Third Year in Nice Exchange Program - Upon Your Arrival
One of the amusingly frustrating things about the bureaucracy in France is that you sometimes find yourself having to navigate around seemingly impossible situations where you need document A in order to get document B, but can't get document B until you have document A in your hands! Don't let these situations frustrate you; a solution can always be found! You just need to be patient and persistent. As one of our colleagues says “Rien ne marche au début, mais tout finit par marcher.”
The following list is provided to give you an indication of some of the procedures you need to look after which are crucially ordered. That is, you have to complete one of the steps before proceeding to the next one. Details on each of the steps are provided elsewhere in this guide:
- Settle into your hotel room. Temporary accommodations may need to be arranged prior to leaving Canada (precise details of the arrangements vary from year to year but will be sent to you in July). Recover from your jetlag. Take a swim in the sea. Go for a stroll. Relax. Sleep (although some people say it is best to wait until late evening to sleep, so you adjust to the new time zone quickly). Enjoy being in Nice! You shouldn't expect to accomplish anything else the day you arrive!
- Find housing if you do not have a room in residence or other pre-arranged accommodations. Start on your second or third day in Nice. Finding accommodation in Nice requires some patience and persistence, but in recent years most of our students have found a place to live during the first week, if not in advance.
- Once you have found a place to live, set up a bank account.
- Obtain insurance for your housing (this can be purchased from your bank, among other options).
- Get a phone line set up if you want a phone line. You obviously need an address first. You also need a document from your bank, called a Relevé d'identité bancaire (or RIB) in order to set up a phone line.
- Register at the university. The coordinator will assist you in assembling your dossier for the inscription administrative.
- Apply for your carte de séjour. You will need a document provided by the university once your registration is processed, called an "Attestation d'inscription provisoire" (in addition to other papers you will have gathered: see below). The university can be very slow in processing registrations, so you might have to ask for a letter in lieu of this "Attestation". The Préfecture may providesyou with a "Récépissé de demande de carte de séjour", a temporary document valid for three months.
- Pay the fee for the medical exam requirement for the Carte de séjour when you receive the notice in the mail (this takes a few weeks after you have submitted your dossier). No fee has been required in recent years, but this may change without notice.
- Go for the medical exam at the date and time indicated on the notice of appointment you will receive in the mail (expect a delay of about 5 - 6 weeks between the date you submitted payment and the date of the appointment, if fee is required).
- Bring the document provided at the medical exam to the Préfecture to obtain your actual Carte de séjour.
- Verify with the CROUS what documents are required for your rent reimbursement application, and if any stamped photocopies of documents (this can be done at the Mairie Annexe on rue de France) are required for the rent reimbursement application.
- Submit your rent reimbursement application to the C.A.F. (Centre d'Allocations Familiales): details on how to apply should be available from the CROUS.
French authorities require long-term foreign visitors to apply for a Carte de séjour (residence permit). The most efficient way to begin this process is with the tuteurs / tutrices (student assistants) who work for the CROUS and should be on campus in September and October (look for their posted hours near the Bureau des Relations Internationales, or BRI). If you don’t complete the process with them, some follow-up can be done at the CROUS office (ave. des Fleurs, between campus and downtown), otherwise you will have to go to the Centre Administratif Départemental des Alpes-Maritimes (Pavillon Authion,: Bureau des étrangers; bus routes at www.lignesdazur.com). In any case, don't go to the Centre Administratif without all the necessary documentation. Be prepared to wait in long line-ups. Also be patient, polite and assertive with the authorities! Here is the Official Website from the Prefecture with some more useful information: http://www.alpes-maritimes.pref.gouv.fr/Vos-demarches/Etrangers/Etudiants-etrangers
Canadian citizens have in the past required the following:
- your passport, together with a photocopy of its main page and the page with the visa; 4 identity photos (passport-size);
- a justificatif de domicile: a document such as a utility bill indicating your address in France (additional documents from your landlord may be required);
- your Attestation d'inscription provisoire from the Faculté (or a letter attesting to your status as a participant in this student exchange, or your student card) + photocopy;
- evidence of financial solvency: substantial means to sustain you for the year (the financial guarantee you provided to obtain your Visa but stating the amount in euros) + photocopy;
- evidence of medical insurance: Ontario Health confirmation of coverage and any added policy;
- the "long form" of your birth certificate showing parents' names, along with certified translation. (See "Preparing your Trip" section for information on how to obtain these documents).
- a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Once you submit your Demande de carte de séjour, you will receive a Récépissé de demande de carte de séjour (a temporary card). Carry this document with your passport. Although it is a temporary card, it is valid identification.
Within a few weeks, you will receive in the mail a notice of appointment for the medical exam. Report to your appointment at the office indicated on this notice. After the exam, you will be given a document to bring to the Centre Administratif, where they will issue your actual Carte de séjour.
European citizens with EU passports valid beyond the end of their stay in France did not require a carte de séjour in 2012-2013, but please confirm with French authorities before you travel.
N.B. If you are submitting your Demande de carte de séjour yourself, documents you have photocopied might need to be stamped by at the Mairie Annexe, located on rue de France. It would be wise to make a few copies of your important documents to have on hand for the future.
Warning concerning carrying ID
Always carry some form of identification on you especially when travelling outside of the Nice area. We suggest you carry your University of Nice student card at all times. However, when travelling outside of Nice it is advisable to carry your passport and Carte de séjour. Be warned that pick pocketing is not uncommon, so take special care of these documents. One safeguard some use is to scan the originals and e-mail them to yourself, so that you can access the numbers in case of loss or theft.
There are three major inscriptions: en section, administrative, and aux examens.
Inscription en section (also called inscription en groupes)
It is important to attend the Lettres modernes meeting for first-year License (L1) in September, both to get information about courses and also because for some courses there may be sign-up lists circulated at the meeting. Otherwise students register for their specific sections or groups at the first meeting of the course, or at the secretariat of the individual departments. Photographs may be required. The list of courses offered by a department is posted in September outside that department, along with the timetables. The Lettres modernes (i.e. French) information is located in the H building, in the same corridor as the Bureau de relations Internationales. The coordinator and Université de Nice colleagues will assist you in your course selection.
The coordinator assists students in completing and submitting their Dossier d'inscription as well as verifying the required documents. In the past this procedure has required the following:
- A photocopy of the long form of your birth certificate.
- A photocopy of the translation of your birth certificate.
- Proof of health insurance (photocopy of Ontario Health card or other document attesting to health insurance coverage).
- Two passport-size photos
You will also need to pay for your French sécurité sociale (sécu) and an optional sports / cultural fee to the university, either by bank card (carte bleue) or by mandate postal (available for cash from the Post Office). If the student cards are not available on the spot, the coordinator will notify you when your registration has been processed and your Attestation d'inscription provisoire is ready. This document is normally required for your Carte de séjour (but see above for an alternate solution if the processing of your registration is slow).
Your student card will allow you to purchase meal tickets at reduced rates at any of the University Restaurants (RU), to get a library card, to get a card permitting the use of reduced-rate tickets on the city buses, among other things.
Inscription aux examens
Also called inscription aux épreuves. International students must submit their course choices on a form called Contrat d’études, to the Bureau des relations Internationales, normally in October for first term courses and in February for second term courses. The form requires a signature from our coordinator and from a Université de Nice colleague. It is important to check the course codes carefully, as you can only take the exams and get official grades for courses listed and coded properly on this form (students can be enrolled in sections without taking the exams). Students in the Canadian Program may be in "contrôle continu" status for some courses, which means you are evaluated on work during the year rather than just a final exam.
Common abbreviations in use around French universities include:
- U.V.: unité de valeur, i.e. "course"
- U.E.R.: unité d'enseignement et de recherche, i.e. "Faculty"
- R.U.: résidence universitaire
- Le Resto "U": The university restaurant (subsidized meals on campus)
Seeing a doctor
In France, the health care system is quite different from Canada's. You will have to pay for your visit to the doctor and for your prescriptions. Your health insurance will reimburse you for the costs. Make sure to bring any forms with you to the doctor's that might need to be filled out for insurance purposes and keep all your receipts.
You can visit any doctor you wish: all you have to do is call his/her office and make an appointment. The following doctor, dentist and gynecologist have personally agreed to treat our Canadian students:
D. Gérald Halimi
4, rue Chateauneuf
D. A. Chauveau
4, rue Chateauneuf
D. M. Melhem
8, rue Chateauneuf
At the Service Universitaire de Médecine Préventive et de Promotion de la Santé at the Saint-Jean d’Angély campus of the Université de Nice (in the east part of the city, accessible by tram) you can access a wide range of health and well-being services as well as medical appointments with a doctor:
Pôle Universitaire de Saint Jean d'Angély
24, avenue des Diables Bleus
Tél. 04 92 00 12 31 courriel : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bureau d’Aide Psychologique Universitaire http://www.bapunice.org/rdv.php is downtown, and available to all university students by appointment:
04 93 87 72 78
34 bd Dubouchage
In cases of emergency, the simplest is to call S.O.S. Médecin (see number in phone book) or le S.A.M.U. (ambulance services). Or call les pompiers (dial 18 - [not with cell phones]). If necessary, the latter will drive you directly to the Emergency section of a hospital.
There are Emergency rooms at l'hôpital St. Roch (downtown close to avenue Jean Médecin). You can also go to the clinique St. George (avenue Cimiez), the clinique St. Antoine (rue Alphonse Karr) or the clinique du Belvedere, avenue du parc Impérial. It is closest to the Faculté des Lettres.
If you are currently taking prescription medication, be sure to bring an adequate supply of this if possible, as well as a copy of your prescription in case you need to get it filled again. Should you have special medical needs or problems, such as particular drug allergies or asthma, it might be helpful for you to have a letter from your physician giving details of your condition as well as any standing prescription you may have for it. Also, bring a copy of your immunization record. If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, a copy of your optometrist's prescription might be useful in case of breakage or loss. A routine medical check-up is advised prior to leaving for France.
Medical requirements for sports activities
If you plan on participating in ANY school sport or activity, you may be required to get a letter from your doctor which states that you are physically fit and apte à tous les sports. Without this the University may not give you their consent to participate.
Come with an open mind: understand that part of the education that you will receive while you are living in Nice, is the everyday experience of living the Nice way.
Don't automatically reject the French way of doing things because it is different. If all you wanted to do was learn French, you could have stayed at home to do this.
At first all the confusion and excitement might be a little overwhelming but do persevere. Take advantage of all opportunities presented to you to do things! The Coordinator will help you to understand and support you if serious difficulties arise.
An attitude of patience and assertiveness when dealing with the French bureaucracy is a necessity; don't leave home without it!
Meeting People and Speaking French
Keep in mind that Nice has a large number of English-speaking students and that you will be going there with a group of Canadians. It will be very easy to associate only with other English-speakers. You will have to take the initiative to meet French people. Getting involved in activities which correspond to your interests (sports or clubs) is the best way to do this.
Dealing with Cultural Differences in Attitudes toward Women
The cultural differences between Southwestern Ontario and Southeastern France regarding certain men's attitudes towards women become obvious to participants in the exchange shortly after their arrival. Incidents of women being approached in the streets by men trying to "pick them up" in Nice are frequent. The cultural rules for gender relations are much different from those in Canada, and what would be considered by a French woman as a man being "collant" (persistent and annoying in his advances) would be considered by a Canadian woman as sexual harassment. If you are a woman, you will be approached by men in the streets. Canadian women who have participated in the Nice program in the past have noted that the vast majority of these incidents are harmless, but that some made them feel quite uncomfortable.
It is important for each student to work out an effective strategy she is comfortable with for dealing with such nuisances. This involves not only applying the practical tips outlined below, but also discussing your experience with the Coordinator and the other people in the exchange and supporting each other. This will allow you to put these annoyances in perspective.
The vast majority of cases are of a verbal nature (catcalls, attempts to strike up a conversation, or less polite comments...). There are also occasional incidents of men deliberately exposing themselves to women in the streets. The best way to deal with these annoyances is:
- Ignore the guy. His goal is to get a reaction. If he doesn't get a reaction, he will eventually leave you alone. If he gets a reaction, he will interpret it as an acceptance of his advances.
- If you are walking, keep walking, without looking at him, avoiding eye contact.
- If, for example, you are sitting on the beach reading, keep reading without answering him, or get up and move away.
Some cases of of men approaching women in public places involve unwelcome touching (which could include touching of breasts or buttocks). This touching is usually brief and does no physical harm (although it will likely make your blood boil with rage!). Here again, ignoring the guy and moving away from him is still the most effective approach. But what if simply ignoring him doesn't work?
- If the touching is persistent, show your displeasure, but without being aggressive or insulting. An indignant "Ça ne va pas, non?!" or "Mais laissez-moi!" will communicate that his behaviour is unwelcome.
- If you really feel threatened (i.e. if he is touching you in such a way as to keep you from getting away), scream for help: "Au secours!".
Being approached this way by men in the streets can make you really angry, and ignoring these men can make you feel powerless. But it is important to avoid converting your anger into aggressive reactions. Talk your anger through with your friends but be careful to keep it under control in the types of situations described above. Here are some types of reactions NOT to use:
- DO NOT become verbally aggressive: do not call him insulting names, do not use the pronoun "tu" in addressing him, and do not "tell him where to go" (unless you do it in neutral terms like "Go away!": "Allez-vous-en!").
- DO NOT become physically aggressive, unless you are in real danger of being assaulted and need to use physical force to break free in self-defence. Do not strike back at somebody who touches you or who touches somebody who is with you. This can make an annoying situation transform quickly into a very dangerous one.
Tips for making yourself less of a target for these kinds of men:
- Never walk alone at night. Try to walk in pairs or groups during the day.
- Avoid speaking English in the streets. Some men like to target foreign women. Speak quietly and in French whenever possible.
- Avoid eye contact with strangers in the streets. A man will interpret eye contact with him as an invitation to get to know you better. As one Canadian student advises: "Act cold and snobbish".
- Avoid being loud and boisterous in the streets. An "étrangère" making her presence so obvious will attract unwelcome attention.
- Cross the street to avoid groups of young men who are "hanging out".
- Stay sober if you have to walk in the streets of Nice, even in a group. You need to be in control and have your wits about you. The authorities will not have much sympathy for you if something happens to you when you are under the influence of alcohol.
- Avoid smoking in public, unless you want men to ask you for a smoke or a light in order to strike up a conversation, with ulterior motives...
- Take the "Noctambus" instead of walking home at night.
- In residence, don't open your door until you have identified the person knocking.
Living in a big city
Participants in the program are warned that in Nice they must be prepared to deal with the types of safety issues that they would encounter in any large city (although Nice has an official population similar to that of London, Ontario, there are usually a large number of tourists and travelers in addition to the local population). An attitude of caution (and not paranoia) is necessary in order to protect oneself.
- Again, never walk alone at night. Try to walk in pairs or groups during the day.
- Avoid rue de France at night. Too many shady characters hang around Nice's "red light district" after dark.
- Avoid the area around the train station on Av. Thiers at night.
- The old part of town, le Vieux Nice, is as safe a place as any other part of the city to stroll during the day. However, late at night it becomes quite unsafe and foreign students, male or female, alone or in groups, have been victims of assaults. You are advised to avoid le Vieux Nice after midnight. If you let your guard down while partying there late at night, you are asking for trouble, and unfortunately the authorities will not view you as an innocent victim if something happens to you there when you have consumed quite a bit of alcohol.
- The "cités HLM" such as Ariane are located on the periphery of the city, so it is unlikely that you will stumble upon them while walking home. But do be warned that they are very tough neighbourhoods and are best avoided unless you are with a trusted local friend who is familiar with the area.
Protecting your possessions
- In residence, don't open your door until you have identified the person knocking. Intruders sometimes invent a pretext to talk to a resident in order to get a look at what there is to steal in the room.
- Be careful for pickpockets and purse snatchers when traveling. Thieves sometimes use clever tactics to divert your attention, so be wary when approached by strangers in the street.
- Don't carry all important documents when you go out. Keep photocopies of all documents in case of loss or theft.
- Report losses and thefts, particularly of important documents (passport, carte de séjour) immediately to the Service de Police de Proximité, Cellule des Touristes Etrangers, 1, av. Maréchal Foch, 06000 Nice.
- Accidents can happen anywhere, so be as cautious as you would be at home. Be particularly vigilant in traffic: cars do not necessarily stop at red lights and do not always yield the right of way to pedestrians.
- If the waves in the sea are very high, do not go swimming.
- When somebody requires emergency medical attention, it is best to call the Pompiers, number: 18 [not with cell phones]. The quality of medical care in France is very good. Be sure to carry documentation for your medical coverage, including the phone number for the insurance company from which you purchased supplementary coverage.
Be cautious but not paranoid
- A healthy degree of caution will avoid making a tragedy of a year which will otherwise be a very pleasant, rewarding and memorable experience.
- In the words of one recent participant: "Don't feel you can't go out. Be smart”