Relocate student to France

Good afternoon, in this post I will tell how I, being a student of mathematics, went to France, and now I live and work here, and I am as happy as an elephant.


Briefly about the initial condition: 2014, I am Ukrainian, 18 years old, I live all my life in Dnepropetrovsk, 3rd year of uni (DNU, Faculty of Applied Mathematics, computer science specialty). My older friends are slowly leaving to study abroad, I begin to think the same thing, but it is very scary. I can hear the edge of the ear about the “exchange” between DNU and Le Mans University (hereinafter Le Mans) - why not try it?

Why "exchange"?

В нашу сторону едут в основном состоявшиеся люди по работе или ради достаточно дешёвой жизни, французские студенты предпочитают центральную Европу (Прага, Германия), либо Москва-Питер. Россия их интересует как исторически важная страна в отношениях с Францией, ну и некоторые совсем отпетые просто хотят "съездить мимолётом в Сибирь, увидеть медведя".

The specialty in France is the engineering of intelligent systems (Ingénierie des Systèmes Intelligents). Education for two years, Master 1 & 2 (in French it is a degree of Bac + 5).

In order to go, we offer a competition for 5 seats. After selection, the rector Le Mans sends us official papers inviting us to study with them, we will need them for applying for a student visa.

How was the competition then, and how is it going now

В мой год он состоял из комбинации оценки за 4 года + мотивационка + язык, от 0 до 100. Оценки — классика — средневзвешенная за все семестры. Мотивационное, конечно же, на двух языках (укр + фр или укр + англ).

В мой год язык проверялся достаточно кустарно, мы приходили и разговаривали с заведующим программой с нашей стороны, на английском! Нужно рассказать, что ты ожидаешь от программы, и чем твоя кандидатура смогла бы заинтересовать другую сторону.

Сейчас же, проводится специальный тест французского, с преподавателями с языковых факультетов.

В итоге, наши имена выставляют по порядку и отправляют этот список во Францию.

Важно понимать: что в мой, что в последующие года, количество участников конкурса не превышало 5 человек — важно было лишь их расставить по оценкам. Одним из критериев столь низкой популярности программы были и есть, деньги.

Visa application

About a week later we received approval from the French side. Began collecting dossiers.

The main documents were papers confirming financial capacity - you need to show the bill in the amount of € 620 / month (the subsistence minimum in France). The rest is bureaucracy: assessments, motivations, copies of documents. For Ukrainians born around 2000 - change the birth certificate to a new one, A4 format. All translate with an apostille (even a bachelor's degree from 4 years at the university).

Also, the inviting party reserves you a room in a hostel (20m 2 in the summer, or 9m 2 for a year at once). We had a mess with that - we booked them on our site ourselves. Now this is all done by the administration of Le Mans.

Visa waited about 3-4 weeks.

An interesting moment came out in our top five, and was repeated the following year: we were sent invitations for the Master's year (Master 1), but the visas were different. So, my visa was immediately for a year, and the rest was given 3 months, since the program "implies the successful completion of the summer language course (DUFOS)". The following year, the invitations spoke clearly about a short-term visa for 3 months, and if successful, after the summer course - a long one year. Two people received annual visas at once.

Summer courses

These are compulsory courses before admission to the university. It is understood that they give you a level of language sufficient for integration into the educational system. 2 months last: the end of June - the end of August. At the end, everyone is obliged to submit a mini-presentation (Grande Exposé) on a specific topic (yes, there is the subject “how to show presentations correctly”).

In addition to the presentation, a number of various mini-exams are conducted on the subject of fluency, literacy, dictum (write an essay), text retelling.

And if not passed?

В теории, не взяли. Но и в наш, и в последующие годы зачастую студенты ходили плакаться, после чего их "пропускали". Девелоперу ведь не обязательно нативно говорить по-французски.

Additional obstacles

One of the conditions for admission to a French university was our admission to the Master in Ukraine. In theory, you should do it yourself, take an academic. vacation for a year, and go to a year to unlearn in Europe. After, you do the opposite. After two years, you get both diplomas.

Why this is a problem - in the middle of the language program I had to go to take exams at home, eventually losing from 2 weeks to a month for surrender, waiting and logistics.

Among other things, if you received a visa for 3 months, then you passed everything, then you have to apply for a long-term visa through Kiev again. In some cases it took 3 weeks - 2 months, the person came at the end of October.

And how many people fulfill this condition of the diploma?

Не знаю ни одного человека, который выполнил эту установку.

It is also not clear at what time to open an account in a French bank (this is mandatory for work later). We were opened during the summer courses - there was no guarantee that we would stay / pass the courses. After, I tried to open an account in another bank, for personal reasons - no one needs a student without work.

Among other things, it is necessary to open insurance on yourself and on the apartment, but it is very simple and does not take much effort.

As for the apartment: if you rent it yourself, then the guarantor will be required of you, money ahead for 1-2 months and proof of resources (work, scholarship). Finding an apartment is very difficult, while a student. In Paris, for example, even a tax sheet for a couple of years is requested.

From the good: on arrival, the administration fills us with a dossier for social assistance when renting an apartment (in this case, a room in a dormitory), CAF. If the documents are translated by an accredited translator, then everything is ok. Otherwise, in addition to another bureaucracy, you will have to turn to a special person (he is in Le Mans) for the sake of transfer to the place.

This social assistance will save us ~ 60% of the cost of the apartment while we are a student.

Also, we must remember that all student exchanges are the official program, and most likely they are supported by scholarships from Erasmus. Ask questions to program managers until they give a normal answer - we did not ask, were left without scholarships; The guys from next year have thoroughly shocked our side, and achieved success.


Subjects here, if they choose, then in the early years of study. On Bac + 4, we were offered only three options per year, from which we had to choose two.

Studying here is cool and simple. For people with a large background in theory, the application of knowledge was like honey to the soul. The number of items is large, but the volume for each one is much smaller than at home. Example: in Ukraine, we had Teverver, the teacher came, silently wrote up two turns of the board with a formula, turned around, asked “is everything ok?”, We answered “no”, he nodded and continued. Just like in meme-jokes.

Here we work in a very narrow specialty: распознавание речи + перевод + поведение агентов. Theorer's formulas came in handy for us, but to build a model of the language, it was enough for us to use only a couple of two or three floors.

The subjects for 2 years were: development for Android, speech recognition and translation, system training (knowledge application based on discrete mathematics!), Work with images, data processing (WEKA), tests (Squash), functional programming (Scala), project management, scrum, C streaming programming, distributed systems (Java EE, message-driven), graphs, agents, XML or C ++ (optional), encryption (in the context of signal transmission), intro to the business environment, and of course, English . We can do without criticism, it was interesting.

The entire learning process is conducted through the university platform, and a special department (Scolarité) deals with administrative issues.

Each student is served on the process of social integration (OFII). All vaccinations are checked, an x-ray of the lungs is done, a basic dialogue is conducted (approximately like at home during a competition). What is good, people from the foreign department do this, so they keep you informed of all the events. In November - January (2 sessions) As a result, certification is pasted into the passport, which we will need to extend the visa without returning home (this will be done in the prefecture of the place of residence).

Otherwise, the semester ends in December, and before the holidays a week of preparation + week of exams is held (5 days, 2 exams per day). At first - hellish mix, after - you get used to it.

If you have filled up the year (average of semesters), then at the choice of the administration you will retake some of the exams. Retake occurs in the summer (end of August, before the defense of experience). With a year after reloads, duplicate the year. You can duplicate the same specialty twice (I have a friend who has been studying at Le Mans for 10 years in different specialties).

In 2018, Macron signed the law on learning success, more details here . If earlier you passed the semester by the average score (having filled up 3 out of 9 subjects, for example), then now everything is like ours: you have filled up 1 - retake. The whole story is connected with the general selection after school, now they say that to enter the first course is full of random.

What is important, and what you need to know (what I was not interested in, because I was stupid) - the presence of mandatory experience in the second semester. The student is obliged to find a company and go with them for at least 3 months to confirm his Master 1. A contract is concluded between the university and the company, so the student himself needs only to undergo an interview.

Why is it important? Because such a model protects the student from all sorts of pitfalls in the contract, a variety of avoiding the payment of money, just bureaucracy and wasting time settling all the little things. We can only say with what date we want to work.

Seniority and beyond

If on an experience everything goes well, and the company is not an ordinary entrance yard and is interested in training young people, then it will offer the student to work 2 weeks-through-2 for the second year of his training (alternance). This is a CDD (Contrat de Durée Déterminée) contract. It is also important that the university supports this model. A separate group of alternants is compiled; they study with a shorter schedule.

There are two models of alternance - training (apprentissage) and professionalization (professionnalisation). Usually, the first version lasts 2 years and is offered for Master 1, while the second is an intensive version of the first, with, in theory, greater responsibilities (for Master 2). Also, with respect to these options, different salaries are offered (depending on years of experience, usually it is not), in the same situation it is +100 euros higher for Pro version, but CAF pays less for us.

Taxes are filled for the month in April and May. While you are a student, or earnings below 10k net, nothing is payable.

Seniority and alternance are protected by a presentation on the work done, at the end of August. For this a separate assessment is made: on Master 2, alternance = semester.

Extension of a visa

If you figured out the dates in this story, you asked this question.

We had different ways.

Usually, 2 months before the end of the visa, you must schedule a rendezvous in the prefecture and start collecting the files. Rendezvous is easy to assign - online, although in different cities in different ways. The dossier includes an extract from your bank (see expenses - replenishment), a diploma (estimates by Master 1) from the university, a photo, a birth certificate.

Since the extension takes place in butt situations, when you still do not know the assessment, a certificate is issued (récépissé), which is a temporary visa and confirms that your file is in the work. There are a lot of stories connected with this reception, for example, it’s better not to fly through Germany - they will either be sent home or imprisoned. Ask in the comments if you would be interested.

After the alternation, we can be offered a working contract (CDI, Contrat de durée Indéterminée). I had it like this. In this case, we change the status from student to employee, and the company usually handles all documents. She, by the way, pays a margin of about € 3-4 thousand for our file.

After changing the status (lasts 3-6 months), we get a visa for a year (it is extended the same way as a regular student visa, the second is usually given for 3 years). There may also be various cases. Some people say that you can’t change a company after a status change for 2-3 years. I have not heard about this. But what I heard - you can not change the profession. Come informatics and become a carpenter - so not a ride. Also, if you ask for a salary of € 36k +, then you can go to passeport talent - you can immediately get a visa for 5-10 years.

Why am I happy as an elephant and who am I working for?

I am a full-stack JS developer, live in Brittany (Rennes). Learned a lot in practice in France, and in theory - here, on Habré.

In every region, IT is actively developing, choose-not-want. Companies are interested in employee growth, and wages, although not comparable with the states, but have their own advantages. For example, medicine is at a level here, and insurance covers almost 100% of expenses. A lot of IT mitapov (met with the creator of Rythm.js ), a lot of startups.

I am socially protected here. It is not easy to dismiss someone here, but if you leave on your own, you have at least 3 months of the odds.

It is very green here, the air is really different. Even in the rules of driving are very worried about excessive pollution. There are a lot of runners, a lot of cyclists (not so much, though, as in the Netherlands).

The sun rises at the beginning of the eighth, and sets at 10-11 (in winter at 8 and 8-9).

What's next?

Personally, I have plans to grow professionally and, at the same time, naturalize.

If this post is of interest to the public, the plans also include a continuation about job search.

If you notice an error, as well as if you are interested in details, I will be happy to answer you in the comments.

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