Navigating Life as an International Student in Nantes

Navigating Life as an International Student in Nantes

MSc DMCF Student Reporter Aishwarrya shares her experience of being an international student in Nantes, and provides useful tips to help you navigate your way through this exciting new journey!

Studying abroad is an enriching experience that all students look forward to. It helps you meet different people from different cultures, understand different perspectives and opens doors to new and exciting opportunities.It is not surprising that France is the 5th best destination in the world for international students and the second in Europe, only behind the UK. The country makes sure to offer world-class education with some of the best educational institutions in the world. One such place for students is the vibrant city of Nantes, which offers not only academic excellence but also a unique blend of history, art, and modernity.

As a reader of this article, you must already be getting ready to apply to Audencia or are in fact ready and excited to embark on your journey as an international student in Nantes. Sometimes moving to a new city, especially to a country where you do not speak the language can be daunting. One of the ways to make yourself feel a little bit at ease is to learn more about the city and the administrative tasks you will need to complete as an international student. So, here's a comprehensive guide to help you settle in and make the most of your time in Nantes.

The following are a list of administrative procedures you will need to complete once you arrive in Nantes.

1. Visa and Residence Permit: This is one of the first things to prioritize once you reach Nantes. Make sure to validate your long stay VISA or titre de sejour by visiting this website. You will have to pay a small fee for the stamp. You can get more details about the procedure here. If you need to visit the Nantes Prefecture for your residence permit, it is important to know that you can only go there with an appointment. You must validate your visa within 3 months of arriving in France at the very latest.

2. Accommodation: Make sure that your accommodation is arranged in advance because this will make your life so much easier when you want to open a bank account or apply for social security and other subsidies. Nantes offers various options, including CROUS, private student residences, apartments, and homestays. Audencia can help you with your application to CROUS, so make sure to take the help of the Student Life department.

3. Banking and Finances: Opening a local bank account is very important, especially when you are not from the European Union. From paying your rent and electricity to buying groceries, you will need a bank card to perform routine transactions. There are multiple bank options in Nantes including BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Credit Agricole, HSBC, La Banque Postale, etc. The best way to open an account would be to visit the branch and provide them the necessary documents to open the bank account.

4. Health Insurance: As an international student, you are eligible to register to the French health care system. Once you are part of the social security system, you can get up to 70% of your medical expenses reimbursed. If you also subscribe to a health insurance (assurance mutuelle), you can even get 100% of your medical expenses reimbursed. Non-European students can register on this website. It is important to note that you need to have validated your VISA before you apply for the social security.

5. Transportation: Nantes has an efficient public transportation system, including trams and buses. Consider getting a transport pass for unlimited travel within the city. You can either visit the TAN office in the city center or register online for a monthly or an annual pass. They also have reduced prices for students who are less than 26 years old. Nantes is also one of the most bikeable cities in France. You can choose to bike everyday or even to get around the city occasionally. No matter the reason, you are sure to enjoy the ride! If you are someone who prefers biking, you can use Bicloo, which is the Nantes bike-sharing system. You can subscribe to their services on their website. You can also explore the city at your own pace through the various cycling routes available!

6. CAF (Caisse d’allocation familiale): This is one of the very unique and useful benefits that you can avail as an international student in France. You can receive a part of the rent paid as subsidy. However, it is essential to make sure that you are eligible to receive this benefit. You can also make a simulation on this website. You will need to provide your birth certificate translated in French to avail this benefit, so ensure that you bring this document when you come to France. When you go to the CAF office to submit your documents, make sure to take someone who can speak in French because English is not the working language for them, so not everyone in public institutions speaks English

Discovering Nantes: Must-Visit Places

1. Château des Ducs de Bretagne: Immerse yourself in history by visiting this impressive castle, that served as the residence for the Dukes of Brittany. The museum offers insights into the city's history and a lot of art exhibitions and events are being organized inside.

2. Les Machines de l’iles: This is Nantes’ major attraction. It is a wonderful melange of science and nature where you can find colossal mechanical animal structures that are interactive. The mechanical elephant is the city’s symbol and you can even enjoy rides on this structure. It can even spray water from its trunk, and it is a sight to see! Adults and kids alike enjoy watching the grand elephant of Nantes.

3. Jardin des Plantes: Nantes' botanical garden is a serene oasis ideal for unwinding between classes. Enjoy lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and even a small zoo.

4. Île de Versailles: This is one of my personal favourites. Here, you can go boating with your friends and relax by the river with a typical French pique-nique.

5. Hangar à Bananes: In my opinion, this is one of the best tourist attractions in Nantes. The rings of colorful lights by the river are a sight to see, especially after sunset. There are numerous hang out spots right by this place. You can easily spend an evening here with your friends, just walking along the river or having a drink at one of the cafés.

As an international student in Nantes, you're in for an extraordinary journey filled with learning, growth, and exploration. Just make sure you get your administrative tasks out of the way at the beginning of the academic year and then, you will then be free to embrace the city's offerings, and enjoy the benefits of studying in France. An important tip to remember would be to take appointments and meet the agents in person to clarify your doubts or make the process faster. Also, government offices can occasionally operate at a slower pace, but they ultimately do accomplish tasks in due course. And finally, a tip from my personal experience is that, if you want to make the most of your time in France, try to learn the language as it will make your life much easier, and you can really have an immersive cultural experience!

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