Having a gap year is a fantastic opportunity to take a break from textbooks and learn some of life’s lessons. Often when studying, you can become too focused on academic pursuits and not learn some of the essential skills you will need throughout the rest of your life.
A gap year is a great way to have a break from studying and learn about new cultures, people, and languages. France is a very popular gap year destination for students who need a break, as it is famous for its fashion, culture, and food so has something to offer any type of student. France has so much to offer and is a great place to enjoy a gap year and develop your personal education. However, if you are considering a gap year in France then you should make sure that you are organized and well prepared by following this checklist.
Learn the Language
You should try to learn as much as you can of the French language before you head off to France for your gap year, as not only will it make your time there much easier when it comes to communicating, but it is also very useful to have an additional language on your CV. Students are often concerned about their employability, and the ability to speak any other language makes you an appealing candidate for any job.
While many French people speak a couple of languages, the locals in the more rural areas may only be able to speak their native tongue, so you will struggle to interact if you don’t pick up some common phrases. The French language isn’t too difficult to master if you try hard, but you should be sure to master the French subjective in order to successfully learn to speak the language. Learn more here about the French language and help on how to learn it.
Find Some Work
If you are lucky enough then you may have enough money from your savings or your parents that will enable you not to have to work while you are away in France on your gap year. But many students who take a year out abroad find some form of employment in order to help their financial situation while they are away from home.
You will have to check out the different rules regarding your visa to ensure that it permits you to work, but if you can, then you should think about getting a job in France while you are away. Bar and restaurant work are very popular forms of employment amongst gap year students as they are transferable from different countries.
Plan Your Itinerary
While you are away you should be sure to make the most of your new surroundings and plan an itinerary so that you can enjoy everything that France has to offer. While some gap year students decide to stay in one place for their whole stay, others prefer to move around French cities so they can experience different ways of life. Paris and the Eiffel tower are two of the more obvious places you should plan to visit while you are in France. But if you are a history student then you may want to visit the Somme Battlefields and pay tribute to those who lost their lives fighting in the second world war.
Try to arrange your accommodation before you head off to France for your gap year, as you don’t want to find yourself homeless when you arrive. House shares and hostels are a good choice for gap year students, as renting an apartment can be expensive and some forms of accommodation want you to sign a contract for more than a year when you first move in.
You should be sure to investigate some of the popular places for gap year students to stay in France, as you will benefit from meeting people of a similar age to you who come from different areas of the world.
Register with the French authorities
Depending on where in the world you are coming from, you should be sure to register with the French authorities about your plans to enjoy a gap year in their country. Some nationalities require a special visa that only a French authority can provide you with if you plan to stay in the country for longer than three months. You should investigate whether you need a residence permit or a French visa before you go and find out whether it allows you to work or not.
Whether or not you can work in France will depend on what sort of visa you have and sometimes you will be required to find a job and show proof of that job before you move. However, often gap year students work on a freelance basis in France, as reforms to French law in 2015 made this an easier way to earn money during your time away.
Set up a Bank Account
In order to make payments and receive money during your year away, you should open a French bank account before you go. You will likely need one if you want to earn wages or pay rent while you are away. You may be able to open a bank account in France through your current bank, so be sure to inquire with your chosen bank beforehand. However, you are likely to need your passport or some other form of ID to prove that you are who you claim to be before you can open the account.
It is mandatory to have health insurance in France, so you must make sure that you have organized this before you go away in order to access the French health care system. You should also find out whether your visa allows you access to this when you go through the process.
By ensuring that you are well prepared for a gap year in France you can make the most out of the experience of a lifetime.