20 districts, or arrondissements. All the arrondissements have interesting parts to explore. Familiarize yourself with the different neighborhoods and search the Internet prior to arrival. Choosing a neighborhood is a question of personal taste; however, generally the farther away from the center and to the east, the cheaper the rent. Still, you are encouraged to take an apartment within Paris, rather than out in the suburbs, to allow for participation in Parisian evening cultural events. Although the suburbs may seem less expensive up front, there are hidden costs such as transportation and travel time. Be mindful that during transportation strikes, it will be difficult to walk to class if you are living outside of the city.

Rent Payment

In addition to rent, you are responsible for housing expenses such as cleaning, utilities, and phone bills that are charged after the program is over. If you fail to pay such bills, your UC course registration and ability to obtain UC transcripts will be blocked upon return to the U.S. You pay your own housing throughout the program.

Renting Apartments in France

To rent an apartment, one normally must have enough funds available upon arrival in France to cover:
 
  • the equivalent of one months’ rent for a security deposit
  • taxe d’habitation, if you will be the renter of the apartment on January 1 of a given year
  • renter’s insurance (if not included in your program’s UCEAP fees)
  • possible agency fees
  • first month’s rent
 
 

Renter’s Insurance

Under French law, you are required to have renter’s insurance, which can cost from €80 to €140 for the year. This insurance covers fire, water damage, accidents, and theft (only from your home). Review the UCEAP Student Budget online to determine if the renter’s insurance is included in your UCEAP fees. If it is not, you will be required to pay for the insurance out of pocket once in France.
 
Meals
The most economical options are to eat at university cafeterias, restaurants universitaires, or to shop and cook for oneself. When choosing an apartment or private room to rent, ensure that you will have access to full kitchen facilities. Be prepared to make some of your own meals. Food is also available at the many small shops and bakeries near the university, or at the university restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner.
 
 
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
 
 
 
Extracurricular Activities
 
Students with Disabilities
​In France, accessibility and accommodation for individuals with disabilities are very different from what you find in the United States. French law requires that any new building with public or community space and any existing public building be accessible for persons with disabilities. However, many existing buildings, as well as transportation systems, do not yet meet these requirements.
 
Getting around in French cities may be difficult at times. Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets make access difficult, but the major tourist areas have better facilities. Although the Paris Metro is a very efficient method for traveling throughout central Paris, most stations are not readily accessible for people with disabilities. Very few stations have elevators and most have stairways and long corridors for changing trains or exiting to the street. However, many Parisian buses and tramways are equipped with lowering platforms for travelers with limited-mobility, or who are sight- or hearing-disabled. Taxis are also a good mode of transportation.
 
An English-language Paris Visitors Bureau website and a French-language, government-sponsored website (Service d’information sur l’accessibilité des transports en Ile-de-France) contain additional information and include links to a downloadable local transportation map specifically designed for travelers with special mobility needs. There are many other resources available on the internet for disabled persons traveling to, or living in, France. For further information, e-mail any U.S. consular offices.
Travel Sign-out Form
 
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Working in France
Only students in the Lyon immersion and Sciences Po, Paris programs may legally work in France. French law dictates that international students have the right to work while studying in France as long as they are enrolled in an institution that participates in the national student health care plan. Students who are not EU citizens must also hold a valid titre de séjour (see the Travel Documents section of this guide for details). It may take four months or more to receive your titre de séjour after your arrival in France, so working may be more feasible for year-long students.
 
The law allows students to work 964 hours in a given year, which corresponds to 50% of full-time employment for the year (approximately 20 hours per week). Your work schedule should not interfere with your class schedule and coursework.
 
If you decide to work abroad, do not rely on that source of income to subsidize the UCEAP program; you must have other means of support. Student jobs are difficult to find, especially for foreigners, and even more so if you are not fluent in French. A few students in the past have found jobs teaching English and babysitting.
 
Contact the French consulate for more information about working abroad and applicable visa requirements.
 
Volunteer Opportunities
 
Insurance
UCEAP Insurance
 
French National Health Insurance
 
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
 
Physical Health

​It is important to know your physical limitations. Traveling is exciting and enjoyable, but can also be tiring.  Adjusting to a different climate or altitude, adapting to new time zones, and changing your regular, day-to-day routine can be stressful.  Fatigue can take a toll on your body and also make you more susceptible to injury or illness.

Properly preparing before you leave and staying in good health while abroad can help you to have an enjoyable, successful, and rewarding experience. When you travel abroad, you leave behind the United States support systems, emergency service capabilities and medical facilities.
 

Tips:

  • If you have a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before departure.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Get sufficient rest.
  • If your new location and activities will involve an increase to your usual physical activity, such as a lot of walking, gradually build up your fitness (after receiving clearance from your doctor) weeks, or preferably months, before you depart.
  • Know who to call if you get sick.  Print your UCEAP insurance card.
Prescription Medications
 
Mental Health
 
Health Risks
​Health concerns related to food and beverages are minimal.
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk
 
Crime & Prevention
 
Civil Unrest
 
Traffic & Transportation Safety

 

Substance Abuse
 
Police
 
UCEAP Contingency Planning
 
 
Fire Safety
 
 
In An Emergency
 
 
 
 
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* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.