12 Reasons why you do NOT want to study in France (especially if you are older than 28 years old)
Please note that this list is especially relevant if you are over 28 years old and are a foreigner studying in France.
In the Anglo-world, studying after the age of 28 years, and doing a Masters after the age of 30 is nothing unusual but in France it seems to be. French people study continuously from kindergarden through primary school through to collège and lycée and then BTS, université (fac) or a grand école. So most people would never study after the age of 28.
So if you - as a foreign student - decide to study in France at the ripe old age of 30 something you will be faced with the following issues :
- You do not get student health cover under sécurity sociale (or sécu for short).
- You do not get any travel discounts (at least, this is the case for Lyon, it may be different in other cities).
- You do not get museum, tourist attraction, gym membership, swimming pool, library membership or any other sort of discounts. But depending on who serves you, often these places do not check your age though ;)
- The fact that you are older and have more work experience means nothing. You will NOT get paid more if you do an internship (stage) (so basically you only have disadvantages because of you 'old' age and no advantages whatsoever). I refuse to do one as I do not want to work for 2-3 euros per hour.
- If you live in a city other than Paris and are not doing an exchange/Erasmus program, and are not in a huge university, expect NO support at all, no empathy or anything from staff and teachers that you are dealing with a foreign language and culture.
- Expect 12 hour days or 40+ hour weeks, and then you have assignments, homework and exams study on top of that (in other words you will have no time to even eat or sleep and will be brain dead tired).
- Expect to do nearly all your work in groups. I'm sick of this ****ing group work!
- Expect to get treated like you are in kindergarten.
- Expect disorganisation hell like being told you have an exam the next day only the night before or teachers cancelling at the last minute.
- Expect to be given important information from the school and certain teachers via Facebook. As well as that you have to check your school email address and the school internet and your personal email. If you want course notes you have to check multiple places as well and half the teachers will forget to send stuff to you.
- Expect teachers to not reply to your emails or questions.
- You will have a hell of a time trying to find an apartment without a French guarantor (garant) who earns 4x your monthly rent. That is, a French person living and working in France who would be willing to pay your rent in case you default on payments.
So what are the advantages?
- The course fees for a Master are significantly more affordable than in Anglo countries.
- Even though you don't get any discounts, the public transport is really good getting you from home to school quickly and easily.
- If you are in a university you probably have a cafeteria with cheap and decent food. I'm not in one but we have so many restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets nearby so it's easy to find something inexpensive and quick for lunch.
- You'll meet a variety of different people (although in my case I never got to meet any other foreigners).
- The quality of teaching is actually quite high. I'm learning a lot and my French has probably improved 10 fold by spending up to 12 hours a day listening to teachers speaking at high level French! I've also learnt a ton of specific and technical vocabulary.
- You'll improve your French for sure (see point #5).