Third Year in Nice Exchange Program - Useful Information
Please note that the information listed on this site is subject to change without notice and that only the governing body websites (the French Consulate, Passport Canada, CROUS, U of Nice, etc.) can be considered as definitive sources of information regarding specific documentation requirements.
Click here for a checklist of the things that need to be done before departure.
Cost of your year in Nice
As is the case for most students going away to university in Canada, budgeting will be an important consideration for your year in France. In general, the cost of living there is somewhat higher than that of Southwestern Ontario (but remember you are living on the Côte d'Azur). The cost of the year will be greatly influenced by your travel and entertainment preferences. According to reports of recent participants, about $1,300 per month would be sufficient (not including tuition fees paid to your home university).
Please note that we cannot guarantee the current accuracy of information provided regarding costs. Prices charged by institutions external to The University of Western Ontario are subject to change without notice, and the cost of studying abroad is greatly influenced by fluctuations in exchange rates.
Money you will need upon arrival
You will need to bring money for expenses which you will incur when you arrive in France (taxis, bus, meals). It would be a good idea to convert about $200 - $300 into Euros before leaving Canada and to bring this cash with you as well as having an easy way of accessing another $2000 or so in the first few days (traveler’s cheques, bank card, credit card). If you are living off campus, you will need to pay your first month's rent plus a refundable deposit (une caution), which is usually the equivalent of one or two months' rent.
There are a number of administrative fees which you will need to pay shortly after your arrival (see the “Upon your arrival page” for more details). You will need to pay the Carte de séjour fee (65-100 Euros). There used to be a fee for the obligatory medical examination for the Carte de séjour, but it has been free in recent years. You will have to pay French Sécurité sociale upon enrolment at the University.
Managing your money throughout the year
Most bank machines in Nice and elsewhere in Europe are connected to networks such as Interac and Plus, and will allow you to withdraw money from your account at a Canadian financial institution. This can actually be a convenient way to transfer sums of money in the $200 to $500 range from a Canadian account to a French account (go right from the bank machine to a teller at your bank to deposit the cash!). The service charges for this are usually too high for it to be worthwhile to do it for small amounts, while banks set a maximum amount which can be withdrawn in an ATM transaction. You might not want to rely on this as your sole means of accessing your money, especially at the beginning of your stay, but it can be one way of getting your hands on cash from Canada quite quickly. Be sure to check with your bank in Canada before you leave to make sure that your bank card will allow you to access your account through ATMs abroad.
You will almost certainly need to open a bank account in France, since you need a bank information in the form of a document called a RIB (Relevé d'identité bancaire usually pronounced "reeb") to get a phone line with France Telecom and to apply for rent subsidy, among other démarches.
Opening a bank account in France is not always straightforward. Make inquiries at the individual banks as to the procedures for opening an account (this may require making an appointment to return another day). The following results of an informal survey of recent participants can be useful in your choice of bank:
- la B.N.P. (Banque Nationale de Paris) : some students satisfied, others not. They apparently also have special offers to encourage students to open an account with them.
- Banque Populaire (av. Gambetta): some students found this to be good.
- Société Générale: no students used it
- Crédit Lyonnais: usually has a booth set up in CROUS to sign up for an account on the spot. This was very convenient and they had special student rates and gifts if you refer your friends (good gifts too!). Reviews were, however, mixed, with some students complaining about service charges and difficulties in closing the account at the end of the year.
- Crédit Agricole: mixed reviews: some students who tried to open an account advise against it
- La Poste (yes, the Post Office in France is also a financial institution!)
Banking hours are generally: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm; Very few branches (such as the Crédit Agricole on Bd. de la Madeleine) are open Saturday mornings. ATMs can be found in many locations in Nice. You need to deal only with the branch where you open your account, so be sure to find the one closest to home. The Magnan branch of the Crédit Lyonnais is reportedly better than the Jean Médecin one. Tellers are not always helpful.
It is assumed that all students are enrolled in the Ontario Health Plan or in the health plan of another province. Ontario Health requires that you notify them if you are going out of the province for more than 3 months because they will issue you another card which must be renewed when you return.
Ontario Health will want to know the reason for your absence from Ontario, when you intend to leave, and when you intend to return. You should use your Ontario Health card in order to declare this information formally. When you notify Ontario Health you should ask for written confirmation of the coverage which they will be providing you when you are absent (ask for this information to be in both French and English). This confirmation is useful both to transmit to whatever insurance company you deal with to arrange extended medical coverage, and to present to authorities in France as evidence of basic medical insurance.
For information on OHIP and contact information for the local office, see their website: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/ohip/. For the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care program: http://www.gov.nf.ca/mcp/
Medical insurance for expenses beyond those that are covered by your own personal Ontario Health policy should be considered an absolute necessity. Medical expenses outside Canada generally exceed what we are accustomed to. Inquire into what out-of-country coverage you have through your University or student council sponsored health plan to make sure it will cover all possible health expenses abroad. Travel Cuts provides an affordable plan for students to cover additional health/medical expenses. Shop around to find the best rate though. Check with Blue Cross (http://www.bluecross.ca), the health plan offered by your university or students council (it may provide the coverage you need), or another provider (Google "Travel insurance Canada", for example). John Ingle Travel Insurance (tel. 1-800-360-3234) has also been recommended in the past.
Clothing and Footwear
It seldom gets very cold in Nice, but it does happen occasionally. It also rains sometimes (especially in the winter months). Hence, don't pack only warm-weather clothes, but be prepared for some cool weather, particularly if you decide to travel or go skiing into the mountainous regions outside Nice itself. Generally, during the winter months clothes for Canadian autumn weather are suitable, worn with a warm coat in the evening. Because of the many hills in Nice it is advisable to have comfortable walking shoes. Make sure you have an umbrella or a rain coat. Keep in mind when packing that you can buy clothes in Nice.
Before deciding to take electrical appliances with you, bear in mind that the normal electrical current in Europe is 220-230 volts at 50 cycles per second (as opposed to the North American standard). Consult the manufacturer's specifications to determine whether a particular appliance is truly adaptable for European use. Most laptop computers are, but printers often are not (and a convertor might not work with a printer). Check, too, that the appliance has a round-pronged plug of the size used in France. If a Canadian appliance says “110-220” on it this means it will adapt in France and all you will need is the correct “prong” for France and not a whole voltage converter!- available at electronics stores such as The Source or Future Shop (Canada) or Bricorama (r. de France) in Nice. Most electric shavers, curling irons, straightners and laptops have “110-220” convertibility. In some cases, it may be better to buy small appliances such as hair dryers and small radios in France. If you need to buy bedding, small cooking utensils or stationery supplies, you might try Prisunic or Carrefour (which are Zellers type stores).
International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is handy to obtain reduced rates and prices for train fares, movie tickets, museums, etc. University of Western Ontario students can buy one before you leave France through Travel Cuts ($16 + $1.50 for postage and handling in ordering by mail) or at the Université de Nice travel agency, OTU, (underneath the Resto-U at the Fac. des lettres), for about 15 euros. This card is available free of charge for students from Guelph, Windsor and Memorial -- a benefit of membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
If you want to practice sports
Ask your doctor to provide you with a letter stating that you are apt to engage in physical activities.