My free time in Cy Cergy Paris Universite
CY Cergy University is located near a large shopping centre called "les 3 Fontaines", where you can go shooping and do activities such as bowling or going to the cinema. It has just been rebuilt and is even more modern than before, with a large restaurant and fast food area.
In the city centre, next to the RER A station, there is the François Mitterand park where you can eat on the grass and rest before going back to study.
The Cerclades library, which is located just above the RER A station (without the noise that this implies), has been my favourite place to study and has a huge amount of books.
If you have more time to walk around or go out in the open air, there is the Cergy leisure centre which is a 20 !minute bus ride from the city centre. This leisure centre is amazing as it offers many activities throughout the year surrounding many connected lakes, which surround an arm of the Oise. You can swim on one of the artificial beaches and go on the big slides, do accrobranche, water skiing, archery, fishing, rafting and many other things. And, of course, a little barbecue with friends.
The main axis is a large park that starts at Cergy le haut and goes down to the leisure centre. For sportsmen it is really ideal.
A little further on, a large skating centre has recently opened and people are increasingly going to see hockey matches of the local team: the Jokers.
If you want to go out in the evening, I recommend Port-Cergy, it's a harbour on the banks of the oise where you can relax on the terrace with your friends.
When I returned to France after my exchange year in Granada, I joined the local ESN section. We organised activities for international students (not only Erasmus), trips and hikes to discover the region (Strasbourg, Metz, the Vosges, Lyon, etc.) but also cultural, artistic, sports and festive activities! It allowed me to extend my Erasmus exchange and at the same time I discovered new things and ways of working which changed my professional orientation. It's not just about partying, learning a language and visiting a new place for a few months. It brings so much more!
An association called Linkee organises food distributions for students twice a week! You can get a bag full of fresh and seasonal products for free! You just have to show your student card to get access
How to get faster to university
The transport network in Caen is called Twisto.
I strongly recommend the tram and not the buses which are very slow. You can also walk or use a bike to go to the university but the climb is quite steep ...
Paris is such a big city, it is hard to choose the right neighborhood. It is important to live close to your university to reduce the time spent in the metro. But it is also great if you leave in a beautiful area : for example, the Latin Quarter is really nice but expensive, but the 13th arrondissement is a bit cheaper and very close. People often avoid the north part of Paris. If Paris is too expensive, don't forget you can find great flats in the suburbs.
And keep in mind it is hard to get a flat for a student, even more as a foreigner...
My free time at the Universite du Mans
As a young student full of life, I'd decided to enjoy my time at the University of le Mans by going out and meet new people. Not only did I do this by volunteering at ESN Le Mans (Erasmus Student Network) - helping international students, planning activities, meeting people from all over the world - but I also had some time to practice different sports at the SUAPS. Located on the campus with truly accessible prices for students, you can try and enjoy sports you would never do usually, with people with the same mindset and just have fun sweating !
I have spent a year and a half in Dijon, and I feel quite satisfied with the public transport ! The network Divia (the society in charge of the transport in Dijon) offers a lot of possibilities (tramway, bus) that works, places that are actually clean and safe (never had an issue in it) and that is also accessible for young people, with not-so-high prices (many choices for passes - hourly/monthly/daily/groups etc.) Well, the app isn't the best one on the store with soooooo many bugs, but that's quite it !
Apart from the red wine of Bordeaux, you must try the Canelés ! A small cake flavoured with rum, it is one of the symbols of the city.
Two shops are in fierce competition to see who can make the best canelés ... It's up to you to decide ;)
If you are in Brittany you must taste the "galette-saucisse"!
It is often eaten during football matches. You can find it on markets or at Roazhon Park, the famous red and black football stadium.
What to do after school classes?
The Université de Lorraine has an extremely good sports programme for every student in Nancy! Its name is SUAPS. It consists in paying 10 EUR (maybe more expensive nowadays) per year to have access to a lot of sports classes such as volleyball, basketball, football, tennis, swimming, martial arts and even circus jugglery. Normally, every Thursday at afternoon students don't have any classes so they can practice a sport or do some physical activity in any sports centre in the city thanks to this programme!
Living in Nancy is super interesting because it's a small city with several enjoyable places! Among the main touristic spots you can find the Place Stanislas, which is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe! In the square you can find nice restaurants, clubs, tobacco shops, the City hall and the Lorraine's opera. The Place Stanislas is located at the city centre and can be reached by biking, walking, numerous buses and the tramway.
Don't miss out benefits for students in Poitiers
In Poitiers, many cultural structures offer discounts for students.
The independent cinema Le Dietrich offers tickets for €5.50! It offers a diverse program and film debates! It is located 10 minutes' walk from the city center!
The TAP cinema and its theatre also offer discounts.
How to get around the city
The city of Nice is rather small and the best way to go around it is either by foot or by bike. There are two trams that go rather quickly wherever you need to go and a few buses. Be careful though, the night buses start going around 22h and go only until 1h in the morning.
Opt for the student residence
Looking for a flat in Aix turned out to be a real challenge. Although I started searching a few months before my arrival, the small size of the city and the large number of students enrolled at the university meant that the offer did not reflect the actual demand.
Therefore, despite the fact that I was very reluctant to take a room in the university residence, a couple of weeks before my arrival I had to accept the International Relations office's offer of a room in a Crous residence.
Despite the limited size of the room, it was very functional and well organised. With a private bathroom and mini fridge, the only thing to share was the kitchen. Fortunately, my floor was so empty (due to Covid and distance learning) that the kitchen was used by me and a few other people. Nevertheless, I still managed to get to know a few people and especially to cook and dine in the company of some of my fellow Master's students.
Another very positive aspect was the cost of rent. I was paying 250€ per month and with state housing aid (APL) I paid more than 50€ less per month.
Therefore, if you plan to stay a short time in Aix and get to know people quickly and low-cost, the Crous residence is probably an ideal choice.
Don’t miss financial benefits for students and young people
Living in France as a student has turned out to be much cheaper than expected. In fact, students and young people in France are generally entitled to various financial aids.
Although the bureaucracy is long and frustrating, the results are very satisfying.
If, like me, you choose to opt for a university residence, when you sign the contract and pay the monthly fees, you will be given a sheet with the details to communicate when undertaking the procedures for APL (rent aid). If you rent a flat, do not hesitate to ask the landlord if the flat is eligible for APL. First of all, you will have to register on the CAF website, wait to receive your 'allocataire' number and password by post and then proceed to the 'aide au logement' application on the website.
You should also take out a housing insurance policy including student liability via the website assurances-etudiants.com. Thanks to this advantageous formula, I paid only 27 euros for a year, although I only needed it for a few months.
Then, arrange health insurance for foreign students via the etudiant-etranger.ameli.fr website. With this registration you can access various health services for free. In fact, during the pandemic, I was able to take antigenic tests for free.
Finally, get a free, rechargeable transport card that will allow you, if you are under 26, to travel for 24 hours in the surrounding areas for 2 euros, being able to go as far as Marseilles for example.