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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.
As an applicant for Sciences Po, you should have a solid background in political science or related field of study and be prepared to devote all of your time to the curriculum of the school. The academic program at Sciences Po explores a number of questions facing European societies and compares contemporary France in a European and international framework.
The Sciences Po program begins with the Welcome Programme, which includes an introduction to French culture and the structure of the French educational system, with special attention to the structure of the academic program at Sciences Po. There are also several social activities offered during the Welcome Programme. There is no UC credit for this program. While it is optional for some international students, UCEAP considers this an important part of the program, and it is mandatory for UCEAP students.
French classes are organized into cycles for first-, second-, and third-year students. Lecture classes are large. There are two main types of courses within the French university system. One type, called cours magistraux, consists of a series of lectures held in amphitheaters for 200 to 400 students. The lectures present a broad theoretical analysis of major issues and trends in the given field. Unlike practices at UC, syllabi, course readers, and published course notes are rarely available.
Although assigned homework is rare, professors do provide extensive bibliographies from which you are expected to select books to read. You will not receive a schedule of reading assignments such as you might receive at UC. On the final exam, you may be asked to present a broad, conceptual analysis of a given question based on lectures and independent reading. You must obtain a comprehensive knowledge of the subject through judicious reading.
The cours magistraux are supplemented with travaux dirigés "TD" or conférences de méthode "CM". These are conducted in smaller groups and follow more closely the pedagogical pattern practiced in American universities.
Generally, French courses meet once a week for two hours. The cours magistraux combined with conferences de méthode add another two hours to the week over the 12- to 13-week semester. French courses often have a general title, but the specific content, methodologies, and approach may vary each year. It is common for a course to follow an irregular meeting schedule, especially a course taught by an outside specialist such as a politician figure or famous journalist. You are expected to remain informed about class meeting times and report the total number of anticipated meetings to the Study Center.
You may have the false impression that homework is not required because there are no detailed syllabi, reading requirements, and few references to the course bibliography; however, for the final (and sometimes only) exam, you will be expected to know your course notes in depth and to have read as much of the course reading material as possible.
The small group classes are comparable to classes at UC, with a lot of participation, required exposés, continuous assessment, papers, a midterm, and a final exam. Participants report that lectures are comparable in size to UC and sometimes smaller, though the teaching style is drastically different. Professors expect you to take more notes than at UC, which requires strenuous effort since courses typically last for two hours with only a short break.
If you are taking your courses in French, you will likely find that overcoming the language barrier in the context of your courses is the first main challenge you have to face. It is also difficult to master the various French academic writing styles, such as the dissertation with its plan détaillé and the commentaire composé, especially when writing under pressure. Overall, the dominant feeling for most UCEAP students is that the benefits outweigh the challenges.
The UC Paris Study Center library has a good selection of books in English on French history, political science, and culture which you can check out.
You may choose to study on a French or English track, or a mixture of the two. Consult the Sciences Po website for specific details. There are two types of courses at Sciences Po, lectures and electives/seminars. The lectures are worth 10 ECTS credits while the electives/seminars are worth 4 ECTS credits. Available subject areas include business and economics, European studies, history, political science and international relations, journalism, and law.
You are required to take a full-time load of 1–2 lecture courses and 3–4 electives/seminars, and 1 French language course for a total of 5–6 courses. Please note that regardless of the track you choose, you are required to take a French language course during the semester unless you are a native French speaker. If you are a native French speaker, you need to contact the Study Center Administrator to opt out of the French language requirement.
Lecture courses are worth 6 UC quarter units (4 semester units) and electives/seminars are worth 4.5 UC quarter units (3 semester units). You will enroll in approximately 24-28.5 UC quarter units (16-19 semester units) per semester.
Registering for Courses
You will sign up for your courses through your online Sciences Po student portal prior to the start of the semester. You will receive an e-mail from UCEAP informing you of the date and time for the registration window. You will have a 24-hour window to register for courses, so be prepared to sign up as soon as the window opens in order to have the best chance of getting the courses you want. The registration window is the same for all students and courses fill up very quickly so make sure you have 2–3 alternates for each course in case your first choices are already taken.
Grades for the fall semester are typically available in late March and grades for the spring semester are typically available in late August.
For information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
UCEAP encourages Sciences Po fall students to extend participation to the academic year.
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
Travel to Your Host Country
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Be sure to have access to enough money (U.S. $2,000 to $2,500) to cover initial living expenses (rent, meals, and incidentals) that will be incurred shortly after arrival. You will need access to enough cash to pay your security deposit and first month's rent.
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.
You will have access to the Sciences Po computer lab and the workstations and printer at the American Center. The computer facilities are considered adequate, although many students prefer the convenience of personal laptops. Sciences Po workstations already have access to J-STOR, and you will be able to use your laptop as a proxy server to access other CDL resources.
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.
Have mail sent to the Study Center during the Practicum/Welcome Programme and to your private address once you are settled in your permanent residence. It is not advisable to have mail sent to your temporary residence (this mail may not be distributed and is not forwarded).
You can receive mail at the following address during the Welcome Programme:
c/o UC Center
89, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine
The Study Center administrator will e-mail you to let you know you have mail.
You are responsible for finding and securing your own housing in Paris, though the UC Paris Study Center administrator is available to help you assess the legitimacy of postings, review a lease before you sign it, and answer any questions. You should plan to either find housing before departure or live in temporary housing for the first couple of weeks to a month while you look for permanent housing (more information on housing is in the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist). The cost of the temporary housing is not included in the UCEAP fees. You must also pay for your own meals.
If you do not secure housing before you arrive in Paris, the most pressing concern upon arrival may be locating permanent housing. During the UC-specific orientation, the Study Center staff will cover the topic of 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.
You will pay rent directly to your landlord throughout the program. Housing is not part of your UCEAP student fees and is an out-of-pocket expense.
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.
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
- agency fees, if using an agency to find an apartment
- first month’s rent
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). Renter’s insurance is included in your UCEAP fees.
Depending on the type of housing, utilities (gas, water, and electricity) may be included in the rent, but phone, Internet, and cable services are not; plan on paying for these services yourself. More and more phone contracts are now bundled with phone, TV, and Internet for one monthly fee (around €30). Ask for a package that includes unlimited and free phone calls to the U.S.
The most economical options for meals in Paris 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.
Students with Disabilities
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Students in the Sciences Po, Paris program may legally work in France if certain conditions are met. 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 (Sciences Po does meet this requirement). 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.
French National Health Insurance
As a student at Sciences Po, Paris, you are required to obtain French national health insurance (sécurité sociale). You must pay these fees directly to Sciences Po (you may pay online when you are prompted via email to complete your Sciences Po Pre-Registration prior to departure).
Sécurité sociale covers 30-70 percent of basic medical costs as long as you are treated by a designated category of doctor.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Paris has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. The interconnecting system of buses, subways, and commuter rails serves more than four million people a day with a safety record comparable to, or better than, the systems of major American cities.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
The University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.