Postgraduate study in France, personal experience
As a senior student, I thought about continuing to study abroad. I began to actively search around January 2013, when I studied at the master's degree in computer science. Then I went around several professors of our university, including the dean, asking them about joint programs of our university with foreign ones. However, to my regret, there were no such programs. But then the head of the department of theory of algorithms advised me to a Russian-speaking professor at the University of Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne in France. The topic was quite consistent with my preferences, so I decided to write and find out the details.
As many probably already know, entrance exams are not required. However, you need to collect a lot of documents. The list is approximately the following:
- Diplomas of education translated into English / French, or a certificate of current performance in case you have not yet completed a master's degree. An important role is your average score. It is also worth noting that you can save a lot on translation if the university has an international department that arranges the translation of diplomas on the university letterhead.
- Recommendations from 3-5 professors. They should immediately be written in English / French.
- Motivation letter. It describes why you want to study and what goals you set for yourself.
- Extracts from the dean’s office about your performance relative to other students. We didn’t do such things with us, so I asked the head of our department to write something similar to the fact that I am one of the best students. Generally. it is advisable to include information on how you are evaluated in relation to other students in all recommendations (for example, that you are in the 10% of the best students in the stream).
- It’s good if you already have publications (I didn’t have them and it didn’t hinder admission), certificates of completion (this can be online courses, for example, coursera ) or diplomas of the Olympiads (I had silver at the international astronomy, however I’m not very sure how much this helped me due to the not obvious at first glance connection with algorithms, mathematics and computer science in general).
- A photocopy of the passport is also quite logical and, which is not entirely standard, a translation with an apostille of a birth certificate is very important.
An interview with skype in English is also necessary, but you should not be very afraid of it (unless you can explain it in a foreign language), since it is not asked to solve some complex problems in your mind, but rather, they simply communicate with you to find out the general adequacy.
Hurrah! As a result, on June 3, after several months of correspondence (the first letter was on February 5) with the professor and sending a considerable number of megabytes of documents, I found out that I was allocated a scholarship of 2050 euros (it is worth noting that only 1650 really gets into my hands).
There should not be a problem with obtaining a visa. as the university sends a special invitation - convention d'accueil. Further, an independent application for a visa and after a week - voila! I was given a visa for a scientist for a period of 1 year (Le visa de long séjour "scientifique-chercheur"). For the next two years, it will be necessary to obtain a residence permit, which can be both for a student and a researcher (the first is cheaper, but if you plan to stay in France, the second gives more opportunities in the future).
Where i work
The institute in which we work is not located in the main building of the University, students and undergraduates do not come here often and only for consultations. Each room has 2-3 Ph D students. Each has its own desktop. They also give out Dell laptops with a Core i7 processor, which in the office can be connected to the docking station to work on a large monitor and with a full-fledged mouse and keyboard. They also give out a bag and another charger for the laptop so that you can take it home with you (a trifle, but nice). At the very beginning of the article posted a photo of my workplace. But such a view could be seen from the window when the first snow fell:
What am I doing here
Not. I don’t listen to boring lectures here. Everything happens differently. The main occupation is reading various articles on their subjects, preparing publications, and, most importantly, writing a Ph.D. The university cooperates with various large companies ( Renault , SNCFand others) for which various projects to optimize production are carried out. Often, based on the methods and algorithms developed for such companies, and on the basis of the results obtained, scientific articles are written. It takes much less time to complete the required academic minimum (you need to listen to a certain number of specialized and general courses that you can choose yourself - the choice is large and a lot of interesting things). A part of these watches was easily closed for me by learning French. Also, for a set of hours, you can become the head of a small project for students (for example, I helped students with the implementation of the simplex method in C) or conduct practical exercises (since I had almost 4 years of experience working as a programmer in one of the Minsk companies, I was offered help with practical classes on Oracle DBMS).
What is the money spent on
|Sport event subscription||25|
|Subscribe to Velivert City Bikes||fifteen|
Yes, even though I am paid a scholarship, I have to pay for the tuition. I think this is because the scholarship is not paid by the University, but by a special fund. Another minor nuisance is that even though the visa is for a year, but without a special stamp it is valid only for the first three months. To receive this special stamp, you must go to Lyon and pay 240 euros for the procedure. For 25 euros per year, you can attend any number of sports sections, and the list is very large: football, basketball, volleyball, tennis and table tennis, various types of dancing, fitness or wrestling and much more (I chose rock climbing myself). As in many European cities, there are city bicycles that can be taken in one parking lot and returned to another, and the first 30 minutes you can ride for free (it takes me 10 minutes to get to work), but you need to issue an annual subscription, which costs 15 euros. You can also use public transport (1.3 euros per trip or 25 euros for an unlimited number of trips per month).
|Payment for an apartment||Rent||350|
|Orange (ADSL + Mobile)||fifty|
Saint-Etienne is a small city, thanks to this housing is quite cheap (compared to Paris or Lyon). You can find an apartment, for example, on the leboncoin website . But the necessary condition for the lease is that you (or your friend) look at it before concluding the contract (therefore, I was looking for an apartment during my first week of stay. I lived this time in guest houses on campus). I think a rather useful advice would be to look for an apartment with gas heating. I have electric batteries and I spend a lot of money on electricity, but gas is still cheaper. There is no central heating. Everyone in the apartment has their own boiler for heating water and radiators with regulators for heating.
A sim card can be connected together with home Internet (my tariff includes 3 gigabytes of 4G traffic (if they are exceeded, they slow down), multisim for using a tablet with a phone, and unlimited home Internet at a speed of 15 Mbps, there are also 100 gigabytes in the Orange cloud for storage of something and the ability to watch TV).
Food on average is about two times more expensive than in my hometown of Minsk, but this does not apply to wine and cheese, which are noticeably cheaper here.
As a result, about 800 euros per month are left for the purchase of clothes, travel, etc.
A little about the city itself and the surrounding area
Despite the fact that the city is small (population of about 200 thousand people, the 16th city in France by population), it has everything you need (the French province is very different for the better from the provinces in the post-Soviet territory). For example, there is Ikea (where I bought enough furniture that is not cheap enough for me), Apple service (in which I changed the screen in my MacBook 15 ”Retina in 1.5 hours due to a couple of broken pixels), along the main street there are many different boutiques with shoes and clothes, cheese and wine shops, well, or the large shopping center Center Deux (located by the way not on the outskirts, but on the main street passing through the whole city from north to south, along which trams also run).
And if something is suddenly still lacking, you can easily reach the Lyon by direct train TER in 45 minutes or take a ride at a speed of about 300 km / h to Paris in 2 hours 45 minutes by direct train (but already TGV), or Marseille (3 hours, as you have to make a transfer in Lyon).
The city has museums, cinemas, a large stadium, on which the football club is based, which won the Champion of the country more often than other French clubs. Also, the city has its own website .
The city is not a tourist at all, there are no people eager to sell you something that is not needed at all. You can safely walk at night (unlike Paris). A lot of greenery, and indeed the surrounding mountains, fresh air, clean water (for 6 months of using the electric kettle, I did not have limescale in it).
The road along which I ride a bicycle or walk (depending on my mood) to work looks something like this:
And here is one of the squares of the city near which I live:
Or it is at the moment of the first snow in November (note that the fountain continues to work):
Before Christmas, a ferris wheel was assembled in the main square, and next door it was possible to buy a delicious mulled wine:
On Sundays, almost nothing works in the city and there are practically no people on the streets:
The city itself is located at an altitude of about 500 meters, while in the city there are many hills from which you can see a view like in the photo below:
It is also very beautiful in the vicinity of the city, it is surrounded by mountains (on one side of the Alps, and on the other the Central Massif) with a height of about 850 meters or even more if you go a little further from the city:
As you might have guessed, I don’t do rocket science here, but overall I like the work that I do and the place I live in.