THE UNIVERSTITY SYSTEM
There are many universities throughout France where a three-year course (license) is equivalent to the American Bachelor of Arts/Science degree. There are also 2-year (DEUG) and 4-year (maîtrise) diplomas. Entrance requirements are particular to each establishment, often by examination, either directly or after the Bac or, often, after one or many years of further study. Some establishments and careers require French nationality that may not necessarily be readily obtainable. This may limit the choice of study and career. It is important to verify the quality and official value of diplomas offered. Costs and dates of enrollment can vary tremendously. Les Grandes Écoles are the most prestigious higher education institutions. Most specialize in engineering, business, or political science.
American students will find that it is difficult to gain direct admission into the French university system because of problems with diploma equivalencies. In Toulouse, inquire at Université du Mirail, (the largest in the area), Université des Sciences Sociales, Sciences Po. Consult the book Toulouse Pratique for a complete list of other universities and higher education programs in the Toulouse area. See Chapter 27, Reference Books.
Most American students who want to spend some time studying in France go through an American university (not necessarily their own) study-abroad program. This option, while more costly than entering a French university directly makes obtaining credits towards a USA diploma much easier. The following American universities run programs in Toulouse: Dickinson College (one or two semesters) S.I.T., St. Cloud, Dartmouth (trimester). Many other colleges offer programs throughout France (Aris, Montpellier, Nice, Lyon and localities). Inquire at your home university. British students should contact their local universities to see if their work in France can be applied to their degree course in England.
There is an Open University that operates in the area and may be a choice for those who wish to study further at the university level. For information and a brochure, contact Rosemary Pearson at: 22 Place George Pompidou, Boîte 42, 92300 Levallois-Perret. Tel: (01 47 58 53 73 or Fax: 01 47 58 55 25) — or here.
The following was contributed by a group of foreign students studying at Paul Sabatier I.U.T. Ponsan in Rangueil.
CAMPUS SERVICES and FACILITIES for DISABLED STUDENTS
The Division de la Vie Etudiante (DVE) is at your disposal to meet your specific needs. You are advised to contact the DVE as soon as possible upon arrival.
RECEPTION AND REGISTRATION
The DVE keeps you regularly informed through: the annual practical agenda and the information letter (practical information, sports and leisure activities, legislation, associations). The form for disabled students is enclosed in the registration package. Moreover, a stand is open during the registration period and reception week. In order to assess accessibility, the DVE can, on request, set up a guided visit of the campus infrastructures and if necessary intervene in the classroom organization chart.
Registration can be made by correspondence or by a third party on your behalf. Upon registration, inform the DVE of your specific needs through a letter to the President of PSU. At the same time, you must make an appointment at the Campus Health Centre (Service de Médecine Préventive).
The President will take the suitable steps and the DVE will inform you as well as your advisor and the involved administrative departments (Division de la Scolarité, Research, and Teaching Unit Secretary). The DVE keeps the following equipment at your disposal: a tactile and speaking map of the campus, a speaking terminal connected to a card-phone, a Braille transliteration of the main information documents in large type.
• Course photocopies and documents are free for disabled students.
• In collaboration with the TOBIA centre (Braille Computer Transliteration) and the “Parc St Agne” specialized high school, the DVE occasionally provides Braille transliterations of courses and examination subjects to blind students.
• The DVE can also set up a meeting with a career advisor.
WHAT STUDENTS CAN EXPECT
Classes are 2 hours long and usually start at eight in the morning. Some lecturers allow a short break after an hour. The lunch break is from 12:00 till 14:00 and can be taken at any of the nearby canteens. To get your timetable, go to the secretary’s office and ask her to give you a photocopy of the one relevant for you. Also ask her for a list of subjects you can choose from. Choose wisely – it is a good idea to have a talk with the foreign student’s advisor/tutor to get an idea of what each subject entails (in some cases your home institution might have already advised you what to take). Once chosen write them out on a piece of paper and hand it into the secretary (also remember to e-mail your home institution with your chosen subjects). Then follow your timetable. The first two weeks will probably follow a temporary timetable and after that it will be finalized.
The average number of subjects a foreign student must take is five. You may also need to undertake a project or two. The exams are usually before Christmas with some after as well (if you come back in February then you will only have exams before Christmas). There is also continuous assessment throughout the year in the form of class assignments, which have to be handed in during class or as specified by your lecturer.
To obtain a Carte de Séjour if you are a non-European student.
As we have already mentioned, if you are studying for more than three months in France you are obliged to get a carte de séjour. Non-European students have to accomplish not only all the tasks set by the French government but also two more important tasks:
• Firstly you need National Insurance. This is a big problem for Non-European students because even if you are covered by an international policy the French government will not accept it. The only solution is to obtain insurance in France.
• Secondly, you have to pass a medical examination. This appointment is arranged through the Prefecture on the day that you apply for your carte de séjour and will be between 3 weeks and a month from that day.
There are only 2 companies that will insure non-European students in France:
Both of them have an office in Toulouse and they charge about 450€ for one year’s (which is the cheapest policy available) insurance.
FINDING WORK IN FRANCE
If you feel like getting even more integrated into the French way of life or if you are in need of more money, part-time work is hard to come by but can be found in the following areas (EU Nationals ONLY) noted below. Non EU-citizens should understand that finding a job, with a valid work permit, is not easy. Most such people working in France have been brought in under corporate sponsorship.
Teaching English as a foreign language is possible in Toulouse due to the number of students studying English; experience could make it easier but is not a necessity. Work in this field can be acquired by means of:
• The local newspapers, e.g. Le 31 or Hebdo Toulouse.
• Asking in your College.
• Putting written advertisements in the College and in news agents.
• Via the Internet.
• Bar and restaurant work is also available but is somewhat more difficult to come by. It is very important that you bring a resume (Curriculum Vitae) translated into French and, with this in hand, inquire in as many bars/restaurants as necessary. Make sure that you start looking early, as positions tend to disappear quickly. It may also be possible to find jobs in the local newspapers (as above).
Miscellaneous work is another good option in Toulouse if the above two ideas are not for you. Many of the news agents and launderettes accept written advertisements, but if this fails try asking around the college for help. Possibilities in this area lie mainly in:
• Baby sitting
• Handing out flyers
• Giving music lessons
• Tutoring (Math, chemistry)
Once you have found work, you will be declared and paid at the start or end of every month. Expect to get a pay slip with a list of all the taxes and deductions, hang on to these, because you can claim a tax refund when you return home due to your student status at the following address: CROUS, 58, rue du Taur, 31000 Toulouse.
ADULT EDUCATION/ LANGUAGE
You can live in southern France without learning the language, but to fully appreciate and enjoy the benefits of life here, it is really a necessity to speak a bit of the language, even if your attempt is small. Although many of the younger Toulousains speak some English, it is not so prevalent amongst the older people. Therefore, so as to make your life easier and more enjoyable, it is highly recommended you learn the language. Language instruction can be tailored to meet your individual needs, or can be accomplished in a class format at a number of institutions in the area. The English-speaking groups in Toulouse are a useful source for obtaining recommendations for language instruction.
Alliance Francaise: Internationally, this is the most well known French language school, having a collaboration with the Center for French studies for foreigners. Different levels of curriculum are offered, from beginners to advanced. This can be a very intensive program, usually consisting of classes every morning, Monday through Friday, for 4 weeks. A slower pace is offered with conversation classes during 90 minutes, two afternoons a week. Phonics classes, working on sound and pronounciation, are held twice a week during 90 minutes. Evening classes, private classes, or semi-private classes are also offered. A test will be taken for each level; once you feel comfortable, you can move on to the next level. The Alliance is located at 9, Place du Capitole, Toulouse. Tel: 05 34 45 26 10 – Fax 05 34 45 26 11
Institut Catholique: This school has been appreciated by a number of our members for it combines grammar AND conversation. It is located 31 rue Fonderie, Toulouse Tel: 05 61 36 81 00.
M.J.C. Pont de Demoiselles: Offers two classes two times a week: an intermediate and an advanced. Fees are very moderate.
Université du Mirail or Université Paul Sabatier: Contact the adult education center (formation continue) at the university for details of language programs and other courses.
Other Private Establishments open to the Public:
• Langue Onze Sud Ouest, 16 rue Coupeau, Tel: 05 61 54 11 69.
• Inlingua (Basso Cambo) Tel: 05 61 44 28 28.
• Institut de la Promotion Commerciale (IPC), Tel: 05 62 57 57 66.
Some private tutors who offer French and/or English language instruction:
Tel: 05 61 76 40 30
Tel: 05 62 26 78 80
Tel: 05 61 23 66 09
Tel: 05 61 85 98 19
Tel: 05 61 71 51 47
Tel: 05 61 63 86 82 or 05 61 21 24 55
Tel: 05 61 07 69 24 or 06 63 73 85 39
Check the Yellow Pages (les pages jaunes) under “Enseignement-Langues” for phone numbers and an up-to-date list of names.
Learning a second language is a combination of: knowing basic grammar (only memorization will achieve that), increasing vocabulary day by day (daily situations will achieve that) and intensive listening to assimilate the myriad of new sounds to classify them into known quantities such as words/ sentences/ideas (lots of French Radio, Music, Movies, TV, and chatting with neighbors and salespeople)
After you’ve done an intensive course or two, you may be ready to network with other AIT members to group together and hire a private teacher for a conversation class.
Toulouse Accueil (Place des Carmes) is a Community Center open to all newcomers to Toulouse. As these newcomers are mostly French, it is a marvelous opportunity to make French friends while painting, quilting, crafting, or taking a class in a variety of areas. They are quite open to the Anglo-American Community and provide a warm welcome. They also have conversation classes, hiking, picnics, sightseeing, and evening get-togethers.