Imagine my shock when I read up to the part which said:
The problem is that you must be studying to further your existing studies. I tried to get a student visa with a confirmation from Alliance Française that I was a registered student. The visa application asked for a copy of my educational qualifications. My law degree obviously isnt relevant to my French language study, so I didnt provide it. What a nice surprise when the guy at the embassy told me that studying French in France just didnt cut it.
I wrote this post in November last year and got all the information from Alliance Française Lyon website, but obviously it's incorrect because I then went to the French embassy website which says clearly:
To be considered as a student in France, you have to be enrolled full time in a public or private educational establishment, approved by the French authorities, and of which studies are endorsed by a French State Diploma. Studies must be related to the Diplomas obtained previously or your current professional occupation.
Therefore, the following will be considered as students in France:
• Applicants pursuing academic studies at a University or High School;
• Adults willing to spend a year in a French College full time;
• Professionals on training to acquire or complete a professional qualification;
• French courses leading to a post-graduate diploma.
People enrolled in a French language school are not considered as students and therefore have to apply for a Long Stay Visa without Work for Metropolitan France.
Please note that, from January 2009, all student visa applications have to be formally assessed on academic criteria by a French Government authority. As this new requirement is likely to increase the time needed for processing, applications should be lodged at least two months before departure.
Oh là là ! Quelle horreur ! :(
Meanwhile, this whole time I have been looking at university courses somewhat related to my undergraduate bachelor degree. Problem is, degrees in Australia (or the US) are so different to those in France.
For one thing, almost every French person I know has done a masters, that is a bac+5, ie 5 years of university. There seem to be a lot of these courses where the masters is included, notably at the Grandes Écoles. So you do 3 years of an undergrad bachelor/licence degree/diplôme and then 2 years of a masters/maîtrise.
Sounds simple enough but because so many degrees are combined, you can't just cut in halfway and do the last 2 years of the masters. Then there are masters degrees that require you to have a bac+5. Huh? You need to have done 5 years of university study already to do a masters? Talk about confusing and annoying! I happened to have studied a 4 year degree so where does that put me? Nobody can tell me.
It would be stupid of me to do a licence, not to mention next to impossible as I would have to sit a concours (exam) first, and in most cases it's far easier to go straight for the masters but then I have another dilemma. Most masters degrees require you to have at least C1 level of French. There is no way I can get to C1 level in just a few weeks as a lot of university applications are due in May.
To say that I feel frustrated is an understatement! But when there's a will there's a way, right? I have the will I just need to find the way dammit!
Here's part of an online conversation I had recently to show the confusion between the university 'systems'. ;)
Them: je suis encore étudiant donc non je n'ai pas cours :)
Me: tu as de la chance. qu'est-ce que tu étudies?
Them: business administration!
Them: non, master!
Them: comme un MA aux USA, c'est bien ça?
Them: enfin oui MBA en fait
Them: ha ha :D
Me: d'accord :)
PS - Please correct me if the information here is wrong (in the comments), it's just what I've found by reading many French university websites and campusfrance.org etc.