Approx. Time Difference
Add 9 hours
(Sept 30 - Oct 30:
Add 8 hours)
Language and Culture
Coursework in French
- Pre-ILP + Fall
- Pre-ILP + Year
Coursework in English
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.
Local UCEAP Support
Campus EAP Office
The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.
UCEAP Systemwide Office
The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Program Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and onsite orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Staff advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
Bookmark your Participants
program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
Study Centers Abroad
UCEAP programs in Bordeaux are directed by a UC faculty member. The Study Center Director and staff at each site advise students on academic matters, assist with housing, plan field trips, and provide information on cultural opportunities.
Bordeaux Study Center
Centre d’Etudes de l’Université de Californie
Université Bordeaux Montaigne
Batiment E, Domaine Universitaire
33607, Pessac Cedex, France
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011 33) 5 57 12 44 88
Phone (calling from Bordeaux): 05 57 12 44 88
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code ............ 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
France country code .............. 33
City code: Included in city phone number (drop the initial 0 when dialing from the U.S.)
Approximate Time Difference
Add 9 hours
The Study Center office in Bordeaux is usually closed from the second week of July until the student arrival day.
Pre-Intensive Language Program
This information on the Pre-Intensive Language Program only applies to students on the Coursework in French program
If you have not completed two years of French prior to departure, you are required to attend UCEAP’s summer pre-intensive language program (pre-ILP) held in Paris prior to the regularly scheduled ILP. You may also be required to take the pre-ILP if it is determined that your language preparation is inadequate.
You will take a placement exam to determine which language level you will be placed in during the Pre-ILP. Language classes meet three hours per day, Monday through Friday mornings. Cultural activities and special lectures are scheduled in the afternoons and evenings, and some excursions take place on Saturdays. You will enroll in two consecutive French language courses worth 5.0 quarter/3.3 semester UC units each. The language courses focus on grammar, conversation, and oral and written comprehension. Courses are offered at the intermediate (lower-division) and advanced (upper-division) levels. You will also enroll in an upper-division pre-ILP Practicum course worth 3.0 quarter/2.0 semester UC units that provides you with techniques and skills to succeed in the French Academic environment. The Practicum course meets twice per week in the afternoons. The entire program carries a maximum of 13 quarter/8.7 semester UC units, though you may elect to reduce the units to no lower than 3.0 quarter/2.0 semester UC units with no reduction in workload. The pre-ILP courses must be taken for a letter grade.
If you receive a B- or below as the final pre-ILP grade, you will be required to meet with the Study Center representative to discuss progress and conditions of continuation. Eligibility for UCEAP immersion programs in France is based upon successful completion of two years of French coursework prior to participation; therefore, you may be dismissed from the program if you do not achieve a passing grade in the pre-ILP.
Pre-ILP Attendance Policy
Classes are held regularly Monday through Friday. There are some Saturday excursions. You are expected to attend all field exercises and guided tours, which are integral components of the courses. You are allowed one absence per class on the Pre-ILP program. Any absence beyond the limit will result in a deduction of a third of a grade (approximately 3%) from your final grade. If you are absent due to a medical reason, you need to submit a doctor’s note. In addition, two tardies are equal to one unexcused absence. There are no exceptions. No make-ups are allowed for missed work. If you miss class when an assignment (quiz, written or oral test, paper due) is taking place, you must submit a valid doctor’s note in order to avoid getting an F grade for the assignment.
Coursework in French (Fall, Spring, Year)
The academic program begins with a mandatory intensive language program (ILP) in Bordeaux. The ILP includes intensive language training and background on French culture. You must take the ILP for a letter grade. The ILP concentrates on providing an introduction to French contemporary culture and history, and developing French writing, conversation, and grammar skills. The ILP is designed to prepare you for the demands of regular university coursework. During the ILP you will attend orientation sessions and receive information about the university and its fields of study. If you are a fall or year student you will receive 4 quarter/3 semester UC units for the ILP. If you are a spring student you will receive 3 quarter/2 semester UC units for the ILP.
The academic program during the year consists of regular university courses. Classes are available in a wide range of fields. Recommended fields include anthropology, art history, environmental/ecological studies, French language and literature, studio art, biology, environmental studies, geography, film and media studies, linguistics, philosophy, history, medieval studies, political science, economics, and sociology. There are also courses offered in computer science and engineering.
Coursework in English (Fall, Spring, Year)
The academic program begins with a mandatory intensive language program (ILP) in Bordeaux. The ILP includes intensive language training and background on French culture. You must take the ILP for a letter grade. The ILP concentrates on providing an introduction to French contemporary culture and history, and developing French writing, conversation, and grammar skills. During the ILP you will attend orientation sessions and receive information about the university and its fields of study. If you are a fall or year student you will receive 4 quarter/3 semester UC units for the ILP. If you are a spring student you will receive 3 quarter/2 semester UC units for the ILP.
The University of Bordeaux and the Sciences Po Bordeaux offer a certain number of courses in English. Courses are available in political science, English and North American literature and civilization, economics, and selected areas in the sciences. You will be required to take a French language course during the semester.
Language & Culture Program (Fall, Spring)
The academic program begins with a mandatory intensive language program (ILP) in Bordeaux. The ILP includes intensive language training and background on French culture. You must take the ILP for a letter grade. The ILP concentrates on providing an introduction to French contemporary culture and history, and developing French writing, conversation, and grammar skills. The ILP is designed to prepare you for the demands of regular university coursework. The Bordeaux language and culture program can accommodate students with three to five quarters (two to three semesters) of university-level French. The program offers a specially designed curriculum intended to improve both oral and written language skills while providing a fundamental background in French culture, society, and literature. All courses are conducted in French.
Intermediate language and culture classes are at the core of the program in Bordeaux. The program is taught entirely in French. The instruction is conducted at the University of Bordeaux’s Department for French as a Foreign Language (DEFLE), which enrolls students from a wide variety of countries and cultural backgrounds and provides training in French language and culture.
Departments at French universities differ considerably in size, structure, and offerings. The beginning and end dates of terms, vacation periods, and exam times can vary by department. The Study Center will help you obtain information about courses, including their locations, schedules, and how to enroll.
You may select classes from different departments and programs. However, you may find it difficult to accommodate your schedule choices if you take a variety of classes from different departments, which are frequently located a good distance from one another.
French classes are organized into cycles for first-, second-, and third-year students. Classes are usually large. There are two main types of courses within the French university system. One type, called cours magistraux/cours fondamentaux, 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 readings from the bibliographies the professor gave you.
The cours magistraux/cours fondamentaux are supplemented with travaux dirigés or conférences de méthode. These are conducted in smaller groups and follow more closely the pedagogical pattern practiced in American universities.
French courses meet once a week for approximately two hours. The cours magistraux/cours fondamentaux combined with travaux dirigés/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. 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.
French professors tend to be less accessible than UC faculty members. They occasionally cancel classes or change meeting times without much advanced warning. Outside class, there is not as much help as at UC. Office hours, if they exist, are limited, and usually there are no teaching assistants or discussion sections. These are the inconveniences of the French lecture classes, but once you get accustomed to this change in academic culture, you will find that the system teaches you to become intellectually more independent and improves research skills. Take responsibility for pursuing your own learning during any breaks in regular class meetings.
Libraries & Textbooks
At the University of Bordeaux there are libraries at each Bordeaux campus for students to use. There are several bookstores downtown and one near campus where you can buy your textbooks.
Take familiar reference books and key works that are important for your major; these materials may not always be readily available in English.
You can find all books from the reading lists at the university libraries. However, libraries usually have limited hours and do not offer the option of late evening studies. It may be difficult to check out or reserve books. As a result, you may need to purchase books from the reading lists (though it may be inexpensive, as usually there is less required reading than at UC). The situation varies by university.
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 important 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.
Course Information- coursework in French
The Study Center offers a course on methodology each semester, which is designed to assist you in writing academic papers for the French universities using various subjects of French contemporary culture. This course is mandatory for all French track students.
When you arrive, you are required to take a language test to determine the level of classes recommended during the first semester. Those who place in the two lowest levels are strongly encouraged to take a French language class at the University of Bordeaux’s Department for French as a Foreign Language (DEFLE). The DEFLE, in addition to French language courses, offers literature and civilization courses designed for foreign students. These courses are open to you as an immersion student. Classes often require two term papers or a midterm, and a final exam. Plan to study regularly for all your courses even if the professors do not ask for anything until the final exam.
As a UCEAP student in Bordeaux you may also take courses at Sciences Po Bordeaux which offers a wide range of classes in political science, international relations, political sociology, and economics. Among its research units, the Les Afriques dans le Monde (LAM) is an internationally renowned research center focusing on the analysis of political issues of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Course Information- coursework in English
As a student on the Coursework in English program you will have a smaller selection of courses to choose from. In addition to courses offered at the University of Bordeaux, the University of Bordeaux Montaigne, and Sciences Po Bordeaux, there will be a course offered in English at the UC Study Center on French Gastronomy. The course will provide you with an overview of how the food and wine culture became such a distinctive feature of life in France (5.0 quarter/3.3 semester UC units). You will be required to take a French language course during the semester.
For more information on courses see the Course Catalog
for Coursework in English.
Registering for Courses
You will complete your administrative registration with the University of Bordeaux Montaigne online (in April for fall/year programs, in November for the spring program) and will obtain your student ID card during the ILP. The Bordeaux Study Center staff will send you the necessary information by e-mail. During the ILP you will also receive course information and assistance with university course registration.
Registering for courses in French universities may be a challenge, as the registration process differs from one department to another. If you are at all unsure about the registration process for a specific course, check with the Bordeaux Study Center Staff for guidance.
University course catalogues are not common, and course descriptions and scheduling are often drawn up and posted in departmental offices the week before classes begin. Students and Study Center staff occasionally receive conflicting or ambiguous information during the registration period. For this reason, it is important to consult with the Study Center throughout the registration process.
You will enroll in Bordeaux classes with the help of the local UCEAP staff. The Study Center provides a course list that helps you to select classes. You may also seek out new courses not listed. For these, you are required to collect relevant data about the new course, which is submitted to the UCEAP Systemwide Office for review.
You are required to enroll in a minimum of 22.5 quarter/15 semester UC units each semester. The average course load is five to seven courses per semester, depending on the number of classroom hours per course.
Students on the Coursework in French program can take no more than 1-2 courses taught in English. You can request an exception to take more courses in English but it will need to be approved by the study center and you must have a strong academic reason for your request.
Important note to fall program participants: You must confirm with your instructors that you can take early exams at the end of December in order to return to your UC campus in time for the start of the winter quarter/spring semester.
You can take up to 1/3 of your units per semester for P/NP.
The academic program begins with a two-week practical language session, the Intensive Language Program (ILP), followed by more advanced language courses for the remainder of the term. During the ILP, you will take language classes for 20 hours per week. Instruction is designed to advance your language abilities to the level necessary to function successfully in the subsequent fall culture classes. The ILP includes the study of written and oral French through exercises, conversation practice, and lectures on contemporary French civilization.
During the second part of the program, you enroll in language and culture classes at the DEFLE. You will take approximately ten hours per week of oral and written French language study, plus six hours per week of courses on French culture and civilization. You will choose one civilization course plus a research paper topic for a semester project, which you complete by the end of the program. Research paper topics may include Roman art, city government, trade unions, merchandising Bordeaux wine, staging Racine at the Grand Theatre, traffic regulation in a medieval city, planning the riverfront at Bordeaux, etc. Tutorials are offered to orient you in these projects and help you write the paper. You will also take 1-2 culture courses from class offerings in literature, art history, and French for business.
The French culture and civilization courses are typically structured as follows:
French Civilization I:
This course comprises a thematic and comparative approach to French civilization, focusing on issues of culture and society, physical geography, history, language, religion, political institutions, and state and regional administration.
French Civilization II:
This course examines fundamentals of French attitudes and aspects of French civilization. Topics include the State organization, the education system, the press and the media, and the French population.
French Civilization III:
This course examines French civilization and society, covering demographic data, recent transformations, economic background conditions, and the structure of French administration and important institutions. The course also covers social differentiation: the countryside and its life, workers and trade unions, the tertiary domain, and employees and public officials.
French Culture I (choose two options out of the following five):
- French with an Emphasis on Tourism: discusses means of transportation and the different types of tourism as well as the professions that relate to tourism
- French Song: studies French contemporary songs starting from 1970
- Literary Texts: explores the difference between the language of literature and the language of communication
- Language of French Media: studies contemporary texts and recordings drawn from French media
- History: introduction to French history
French Culture II (choose two options out of the following five):
- French with an Emphasis on Tourism: discusses means of transportation and the different types of tourism as well as the professions that relate to tourism
- 19th-Century French Painting: focuses on the Realism period during the second and third Republics, examining Courbet, Millet, and Daumier
- 17th-Century French Literature: focuses on 17th-century French culture and society, examining key literary texts of the period
- 19th-Century French Literature from Romanticism to Naturalism: examines the lives of key authors and their literary aspirations and value systems
- French Business Studies: the French business system and the different types of communication within firms
French Culture III (choose two options out of the following eight):
- Francophone Literature: examines literature of North African, black African countries and the French Antilles written in French
- 19th-Century French Painting: see previous description (French Culture II)
- Journalist Writing: the diversity of journalistic writing through a corpus of documents published by the press
- 17th-Century French Literature: see previous description (French Culture II)
- 19th-Century French Novel: emphasizes the major works of Flaubert and Chateaubriand
- 20th-Century French Theater: surveys French theater and the authors of major dramatic works
- French Business Studies: see previous description (French Culture II)
- Contemporary French Literature: focuses on 20th and 21st century authors
- Journalistic Writing
You will not have access to regular University of Bordeaux courses in this program.
Registering for Courses
You will complete your course registration upon arrival in Bordeaux. The Study Center staff will provide you with instructions on registering for courses at your orientation.
You can take up to 1/3 of your units per semester for P/NP.
Courses in Bordeaux are assessed in a variety of ways. Some courses are assessed on the basis of a final exam only, others will have a midterm and a final, and some may have one to three papers throughout the semester and an oral presentation in front of the class at the end of the semester. Final exams may be administered in class, as a take-home paper, or as an oral exam. For oral exams the professor will propose three or four different subjects for the exam and the student will select one at random. The student then has about 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to speak in front of the professor.
For some departments you need to sign up for your final exams and for others you don’t. Be sure to check with your professor to make sure you have completed all administrative steps required to take the final exam.
Grades for the fall immersion program are typically available by early April and grades for the spring immersion program are typically available by late July (this applies to Coursework in French and Coursework in English).
Grades for the fall language and culture program are typically available by late March and grades for the spring language and culture program are typically available by mid-July
For general information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
There is an office on the University of Bordeaux campus that is available to help find internships in the city. If you are interested in doing an internship you need to explore and research on your own. If you are interested in a research-based internship in a lab, then you will need to contact professors in the field you desire to work in. If you want to secure an internship with a private company, you will need to send out inquiries to see what opportunities are available.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Extending your UCEAP participation may be possible. The following extension options are available depending on your French level:
- Bordeaux Language & Culture fall semester to Bordeaux Coursework in French spring semester
- Bordeaux Language & Culture fall semester to Univ. of Lyon Immersion spring semester
- Bordeaux Coursework in French Pre-ILP + fall semester to Pre-ILP + academic year
- Bordeaux Coursework in French fall semester to academic year
- Bordeaux Coursework in English fall semester to academic year
- Bordeaux Coursework in English fall semester to Bordeaux Coursework in French spring semester
Plan Ahead to Extend
If you are considering extension, have a Departmental and College Preliminary Approval to Extend (DPA) form approved prior to departure.
The UCEAP Systemwide Office and the Study Center must approve your extension request once you are abroad in order to finalize the extension. Approval is based on a number of factors, including academic performance, the support of your UC campus department, language acquisition, and available space at the host institution. To initiate the extension process once abroad, make an appointment with the Study Center.
Note that due to France visa restrictions, you must have a preapproved DPA form to extend your stay in France, and you will need to apply for a long-stay visa that covers the entire length of your anticipated stay, including the extension term. (This does not in any way obligate you to extend; there is no penalty if you get a visa for a longer period of time and later decide not to extend.) It is not possible to extend a visa after arrival in France. Instructions for obtaining the student visa are included in the Student Visa Instructions in your UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist.
Once your extension has been approved, UCEAP will notify your UC campus registrar, Financial Aid Office, and Campus EAP Office. For information about the steps you need to take in regards to finances, see the Extension of Participation
chapter in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave the U.S. Travel guides and travel-related websites are excellent resources. Many guides provide background information about the region’s history and culture. The following guides provide a wealth of travel information: Lonely Planet’s France: A Travel Survival Kit, Shoestring Guide to Western Europe, The Rough Guide to France, Michelin Guides (Red and Green), Baedeker’s France, Fodor’s France, and Frommer’s France.
Gain or brush up on your general knowledge of French history and culture and prepare yourself for your academic program by reading books like The Discovery of France (2008); Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French (2000) and The Bonjour Effect (2016), both by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow; Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French (1991) by Richard Bernstein; and Multi-Ethnic France (2007) by Alex Hargreaves.
You may also consider reading two books written by a UCEAP France alumna, Meredith Escudier. Meredith is the author of Scene in France: A to Z (2014) which paints portraits of ordinary French folks through the telling of various vignettes, and Frenchisms for Francophiles (2014) which is a compilation of 50 columns devoted to French expressions.
Improve your language skills. The more French you know before leaving for France, the easier your time abroad will be.
Prior to departure, spend time working to improve your French. Even though you may know the language, you may have trouble understanding people initially because they may speak fast, have a regional accent, use colloquial terms, etc. To prepare for this, go beyond reading and studying French and look for opportunities to speak and listen to the language. Stream French music on your listening devices from sites like Fun Radio
or France Culture
and French television from sites like TV5 Monde
, or Arte
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals. This will also help you to understand the local culture and history. The following resources will help you prepare before departure.
The French are very attached to certain formalities, such as shaking hands frequently, exchanging light kisses on the cheeks several times when meeting friends, and using expressions of courtesy like bonjour, au revoir, and merci, followed by monsieur, madame, or mademoiselle when in public situations. You can avoid misunderstandings by observing closely and conforming to some of these customs.
The student society is more relaxed than the society at large, and once initial contact is made, you should have little difficulty socializing with young French people. Students frequently go out in groups. UC students have found social networking apps such as Meetup to be great ways to meet French people.
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
Attendance at all orientation sessions is mandatory (per the UCEAP Student Agreement, Section 10). If you miss the Study Center orientation, you may be dismissed from UCEAP.
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 Pre-Departure Checklist.
You will have an orientation upon arrival in Paris and another one upon arrival in Bordeaux.
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.
You are responsible for reserving and purchasing your tickets (even if you are on full financial aid). Your Financial Aid Office is not responsible for purchasing tickets. You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket. Standby tickets are not appropriate for EAP.
The UCEAP program calendar, which is located on your Participants program page online, lists the official start date for your program. You will need to arrive at the specified location in France on time on the official start date. Detailed arrival information is provided in the Arrival Instructions in your UCEAP online Pre-Departure Checklist.
Flights are routinely changed or canceled. Confirm your flight schedule about two weeks before departure. Your UCEAP insurance includes coverage for certain travel-related contingencies such as delayed flights and late or lost baggage. Review the UCEAP Insurance Plan
brochure thoroughly for details.
The start date of the program can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications in your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for any unrecoverable transportation charges incurred for independent travel arrangements. In order to be kept informed of any program changes, update MyEAP with any changes in your address, phone number, or e-mail address. Your program requires that you submit a Travel Itinerary Form (see the online Pre-Departure Checklist).
Avoid Travel Hassles
Do not ask others to carry any items abroad for you (laptop, camera, extra bags, etc.) and do not volunteer to do so for others. Airlines may not allow you to take them, or customs abroad may charge you a high duty. This is particularly a concern with electronic goods.
Identify each item of your luggage on the inside and outside with your name, home address, and destination. To avoid theft, never leave your luggage unattended. Always pack your prescribed medication in your carry-on luggage along with the prescription; do not pack it in checked luggage where it could be lost or stolen.
The UCEAP Insurance Plan
includes a personal property benefit; however, it is your responsibility to review the benefits before departure and determine whether or not the coverage will suit your needs. You may decide to purchase additional coverage.
Craigslist France is not as legitimate as Craigslist USA and should not be used to secure housing, be it temporary or permanent.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.
If you are a U.S. citizen staying in France beyond 90 days, you need a visa to study in France. In order to obtain a visa, you must first possess a current passport that is valid at least three months beyond the end date of the UCEAP program. If you are participating in the UC Paris summer program and are definitely not going to extend to the fall semester program, then you do not need to obtain a visa.
The UCEAP Systemwide Office provides information about obtaining the appropriate visa in the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist
. It is not possible to apply for a visa after your arrival in France (i.e., if you enter the country as a tourist, you cannot switch to a student visa after arrival). You must obtain the appropriate visa before leaving the U.S. If there is even a chance you may extend your participation in UCEAP France, you must apply for a long-stay visa that covers the entire length of your anticipated stay, including the extension term. (This does not in any way obligate you to extend; there is no penalty if you get a visa for a longer period of time and later decide not to extend.) Once you have obtained your long-stay visa, verify that the expiration date is later than the end date of your program.
You will submit various documents to Campus France and the French consulate when you apply for a visa. The documents submitted should be returned to you. If the documents are not returned, request them immediately. Since you must take these documents to France, make copies of all documents before submitting them to the French consulate. You will need the documents after arrival.
Non-U.S. Citizens: If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact a French consulate immediately to determine your specific visa requirements. Requirements may differ depending on your country of citizenship, and the process may take longer than it does for U.S. citizens.
You will be required to submit an OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) form when you apply for your visa if you fit one of the following descriptions:
- You will be staying in France for more than six months (180 days or more).
- You are considering extending to a spring semester or academic year program, so that your potential stay in France will be more than six months (180 days or more).
- You will be staying in France for a period of time between four and six months (for a total duration of 91–180 days) and wish to be allowed to work in France while studying (see the Working Abroad section of this guidebook).
Refer to the Student Visa Instructions in the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist for instructions on how to complete the OFII form, and bring it with you to your visa appointment at the French consulate (if required). The French consulate will complete their section of the form and return it to you. It is essential that you bring your completed OFII form with you to France. Do not send the OFII form to the Prefecture de Police upon arrival in France. Depending on which program you attend, you will be instructed to either give this form to the Study Center administrator or to another office that will handle your titre de séjour processing.
Titre de Séjour (Residence Permit)
If you are required to submit the OFII form with your visa application (see previous section), you will need to obtain a titre de séjour after arrival in France. The titre de séjour is a sticker placed in your passport. It must be carried at all times. Study Center or host institution staff will provide the necessary instructions for obtaining the titre de séjour.
The cost of the titre de séjour
is expected to be about €60 and is paid in the form of a tax stamp (timbre fiscal
), which you can purchase online, at a tabac
, or at a local trésorerie générale
. The cost is neither covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Plan
nor the UCEAP student fees. The titre de séjour
is provided when all of the required documents have been examined by the OFII Office. Once you receive your titre de séjour
, your visa will become valid through the date indicated on the visa, and you will be a legal resident of France.
As part of the titre de séjour application process, students in programs in Paris will be required to have a medical exam after arrival. This is in addition to the health clearance you are required to obtain before departure.
If you are not required to submit the OFII form (i.e., your stay in France will be within 91–180 days and you will not work in France), you will receive a visa that says “dispense temporaire de titre de séjour” (temporary waiver of titre de séjour), and you will not need to obtain a titre de séjour.
With the Attestation de Dépôt provided by the OFII office after you initially apply for the titre de séjour, or if you have a dispense temporaire de titre de séjour, you can leave France but cannot reenter if there is a passport inspection at the border once your visa has expired. Identity checks occur frequently; you risk being deported if you do not have the titre de séjour or dispense temporaire de titre de séjour. You must carry your passport and titre de séjour at all times. The French are becoming increasingly stringent about immigration and foreigner status in France. Even those with student status are subject to the laws.
Undocumented Students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students
Consult with an immigration attorney free of charge on your campus to determine if study abroad is right for you.
If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz, contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center at https://law.ucdavis.edu/uc-undocumented/
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
When traveling, pack your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications with their prescription, money, and other important travel documents in your carry-on luggage. Keep photocopies in a separate location. Scan the informational and visa pages of your passport and e-mail yourself the document; keep the file in your e-mail inbox and not on your computer desktop so that you can more readily retrieve a copy if it is lost or stolen.
Never put valuables or prescription medication in your checked luggage. Leave extra credit cards at home and carry only what is necessary. You will not need to carry your California driver’s license or your Social Security card.
The UCEAP Insurance Plan
does offer some coverage for personal property; however, it is your responsibility to determine if the plan provides enough coverage to suit your needs. You must research this yourself prior to departure to decide whether or not you should purchase additional coverage. To avoid personal property theft, never leave your luggage unattended.
- Photocopies and scans of important documents (informational and visa pages of passport, receipts for travelers checks, etc.)
- One extra change of clothing and toiletry kit (packed in your carry-on)
- Warm clothing (thermal underwear, waterproof winter coat, etc.)
- Summer clothing (it can be very hot through September)
- Items of clothing with multiple uses that can be easily layered
- Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes
- Reference French grammar book
- Prescription medication (packed in carry-on); see the Health chapter for more information
- If relevant, an extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses, as they are expensive in France
- Dressy outfit for evenings, formal events, and outings (museums, theater, etc.)
- Laptop and recovery disks; adapters (see Computers in this chapter for details)
- Lightweight gifts for new friends and hosts (suggestions: Frisbees; T-shirts with city, state, or campus logos; UC pens or pencils; baseball caps; California postcards, posters, or scenic calendars; sealed local food products such as California almonds, honey, mustard, Ghirardelli chocolate)
Travel lightly. You will have to carry all of your luggage through customs. Be sure to check baggage allowances with your airline to determine their restrictions. Most U.S.-based airlines charge a fee for each bag you check. Oversized and overweight luggage (typically defined as over 50 pounds) also requires an additional fee. Ideally, aim to travel with one large suitcase, but make sure it does not go over the weight limit.
You will be responsible for carrying your own bags quite some distance, including to your final residence. Some apartment buildings do not have elevators. In addition, most cities in Europe are not set up with wheelchair ramps. Consequently, luggage may need to be carried up flights of stairs or lifted frequently. Keep your luggage with you at all times while traveling. It is expensive to ship bags home or consign them at an airport or train station, and many airport and train station storage lockers are now closed for security reasons. Most students find that they can get by on much less than they brought. In addition, many students find that a large backpack (not an external frame backpack) is more convenient than a suitcase. Backpacks are especially handy when traveling by train.
If you are in a summer, fall, or year program, it will be hot when you arrive in France. Temperatures sometimes reach the 80s and low 90s (ºF), depending on the location. However, France will become cold and wet later in the fall and throughout the winter. Snow showers are also likely during the winter. If you are in the spring program, it will be cold when you arrive. Pack the appropriate clothing based on the months that you will be in France.
Typically, California winter coats are too thin for cold winters in France. Be sure to take a durable coat or buy one in France. However, be aware that clothing is often more expensive in France and the UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.
Europeans tend to dress up more than Americans and generally do not wear sweatpants outside the home. You may feel more comfortable if you dress to fit in. Wearing dressy clothes is obviously not practical for everyday purposes, and you can get by wearing shirts, blouses, or sweaters with pants or nice jeans.
Laundry facilities are expensive in Europe (approximately $5 per load of wash) and are often hard on clothes. Pack easy-to-care-for clothing that can be washed at home and drip-dried.
Between cultural activities, excursions, on-site lectures, and traveling, you will be doing a lot of walking. Comfortable shoes are a necessity; make sure they are well broken-in before departure. Sturdy walking shoes (preferably with thick rubber soles), boots, and tennis shoes are recommended.
Good jeans, skirts, sweaters, and other casual attire are sufficient for everyday wear. You will need a warm dress or skirt and blouse for more formal occasions, such as the theater, opera, or dinner with a French family. Most French women do not wear shorts, halter tops, or revealing clothing in the city. If you dress this way you are likely to attract unwanted attention and rude remarks. Such clothing is acceptable and common, however, at the beach and recreational areas.
Jeans and permanent-press shirts are practical. Many French men wear sweaters over their shirts in cooler weather. You will need some formal attire for dressier occasions, such as the theater, the opera, or dinner with a French family.
As in most of Europe, the current is 220 volts at 50 cycles in France, instead of the 110 volts at 60 cycles found in the U.S. Travel irons, curling irons, hair dryers, and electric razors that can operate on all currents are available both in the U.S. and abroad (a plug adapter will be required). Voltage converters and plug adapters are available in the U.S. for European current and outlets (the same items cost more in France).
Taking a laptop has advantages, especially if you are unaccustomed to writing papers any other way. Disadvantages include the risk of theft and access to printing facilities. Commercial outfits that provide printing are neither numerous nor cheap. There may be lines to use university printers. Past students who took laptops were generally pleased they did.
If you are in a UC Center Paris or Univ. of Bordeaux program, take a laptop if possible.
Limited printing and Internet services are available at the UC Study Center and ACCENT Center in Paris, as well as at the UC Study Center in Lyon.
Pack a reference French grammar book with which you feel comfortable. The grammar books for foreigners available in France do not concentrate on the usual difficulties and particular problems of native speakers of English. If you do not have a grammar book, get a recommendation from your current French instructor. Once in France, you can purchase a French dictionary.
There are some English-language bookstores in France, but it is typically cheaper to order books through Amazon.fr
or Book Depository
(go to the “livres en anglais
Insurance for Personal Posessions
Consider having additional protection for your property. In spite of your best efforts, it is still possible to experience loss, theft, or accidents that will damage your belongings while traveling. Talk to your parents and analyze their family homeowners’ insurance to determine whether the items brought or bought while abroad are covered by their policy.
UCEAP Travel Insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage. UCEAP strongly recommends that you examine the details of the UCEAP Travel Insurance benefits and purchase additional property insurance coverage, especially to protect high cost items such as laptop computers, Smartphones, tablets, and other valuables. Review the policy carefully before departure and determine if it provides adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling because most theft occurs in the airport or while moving into housing. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions. Avoid wearing expensive clothing or jewelry and going to questionable parts of the city, especially at night or when alone. Minimize your vulnerability by staying in control of your drinking and your behavior. Do not invite casual acquaintances or strangers home.
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure.
Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
- Contact information for finance questions
- How to estimate the cost of your program
- Budget instructions and information
- Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
- Banking before and after arrival
- Fees and penalties
- Loan information
- How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
- Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Your MyEAP Student Account is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
Your UCEAP Program Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.
- Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
- Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:
If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions
It is imperative that you review the UCEAP Student Budget and determine your program costs. You can find the budget in the Money Matters section of your Participants program page. As noted in Section II of the UCEAP Student Budget, you are responsible for your finances while abroad. Before you go, make sure you completely understand your financial needs for study abroad and verify that your personal funds and/or financial aid meet these needs. Plan carefully, as recreational travel expenses and entertainment are not included in the program budget.
The Euro (€)
The official currency of France (and of the European Union) is the euro (€). As with all currencies, the value of the euro relative to the U.S. dollar fluctuates daily. Depending on these fluctuations, your actual living expenses (in terms of U.S. dollars) can rise or fall over the duration of the program.
There are 100 cents in 1 euro. Coins (la monnaie) come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, and €1 and €2. Much like the U.S. dollar, euro bills (les billets) come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500.
In writing numbers, commas and periods are reversed in Europe. For example, 1,00 is what we would consider 1.00, and 1.000 is what we would consider 1,000.
To find out the current dollar-euro conversion rate, visit websites with currency calculators such as Google Finance
Cash Upon Arrival
It is wise to obtain €150–200 before departure from the U.S. In addition to allowing you to become familiar with the currency, the funds will be useful for snacks, transportation, and unexpected purchases when you first arrive in France. You can purchase foreign currencies from most U.S. banks; the process may take a week or more, so plan ahead. We recommend you request low-denomination notes (e.g. 10s and 20s); many merchants will not break larger bills.
It is also possible to exchange dollars for euros at international airports (both in the U.S. and abroad), although exchange rates are less favorable and exchange offices are not always open in the late and early hours of the day. ATMs can be found at the airport, and you will have the opportunity to withdraw euros from your American bank account as soon as you enter the arrival hall.
If you set up a bank account in France, you may not have access to money in the new account for up to a month, so be prepared to access cash from another source for your initial financial needs (see Obtaining Cash Abroad).
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. You may want to consider obtaining travelers checks in the U.S. for this purpose (see below).
Obtaining Cash Abroad
The Study Center recommends the following forms of handling money: debit card, credit card, and wire transfers. How you divide your money into the various forms is entirely your choice; choose the options with which you feel most comfortable. UCEAP recommends that you choose multiple methods of accessing funds so if there is a problem with one, you can use another.
Credit cards generally offer the best international exchange rates. Visa, known as Carte Bleue in France, is the most widely accepted credit card in Europe. MasterCard is also widely accepted, as is American Express (AmEx), though to a lesser extent. There will be an additional fee added to any purchase you make using your AmEx card since the commission AmEx takes is so high, the retailer/restaurant passes this onto the customer. The Discover card is not commonly accepted.
If you take a credit card, set up an online account (if possible) so you can track expenses, receive statements, and pay your bills online. You may also arrange to have your statements sent to France, or for your parents or a responsible person to receive and pay your bills from the U.S.
Be sure to notify your bank that you will be using your credit card abroad so they do not freeze the account when you try to use it overseas.
Past students have found it useful to bring an additional credit card strictly for emergencies.
Travelers checks are rarely used nowadays in France, so they are not practical for everyday use. Landlords and shops will not accept travelers checks as payment, even if they are in euros. However, students living in apartments may need to bring travelers checks to exchange into euros in order to pay their first months’ rent and security deposit (after which you can withdraw euros from your bank account during the month to pay your monthly rent without exceeding your daily/weekly limit on withdrawals).
If you do bring travelers checks, you will need to exchange them into euros at either American Express or any bank marked “Change.” AmEx travelers checks are the most widely accepted. Be sure to make two copies of the check numbers and give one copy to a family member or friend. Keep the other copy for yourself, separate from the actual checks. If you lose your checks, you will need to provide these numbers and the receipts in order to obtain replacements.
A good way to obtain cash is through an ATM. In most cities in France, it is easy to use an ATM. To get an ATM card, you must first have an account at a bank or credit union in the U.S. before departure. Most ATM cards are connected to a checking or share draft account. The bank will issue you an ATM card and a personal identification number (PIN). The PIN must have four digits in order to work in France. Keep in mind when choosing a PIN that ATMs abroad do not have letters on the keypads. Most cards carry the symbols for the Cirrus and Plus systems on the back, which are common ATM networks throughout Europe. It is helpful if your ATM card has a Visa or MasterCard logo on it. Once abroad, the ATM card and PIN can be used to withdraw money from the U.S. account.
There is no waiting period, and money deposited in your account in the U.S. is immediately available for withdrawal abroad. There may be limitations on the amount of cash accessible per transaction, and there may be fees depending on your U.S. bank. Ask your bank about sister banks in France; you may be able to avoid extra fees. Be sure to keep track of your account balance at all times so you do not overdraw funds from your account.
Bank of America is linked with BNP Paribas and students find their transactions to carry the lowest bank fees.
ATMs are available at most French banks and commercial centers and accept all major ATM and credit cards. This is the least expensive way to withdraw money. There is usually about a 3% charge on each transaction.
Check with your bank to make sure your ATM card can be used to access funds in France. Be sure to notify your bank that you will be using your debit card abroad so they do not freeze the account when you try to use it overseas. Increasingly, banks block the use of American ATM cards abroad to prevent fraud.
U.S. bank checks and cashier’s checks cannot be cashed in France. Therefore, this is not a recommended option.
One option for wiring money is MoneyGram International. The transfer generally takes about ten minutes and all fees are paid in the U.S. For more information, contact a MoneyGram location.
Another option for wiring money is to use the international transfer services operated by Western Union
(phone in the U.S. is 877-989-3268). As with MoneyGram, all fees are paid in the U.S. You may pick up the money at one of many post offices within two or three hours from the time it was sent.
Never wire transfer money to anyone you do not know personally through companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram. It is nearly impossible to reverse the transfer or trace the money, which makes a common tool for scammers.
Credit Card Advances
You may obtain a cash advance with your Visa or MasterCard from a bank offering Dépannage. Your PIN is not usually required if the transaction is conducted inside the bank, but you must show your passport. Remember that interest begins to accrue the day that you take the cash advance, not at the end of the billing period as is the case with purchases. Also, the interest rate charged on cash advances is usually higher than that charged on regular purchases.
If you plan to use your credit card for cash advances, check with the issuing bank in the U.S. to make sure that the card will be accepted by European banks and ATMs. A credit card with an international PIN comes in handy if you need to obtain a cash advance after hours.
You will not be able to open a bank account immediately upon arrival. There is an AmEx office in Bordeaux where you can cash travelers checks (although travelers checks are not widely used in Bordeaux) to cover initial expenses.
The Study Center does not have an agreement with a particular bank. Fees and services will vary by bank, so shop around before you choose a bank. There is no cost to open an account, but you will be required to provide your passport. You can order checkbooks and bank cards when you open your bank account.
Opening a bank account in France is free and does not require an initial deposit. You will receive a debit card within about 10 days of opening an account, and if you wish, you may request to receive a checkbook as well.
Semester-only students: please note that opening a French bank account may be very difficult.
At the end of the year, you may be entitled to a refund for certain items, such as the housing security deposit (this usually requires that the landlord inspect the apartment and verify that all bills have been paid). Do not have reimbursements sent to you in the U.S. in the form of a check. By French law, checks from a French bank account cannot be accepted for deposit in the U.S. (A local California bank will likely be unaware of the French law and may initially accept the check, but eventually it will bounce.)
If you expect reimbursement:
- Leave your French bank account open until all checks are deposited. Once all reimbursements are completed, write to the bank and have them close the account. You can request that the French bank transfer the balance to
a U.S. account. There will probably be a transfer fee of $25.
- Have the person who owes the money transfer it through his or her bank directly to a U.S. bank account. International bank-to-bank transfers are allowed by French currency regulations.
In most cases, WiFi access in Europe will not be as extensive as it is at UC. If possible, take a laptop. Carefully consider security risks and other precautions. Laptops, cell phones—particularly smart phones—and other electronic devices are among the most frequently stolen items from travelers. Keep all your electronics within reach at all times. Do not place your cell phone on the café table or pull out your phone while on public transportation—it can be quickly swiped. The UCEAP Insurance Plan
offers a personal property benefit, which covers theft; however, it is your responsibility to review the insurance details and determine whether or not it is sufficient to cover your laptop. You may decide to purchase additional coverage depending on your needs. For your laptop, it is advisable to have updated virus protection.
Most laptops are equipped with a voltage converter allowing the use of the 220-volt electricity in Europe. Read your manual to confirm. The converter is usually part of the “box” located halfway down the power cord. You still need an adapter to use the outlets.
If you bring a laptop or smart phone, you will be able to access WiFi, 3G, and 4G in Europe where it is available.
When you register with the University of Bordeaux, you will receive a university e-mail address and you will be able to access WiFi on campus.
During the ILP, you will have access to computers and WiFi at the DEFLE (Foreign Students Department) and in the Study Center. When the regular term starts, you will also have access to computer rooms at Bordeaux Montaigne.
Expect computer access to be more limited than at your UC campus. You will be allowed to write papers by hand if necessary.
Public phones work with prepaid cards (known as télécartes) that can be purchased in post offices, tabacs, bookstores, newsstands, some cafés, and numerous other locations. Use France Telecom to call the U.S. only at the most economical times (Sundays or between 1 a.m. and 6 p.m. France time) or for very short calls.
Many students choose to obtain cell phones shortly after arrival. A wide selection of cell phones is generally available. You may be required to have a bank account in order to buy one unless you buy a cell phone that operates with prepaid cards. If you already have a cell phone, check with the manufacturer to see if it will operate in France (only tri-band phones operate in Europe). More information on purchasing a phone will be available after arrival at the Study Center.
You will have access to phone booths during the orientation and ILP. During the regular term, use your home phone and/or cell phone.
If you live in a homestay, you may be allowed to make local phone calls (within a reasonable limit as you have to pay for each call). You can make international or long-distance calls using a phone card. Discuss your calling options with the
host family when you move in.
If you live in an apartment, you can get a phone installed in your apartment once you move in. However, most students prefer to use cell phones.
One of the most popular means of calling internationally is using the Internet to make phone calls at an inexpensive rate. Skype is a free option for computer-to-computer calls made through the Internet. You are advised to buy a headset in the U.S. where electronics generally cost less. SkypeOut is a Skype service through which you or your parents can charge the account to make calls to regular landlines and cell phones. Currently, SkypeOut costs 3 cents per minute to a French landline, American landline, and American cell phone, and 24 cents per minute to a French cell phone.
French Postal System
French mailboxes are yellow and readily available in public places and on the outer walls of post offices and tobacco shops, called tabacs. Collection times are indicated on each box. In general, mail sent within France that is posted before the last collection will be delivered within 48 hours, unless it is sent economy rate. Mail sent abroad will take longer, and delivery times depend on the destination—on average it takes from three to five days. Anticipate five days for letters to reach the U.S.
Stamps are available in post offices, which are open from 9 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturday mornings until noon. You may purchase stamps from multilingual vending machines located inside the post office. In Paris, the main post office, located at 52 rue du Louvre (metro station “Louvre”), is never closed. It is the only post office in France open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Domestic stamps are also available at tabacs, which charge the same rates as the post offices. These shops are identified by a red or orange diamond-shaped sign.
Sending parcels home from post offices is generally convenient and reliable. Sturdy, pre-paid shipping boxes with self-fastening systems are available in all sizes at the post office.
Have mail sent to your private address once you are settled in your homestay or apartment.
Do not ship computers, cameras, or valuable items to France unless the shipping agent and French customs confirm that you can receive your shipment without import duty taxes. It is common to pay a fee as high as $100 for something as simple as a coat or camera. Furthermore, even inexpensive items that are correctly marked “For Personal Use Only/No Commercial Value” sometimes incur customs charges. Keep all your receipts for electronic equipment and register the items with U.S. customs to make it easier to bring equipment back to the U.S. It is also against the law to send prescription and over-the-counter medications through the mail. Medication will be stopped at French customs if you try to ship it to France.
If things have to be shipped, all packages will go First Class and the rates are fairly expensive.
When shipping important documents, it is often worthwhile to use such shipping services as FedEx and DHL. These companies, along with the U.S. Postal Service, have special additional services that help to ensure that the documents reach their proper destination. All of these options usually require a physical address (no P.O. boxes) along with a phone number.
Remind your parents, friends, and others who might send you a package to declare “For Personal Use Only/No Commercial Value” on the customs slip.
Upon arrival, you will move into your homestay or apartment in Paris.
Homestay accommodations provide the opportunity to observe firsthand how the French live, and it is the recommended housing option for Pre-ILP students.
The Host family will provide sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels. The number of meals provided per week will depend on the meal plan you have chosen with your host family. Phone usage varies from home to home, but students are generally allowed to receive calls in the home and may make short phone calls. You may need to pay for outgoing calls. All homestays have internet, although wireless (WiFi) is no guaranteed.
Students in homestays will be placed in homes throughout Paris, thus commute time to the ACCENT Center will vary. You will get the name and address of your host family during the UCEAP orientation in Paris. This information will not be available prior to departure from the U.S.
Each apartment houses from 2-8 students in shared and single bedrooms (the average has 4-5 students). Each apartment is different; some are in buildings built in the 1970s, others in buildings that were built in the 1770s! That means that you might have a fancy lobby with an elevator, or a salon with characteristic high ceilings, tall windows, and charming (but creaky) parquet floors. They are all different (some would say "quirkier") than apartments in many parts of the United States, where they tend to be newer. The apartments are located all over Paris and feature the following amenities:
- Great beds (90cm x 200cm)
- Clean, comfortable linens and towels
- Fast and reliable hi-speed wireless internet
- Fully outfitted kitchens, including appliances, pots and pans, dishes and dining implements
- A dining table and chairs for everyone
- A living area with soft seating for everyone
- Washing machines and drying racks
- On-line, on-call maintenance service
- 24/7 emergency service
UCEAP collects a $150 refundable housing deposit, which will be returned to you, less any damage charges, after the PreILP program has ended. Damages include, but are not limited to, extra cleaning, repairs, unreturned keys, unreturned smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, etc. It is your responsibility to document any pre-existing damage to your housing and report it to your housing provider at the very beginning of your program. Any damage charges above and beyond the $150 housing deposit will be applied to your MyEAP account and you will be responsible for the charges.
Students are responsible for arranging housing between the end of the pre-ILP and the start of the fall/year program.
You will be asked to provide your housing preference in a housing questionnaire e-mailed to you by the Bordeaux Study Center. Your housing choice is binding; do not expect to change your housing preference after arrival.
You have a choice between living in a single or shared apartment or a homestay. Your address will be confirmed by late June if you are a fall or year student, and mid-December if you are a spring student. You will move directly into your permanent housing upon arrival in Bordeaux.
Apartments are furnished, including kitchenware and sheets. You may need to obtain your own towels.
There is a wide range of homestay accommodations, in terms of location, facility, family interest, and socio-economic and educational background. If you choose this option, review the general Living in a Homestay section at the end of this chapter before making a final decision about housing. The homestay housing cost includes breakfast and dinner seven days a week plus lunches on the weekends. You will be provided with a single room that includes bedding (sheets, blankets, and pillows). Towels are usually also provided. You will have access to kitchen facilities and cooking utensils to prepare lunch when you are at home.
You are required to make your own housing payments directly to your landlord or host family (even if you are on financial aid).
Your rent is due at the beginning of each month. In most cases, you will be required to pay a rental deposit in advance in the amount of one or two months’ rent. This is returned within two months after you move out as long as the apartment is left in the condition it was found. Utilities and phone bills are extra costs. You may also have to pay a renter’s tax (taxe d'habitation) of about one month’s rent.
If you arrange to rent through a rental agency, you may have to provide documentation of parental income and pay additional deposits and agency fees. In addition, you are responsible for any extra housing expenses such as cleaning, utilities, and phone bills that are charged to you after the program is over. You will be blocked from registering for courses at your UC campus and from obtaining transcripts from your UC campus if you fail to pay such bills.
All renters in France are required to have liability insurance for protection against accidents, fire, or water damage. For Bordeaux participants, the renter’s insurance premium is included in your UCEAP fees.
Rent is paid by the students at the beginning of each month—always in euros and directly to the landlord (never with travelers checks). You will likely be required to pay a one-month rental deposit in advance. This is returned within one month after you move out if the room is left in the condition it was found and in good condition according to the rental agreement. If you decide to move without giving one month’s notice, you may be fined up to one month’s rent. Phone bills are extra expenses. Rent includes breakfast and dinner seven days a week, plus lunch on weekends.
Renting Apartments in France
The following information applies only if your program allows renting apartments. See the beginning of this chapter for housing options in your program.
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
If you rent an apartment under your name (shared or not) over a period that includes January 1st of a given year, you must pay the taxe d’habitation, which is equivalent to about one month’s rent and is billed annually by the government. Sometimes the taxe d’habitation is calculated by the landlord and is included in the rent. The fisc (French IRS) is increasingly more computerized and efficient. If the fisc sends an inquiry, it must be answered. Be aware that it is often sent after your departure from France.
Renting an apartment may require the payment of an agency fee (typically one and a half month's rent) and a security deposit equal to one month's rent. These factors can increase the monthly housing expense by one-third. The security deposit should be refunded after termination of the lease, generally after the landlord has made sure that the utilities have been paid and there is no damage to the apartment. The landlord has up to two months to refund the security deposit. The security deposit cannot be applied toward the last month’s rent. In accordance with the housing agreement, sufficient notice (typically one month for a furnished apartment and three months for an unfurnished apartment) is required before vacating the apartment. Notice must be sent via registered mail with return receipt requested, or “lettre recommendée avec avis de reception.”
Although a lease usually covers 12 months, French law provides a procedure for early termination. To terminate a lease, the owner must be notified by a registered letter (receipt requested) at least one month in advance for a furnished apartment and three months in advance for an unfurnished apartment. After giving notice of early termination, you must allow the landlord to show the apartment. If these requirements are fulfilled, you are freed of the lease. If you decide to move without following this procedure, you may be fined up to one month's rent for a furnished apartment and up to three months’ rent for an unfurnished apartment, or you may have to pay the rent until the official procedure has been fully completed. By law, the landlord has two additional months to return the security deposit, less any damages. There is little chance of finding someone to sublet an apartment. Ask the Study Center staff for help with these important matters, especially when you receive and sign official documents.
Renter's Insurance and Utilities
Under French law, you are required to have renter’s insurance, which covers fire, water damage, accidents, and theft (only from your home). For Bordeaux participants, the renter’s insurance premium 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.
Living in a Homestay
There is probably no better way for you to be immersed in French culture than to share everyday life with a family. The homestay is intended to be a mutually convenient social arrangement, a cultural experience, and a financial agreement between the host family and you. The home is intended to be more than just a place to stay. However, conforming to someone else’s rules, especially if they seem strict, may be a strain if you have lived on your own for a few years. You may need to accept some limits to your independence. For example, the homestay family may require that you keep your room reasonably tidy, or they may have different rules governing phone usage, food, and utilities. Some families place restrictions on visitors. In some homes, students have their own entrance and considerable privacy.
Although you may be made to feel like a part of the family, some families are more distant and will establish a more impersonal and businesslike arrangement. The degree of interaction with other members of the household varies in relation to the diversity of the households in France. You may well find yourself living with a single individual and one or more family members (collateral or direct kin) instead of a traditional family unit. Retired single individuals (usually retired women) frequently enjoy hosting students. Do not expect a traditional French nuclear family or the dynamics that you might otherwise experience with such a family.
You will need to be flexible. The responsibility to adapt is on you, not on the host family. Being in a family setting, it is imperative for you to take into account local customs as the family comes to know you personally. The homestay coordinators are careful about matching you with the best family, but a perfect match is difficult. Dialogue, patience, cooperation, and consideration are usually the best vehicles for good results. While the program attempts to place one student per household, occasionally another student might be present from another program. In order to be placed in the most suitable situation, fill out the pre-departure housing questionnaire carefully and accurately by the required deadline.
The primary purpose of being with a host family is to interact socially and culturally, and to improve language proficiency. It is expected that everyone, including other guests in the home, will speak French at all times. If a host family requests that you speak English, it may be beneficial to work out a reciprocal arrangement in which you occasionally speak in English to help the host family with the language, while remaining committed to using the host family’s help in your own acquisition of French.
There may be some unspoken conditions and responsibilities to a homestay involving everything from use of the kitchen to possible curfews. To avoid any confusion, communicate with your host family about the following when you arrive:
- Keys: Will you be issued keys to the house? Does the family expect you to be home at a certain time of night?
- Bathroom privileges: What are your rights and responsibilities concerning the bathroom facilities? If possible, set up a schedule, especially for the morning.
- Meals: How many meals per day will you receive? What should you do if you know you will miss a meal? What should you do if you miss a meal unintentionally? Discuss any special dietary needs and scheduled meal times, and inquire about access to the kitchen and the household’s food. Be flexible if you are a vegetarian.
- Towels and linens: Will they be provided? Who will launder them? How often will linens be changed?
- Your room: Who is to clean the room? Make the bed? Change the linens?
- Laundry: Who is responsible for the laundry? In some situations, the host family will do all laundry except underwear.
- Water: Conservative usage is highly recommended. You may be limited to one shower per day.
- Guests: Are you allowed to have guests, including overnight guests? What about parties and social gatherings in the home? Always inform the host family about any out-of-town trips and times when you expect to arrive home late, in case of an emergency.
- Payment: Clarify how payment for room and board is to be made. When is payment due? In some programs, homestay payment is included in the UCEAP fees.
- Phone: Ask your host family about the use of the phone and how to reimburse them for phone bills, and follow the set guidelines. Leave some money to cover charges that have not yet been paid before you leave France. Procedures and expectations vary by program. Most students obtain cell phones, which avoids this problem altogether.
- Internet access: If the host family does not have wireless, make sure you understand how to access the Internet. If you will be using a computer belonging to the host family, assume access will be limited. Seek out other ways to get online, such as computer labs and Internet cafés.
- Other utilities: Do not leave lights, computers, or other items running when not in use, and check with your host family regarding use of heat, etc. The French are conservative about the use of electricity and hot water. Respect host family expectations with regard to use of utilities.
Do not hesitate to report difficulties to the Study Center staff. Concerns should be aired immediately to avoid having a small instance build up into a major annoyance. Often, an upsetting situation is the result of a cultural misunderstanding that the Study Center may be able to explain. Note that the Study Center will only consider reassigning you in severely mismatched situations.
You are responsible for any damage that you cause in the homestay and you will be expected to replace the items or pay for the damages before departure.
Students living in apartments will prepare their own meals. It is also possible to buy food in shops and bakeries near the university. Note that eating options on campus (cafeterias, restaurants) are very limited during the ILP, since most French students are not there yet.
Students living in homestays are provided breakfast and dinner seven days a week. On weekdays, you must buy or prepare lunch on your own; on Saturdays and Sundays, lunch will be provided.
Meals in student restaurants (the “CROUS”) are substantial and only cost about €3 each. If you eat primarily at student restaurants, you can keep within the estimated budget noted in the UCEAP student budget. If you cook some meals and eat at regular restaurants often, plan on spending more each month than is noted in the UCEAP budget. Eating out in France is generally a lot more expensive than it is in the U.S.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Most students live 30 to 60 minutes away from the university. Monthly transportation passes available in Bordeaux cover the bus, tramway, and metro services. The costs of these passes are approximately €32.
Bordeaux also has an annual pass available for €225, which is a better deal over a 10-month period than the monthly pass (€22.50 per month for 10 months vs. €32 for the monthly pass).
In Bordeaux there are bike lanes to accommodate cyclists. You can rent bikes in Bordeaux through a bike renting system; see the VCub website
for details. Note that you are required to have a French bank account in order to rent bikes from these services.
When traveling between cities and countries, most students use the train. A high-speed train ticket from Paris to Lyon or Bordeaux costs approximately €75 to €130, and you can receive a 25 to 50 percent discount with advance reservation. To find routes, fares, and schedules, visit the website for France’s train transportation system, VoyagesSNCF. Upon arrival in France, you will be able to purchase a “Carte Jeune 18-27” if you are under age 28, which will entitle you to up to 50 percent discounts on train tickets.
This is a new way to travel at a very cheap rate all over the country. The bus service is run by private companies and the train company SNCF. Information is availalbe on their website
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while on UCEAP is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community.
Join sports, musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations; attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles; and get the most out of your time abroad.
Students with Disabilities
Leaving your host city for more than 24 hours?
You are required to complete the online sign out through your MyEAP account.
Click on Travel Signout and complete all required fields. During an emergency (abroad or in the U.S.), it is important for UCEAP officials to know how to reach you so we can help you.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Students in the Bordeaux programs may legally work in France as long as they 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 students who will be in France for the year. EU citizens are exempt from this requirement.
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.
There may be volunteer opportunities available in your host city. Talk to the staff at your UCEAP Study Center to discuss whether volunteering is feasible for you and for suggestions on what organizations may be in need of volunteers.
France has both sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination laws in place and is generally considered one of the most gay-friendly places in the world.
For more information,
Know Before you Go
While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy
. Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term.
The UCEAP travel insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
Read details in Benefits at a Glance
. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. Your travel insurance policy number is ADDN 04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
There is no deductible or co-insurance but the travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis.
You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim proces
or about non-medical claims
Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance. Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is your responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits and Claims Status
ACI at email@example.com.
A high level of medical care comparable to that in other industrialized countries is available throughout the country.
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center immediately. Study Center staff can recommend a clinic to visit, provide the necessary UCEAP medical insurance claim forms to complete, and make arrangements with your professors if an extended absence from class is expected.
Keep the following numbers handy in case of a medical emergency
Medical emergencies and SAMU (24-hour ambulance)..........15
Fire department and other emergencies...............................18
If you have questions, concerns, or feel that you need to be tested for a sexually transmitted disease, you can receive information and testing at the following clinic:
Maison Départementale de la Santé
2, rue du moulin Rouge
Phone: 05 57 22 46 66
Know Before you Go
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
Read the Health chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
- Understand your UCEAP travel insurance terms of coverage.
- If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor. US prescriptions are not valid in other countries. Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventive care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance; your campus or private insurance plan may cover it. You must travel with a letter from your prescribing explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name.
- If you need to find out if this appointment would be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance, contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the UCEAP travel insurance, refer to your UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, or your pre-departure checklist, Insurance tab.
- Two classes of medicines – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine) which tend to be highly regulated. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions.
- If you plan to purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must fill and pay for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start of the program). Do not assume that your local pharmacy knows about the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage. You will need to pay for the medication and submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance.
- Find out whether your medication is legal in your UCEAP country.
- If traveling with a prescription containing controlled substances, review international agreements governing the transportation of medications across borders check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
- Talk to your doctor to see whether he/she can prescribe an adequate supply of your prescription medication to last through the end of the program. Ask your doctor how to adjust your dosage depending on time zone changes.
- Get a letter from the prescribing physician, on letterhead, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name as brand names vary considerably around the world.
Traveling with prescription medications
- Keep the medication in its original packaging clearly labelled with your name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. Carry it in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill or solid form. For more information, particularly if your medication is in liquid form, consult the US Transportation Security Administration., Traveling with Medications.
- Carry copies of all original US prescriptions.
- Carry the letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic names. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
Why is a letter from your treating physician necessary?
If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country, talk to your doctor. If you need to switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure to monitor side effects and dosage. The letter from your doctor indicating condition, treatment and medication regimen, can help a local physician to assess you and to consider reissuing your prescription provided it is licensed in your UCEAP country. Note that the local doctor's appointment for medication refill may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance.
Consult with ACI, email@example.com. Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health section.
If you are currently in treatment in the U.S., discuss your UCEAP program details with your doctor so you can work on a plan in case you need to reach out for care. If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician before departure about getting the supply you need for going abroad. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
Your mental health is important to us all. Create a plan with your treating doctor. Managing your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a pre-existing condition – is something every person must think about when going abroad. Being away from usual stress at home can sometimes be a relief when abroad; experiencing new adventures can be a useful distraction. You will also have times when you feel confused, uncomfortable, annoyed, and many of the same emotions that you manage in your daily life at home.
Cultural adjustment and homesickness are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture adjustment function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life.
You may feel homesick or sad. Feeling down, anxious, homesick, depressed or stressed might be your body’s reaction to the new environment and different life away from your usual support network. Don't cope alone. Reach out for help to the local UCEAP program staff and your friends. If you have been feeling unhappy for longer than a few days, or it is staring to affect your enjoyment of
life and/or your studies, then you should see a doctor immediately.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy
covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Budget for this expense as you must pay up front and submit a claim to the insurance company for a refund consideration. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit a completed claim form and paid receipts to the UCEAP insurance company. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process
. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students with severe food allergies should take precautions, as the cuisine may include ingredients that can cause anaphylaxis in those affected. A language barrier increases the risks associated with severe food allergies.
Precautions to take include:
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Health chapter
, Allergies section.
Air pollution routinely exceeds recommended thresholds in urban areas, especially in Paris, Antibes, Lyon, Nice, Valenciennes, Marseille, and Toulon. Individuals with asthma or chronic cardiorespiratory conditions should consult with a healthcare provider and carry necessary medications. On days when air quality is particularly poor, affected individuals should take personal precautions to reduce respiratory stress.
Read all information provided to minimize your risks and stay healthy while travelling. Know who your local contacts are during an emergency. Make informed, responsible, and reasonable decisions concerning your health and safety while abroad.
There are some strategies you can practice anywhere in the world to minimize your risks. Personal safety starts with awareness. To be alert to potential dangers and risks to your well-being, you need to be aware of what is going on in your immediate environment. The choices you make about your behavior, attire, travel, personal property, relationships, etc., can directly influence your exposure to risk. Follow your instincts. If a situation is uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation. Carry official ID and a charged cell phone with you at all times.
You play an active role in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being. Consider an action plan.
With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in minimizing or preventing personal risks. Take time to assess the risks, plan ahead to reduce them, and think how you would lessen the consequences if things go wrong. Start by outlining activities you plan to engage in through your program and/or during independent travel; label the risk and rate it based on the likelihood of harm and the severity of consequences. Consider measures you can take to reduce the severity and chance. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and has contracted with emergency assistance and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety.
Be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate and unpredictable terrorist attacks, which make it impossible to protect yourself from. Remain vigilant in all public areas in your UCEAP city and country and wherever you travel. Many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for student or higher education targets.
Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent and appear to be on the rise. If you are in a crowded public place, know how you can exit quickly, identify barriers or safe places where you can shelter-in-place, and watch out for any vehicles that appear to be going at very high speed.
Report anything suspicious to local authorities. Read all security-related correspondence and advice from local staff. Schedule direct flights, if possible. Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Minimize time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Have a plan for what you will do in the case of an emergency. If you are ever caught in a situation where somebody starts shooting, follow the active shooter guidelines: drop to the floor, get down as low as possible, and hide if possible. Cover yourself behind a solid object. Silence your phone. Do not move until the danger has passed.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and enhance your personal safety
Register online with the U.S. embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
(STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
France is a relatively safe country, with most crimes being non-violent. The majority of crimes directed against foreign visitors, including Americans, involve pick-pocketing and theft.
Personal Safety Tips
- Guard against pickpockets and purse snatchers.
- Avoid walking in deserted areas at night, especially alone; walk only in well-lit areas. Always walk with a friend.
- Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and watches. Leave items that you do not need on any given day at home.
- Keep wallets in front pockets, wear purses close to your body or use a money belt. Carry your purse or bag with the strap diagonally across your chest. Do not store a camera or other valuables in backpacks where they can be removed without notice.
- Be inconspicuous. Try to dress to blend in with locals. College sweatshirts, sweatpants, baseball caps, white sneakers, and shorts are all associated with Americans and may make you stand out.
- Act like you know where you are going, even if you do not. Plan ahead when you are in an unfamiliar part of a city so you will not have to pull out a map and demonstrate that you are lost.
- Do not carry your passport. Copy the first page of your passport to use as a form of ID and leave your actual passport safe in your room. If you lose your passport, or if it is stolen, immediately notify the nearest embassy or consulate, local authorities, and UCEAP Study Center staff. Before departure, scan the first page of your passport and e-mail the file to yourself. If your passport is stolen while you are traveling, you can access it online and print out a copy, which will help in obtaining a replacement from the embassy.
- Do not use an ATM in isolated, unlit areas or when there are people loitering in the vicinity. Avoid using the ATMS in train stations, especially at night. Beware of people standing close enough to the ATM to read your personal identification number (PIN) as you enter it into the machine. Thieves often conduct successful scams by simply observing the PIN as it is entered. If your card gets stuck in the ATM, be wary of people who offer to help, even those who seem to be helpful and ask for your PIN so they can “fix” the machine. Legitimate bank employees never have a reason to ask for the PIN.
- Remain aware if using your laptop or smart phone in a public space. Many laptops, cell phones, and Smartphones, are stolen by agile thieves watching you and waiting for you to turn away for a moment. If using a laptop in a restaurant or café, do not sit near the doors where a thief could run in, grab the computer, and run out easily. Sit in a back area and remain aware of the people around you. Do not place your cell phone or Smartphone on the café table; always keep it in your purse or pocket. Do not text or phone while walking down the street or waiting for the metro; do so in a discreet place where no one can see the phone you are using.
- Lock your door and secure your bike to prevent theft.
Bordeaux is generally a safe city. However, it is good practice to follow the safety precautions above and avoid walking alone at night.
Demonstrations & Strikes
Protests are frequent in France, mostly in metropolitan areas, and are usually staged by public officials, unionized workers, farmers, and anti-globalization and eco-activists. While violent civil unrest is not common in France, student, labor union, and immigrant demonstrations have escalated into confrontations in the past.
Large demonstrations in France usually have a strong police presence, but there have been occasions when protesters burned cars and numerous arrests were reported. In addition, the congestion caused by large demonstrations could cause major inconveniences for a visitor on a tight schedule.
Non-labor-related protests most often focus on national policies. Such large-scale demonstrations in Paris and other major cities are usually accompanied by a strong police presence. Political violence and civil disorder are relatively rare in France, but public protests and demonstrations do occasionally become dangerous and result in police intervention; it is therefore wise to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, if possible especially in metropolitan areas and the surrounding suburbs (banlieues).
Demonstrators are required to obtain a permit, and some of the local media will list scheduled demonstrations.
Avoid all protests and demonstrations, including student and labor rallies.
Large strikes occur frequently in France, mostly in metropolitan areas, and are particularly common during spring and autumn. Nationwide strikes can severely disrupt public services and transportation. Further disruptions may be caused by the large labor demonstrations that often accompany these strikes.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Efficient transportation systems are found in all major French cities. Between cities, France is served by an equally extensive rail service, which is safe and reliable. High-speed rail links connect the major cities in France. Traveling by train is safer than driving. Many cities are also served by frequent air service.
In larger cities, subways, buses, trolleys, and public transport stations are havens for thieves, pickpockets, and purse snatchers. Loose items such as cameras and purses should be kept within a larger and securable carrying bag that is kept in front of you.
Train Travel Security
Crime committed on trains on popular tourist routes is a concern. Most personal crimes, including robbery and assault, occur at night and on low-end domestic service trains.
- Travel during the day, using the highest class of travel available and the most direct booking.
- If overnight travel is required, book tickets only on international rail lines in a lockable cabin and never travel alone.
- Do not accept food or drink from strangers, as criminals are known to drug unsuspecting travelers, especially foreigners.
Train stations are usually open 24 hours a day and do not have security to control travelers or loiterers. Stations and their immediate surroundings are havens for petty criminals including scam artists, pickpockets, purse snatchers and baggage thieves.
- Keep your luggage and other possessions in sight.
- Avoid using the station's public restrooms if they are vacant or not guarded.
- Avoid withdrawing money from ATMs in train stations, as thieves may be targeting those that use them.
Pedestrians make up 13 percent of the deaths in motor vehicle accidents (roughly the same as in the United States), but this percentage is increasing. Most of these accidents occur when a pedestrian steps out onto the street, often when a car or motorcycle is making a turn onto a pedestrian crosswalk.
As a pedestrian, it is your responsibility to make yourself visible and avoid dangerous behavior and situations. Be careful and attentive.
Traffic is heavy in major cities, and pedestrians are numerous. Sidewalks are sometimes narrow and motorcyclists will drive up onto them to avoid being blocked by cars in the street. Motorists may not stop for pedestrians in crossings. Look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even when using a marked crosswalk.
Be especially careful while crossing streets at busy intersections. Drivers can be very aggressive in Paris and traffic laws are frequently broken. Even when the light is green, take extra caution while crossing the street. Also watch out for cars and motorcycles in certain areas that seem pedestrian-only. Even if a street is marked one-way, look both ways before crossing as there may be a bus or taxi lane that allows for these vehicles to drive in the opposite direction.
Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment
member of the UCEAP community should be aware that the University
prohibits sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other
prohibited behavior (“Prohibited Conduct”) that violates law and/or
University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively
to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to
prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that
violates this Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Report to
UCEAP staff and/or partners if you suspect one of these
behaviors has occurred.
The Government of France maintains a threat rating system, known locally as “Vigipirate,” similar to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory System. Under this system, the government routinely augments police with armed forces and increases visibility at airports, train and metro stations, and other high-profile locations such as schools, major tourist attractions, and government installations. Over the last few years, there have been arrests of suspected militant extremists allegedly involved in terrorist plots. French authorities have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions for terrorist attacks in Europe.
After a series of terrorist attacks in France, the Government of France raised the Vigipirate level and continues to evaluate its security posture on a regular basis.
France was victimized by significant terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016 to include the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo Attack; the November 2015 Paris attacks that resulted in 130 dead and over 380 wounded; the deadly mile-long truck rampage in July 2016 in Nice that killed 86 people and wounded more than 400; and the attack on a Catholic church in July 2016 in Normandy by two teenagers wielding knives that resulted in the death of an 86-year-old priest and the wounding of another.
There were several other less publicized attacks by individuals targeting the French police, and a failed car-bomb attack near Notre Dame in Paris in September 2016.
The government maintains a threat rating system known as “Vigipirate.” There are three threat levels: Vigilance, Enhanced Security Risk of Attack, and Imminent Attack.
Although U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted in terrorist attacks in France in the past few years, several have become victims in recent terrorist attacks. Terrorist organizations continue to aspire to attack American interests worldwide. Travelers should remain vigilant.
France has low fire safety requirements for both single-family dwellings and blocks of flats. There is a law requiring every home in France to be equipped with a smoke alarm as of March 2015. Around 800 people die each year from domestic fires in France.
If your dwelling does not have the mandated smoke alarm, borrow one from the UC Study Center.
Follow these general fire safety tips. Most college-related fires in the U.S. are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country. Fire safety standards differ drastically around the world.
- Know where emergency exists are located and check whether exits are passable.
- Know how to call the local fire department.
Do not stay in housing above the sixth floor so you are within range of most fire department rescue ladders.
- Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
- Purchase and use a smoke detector. Before departure contact the Fire Safety Foundation. Choose from a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, including models with sealed, 10-year batteries. Once purchased, the alarms and a multilingual installation manual – written in English and the host country’s native language - will be shipped to the address where you are residing.
- Have an escape plan and practice it.
- Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and safely to the alarm.
- Check for fire hazards. Make sure exit routes are not blocked.
- If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
- Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.
Program Suspension Policy
If the U.S. Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Advisory after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, UC security provider, U.S. Embassy, U.S. Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.
The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy evacuation on U.S. government-arranged flights, that require U.S. citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP and its security providers, is covered by UCEAP itravel nsurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
You will find different practices and attitudes towards drinking in France. Alcohol can be purchased by anyone over 16 years old.
Alcohol alone is far more likely to put you at risk for assault, injury or death, regardless of whether you are male or female. Evidence shows that people who have been drinking are more at risk of being the victim (and perpetrator) of attacks, robberies, muggings and sexual assaults. You don’t have to be ‘really drunk’ for alcohol to affect your judgement. Even a few drinks can make you take risks you would not otherwise have taken.
Many theft and assault victims are targeted when making their way home from a late night out after drinking alcohol. When you are drinking, your ability to gauge the safety of a situation and to take appropriate action is going to be reduced. Alcohol can, and frequently does, cause a person to lose all common sense when it comes to their own safety. Avoid becoming a victim when you do drink. The best way to have a great time and to keep safe is to plan ahead. If you go out late at night, do so with a group of friends and drink responsibly.
If you are out with someone new it is wise to consider how to keep yourself safe:
- Make sure someone knows who you are meeting and where.
- Have an exit strategy ready (such as a friend calling you).
- Remember alcohol is the most common date rape drug.
- Alcohol affects your behavior and the messages you give out.
- Date rape drugs are used as much in France as in the U.S. Never accept a drink that you haven't seen poured, and never leave your drink unattended.
Violence and Antisocial Behavior
- Don’t feel under pressure to drink until you are drunk. French students drink as an accompaniment to an evening, and not with getting drunk as a goal.
- Be aware that when drunk you may appear threatening to others – which in turn may impact how they behave toward you.
- Alchohol can, and frequently does, cause a person to lose all common sense when it coems to their own safety. Avoid becoming a victim.
- An anti-smoking law forbids smoking in all public places, includoing restaruants, bars and nightclubs. Howerver, smoking continues to be well-tolerated in France, so expect to see many people smoking.
What Is an Emergency?
An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
- Any life/death situation
- A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
- An arrest
- Civil unrest or natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the U.S.
- During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact your Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
If you are abroad
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times.
If you need immediate emergency assistance, call 112 for Police, Ambulance, or Fire Department.
If necessary, call the emergency number of the U.S. Embassy in Paris:
01 43 12 22 22
U.S. Embassy in France
American Citizen Services
4, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris Cedex 08
Phone: +33 1 43 12 22 22
Fax: +33 1 42 66 97 83
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