Anne Waldrop, 23, originally from Kentucky in the United States is studying a Masters degree in 'Civilisation Francaise' at the famous Sorbonne University in Paris. Here she gives The Local the lowdown on how she landed a scholarship and how to survive as a student in the City of Light.
How did you end up studying in Paris?
It’s always been a life-long dream to study in Paris and I felt I had unfinished business from when I studied French in high school so I applied for an ambassadorial scholarship with the Rotary International. They sponsor students from all over the world to go and study in other countries. They basically fund students to study abroad with the aim of improving cultural understanding. I have to do some talks to different Rotary Clubs but essentially they help pay for my studies and my life in Paris.
Was it difficult to get accepted?
I just applied and had to have an interview. It was not a long process and it was easy for me to convince them why I wanted to study in Paris. They gave me about $27, 000 for the year. Although that would never pay for a place on a course at a US university it was more than enough for Paris, where my course costs around €5,000 for the year. The costs do vary however from course to course.
What about the dreaded visa process?
At first it was intimidating because I needed a student visa for longer than six months. I had to visit a French consulate in the States and I was worried about what they would ask me, but in the end they just wanted to take my finger prints and my photograph. They seemed pretty keen to welcome students. You just need to follow all their instructions and it will be fine.
How did you find accommodation?
I had heard a lot of horror stories so I thought the best thing to do would be to wait until I got here before I looked for a flat. I thought one would just fall into my lap by walking around Paris, but after a while I ended up looking on the web, mainly through the websites www.lodgis.fr and www.parisattitude.com. In hindsight I should have organised a flat before I arrived here. That’s what I would advise others. You just need to make sure the sites are reputable and the adverts are genuine.
What is the course like?
It’s everything I had hoped for. One of the good things is that we are not constantly being assessed like we are in the States. We just have exams at the end of the year. Everything is taught in French obviously, which was quite difficult at first. There was a steep learning curve, but after a few weeks it felt more natural and I could actually concentrate on what the lecturers were teaching us. People should not be put off by that. Doing a course in French is one of the best ways to learn the language.
Any tips on how to afford life in Paris as a student?
It might be an expensive city, but on the other hand it’s a great place to be a student because you can get so many great deals. People should always show their student card wherever they, as there are always discounts available, even when they are not advertised. For things like museums, concerts and the cinema there is normally a student rate. To get around you just need to sign up for the Velib bikes, which also offer a really cheap annual rate for students. And there’s so much to do that is free like all the great parks. Basically if you are going to live in any big city as a student then Paris is the best place.
And finally where’s your favourite student hangout?
It has to be La Crocodile in the Fifth Arrondissement on Rue Royer-Collard. It’s tiny but it has the most extensive cocktail menu you can possibly imagine. It has a god mix of locals and students.