AIFS Partnership Programs: Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

Customized, Faculty-led Study Abroad

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium
not your school?

Paris, France

Fall 2014

Frequently Asked Questions

Transportation
Housing
Culture
Money
Communication
General

Transportation

Do I have to take the AIFS flight?
No. However, bear in mind that if you purchase the AIFS transportation package, the transatlantic flight will be provided with round-trip airport transfers. You will be met at the airport on arrival and taken to your residence. At the end of the program if you leave on the group flight on the group departure date, you will be picked up from your residence and taken to the airport.

Can I change my return flight once I am in Paris?
Maybe. For a fee and subject to airline approval and availability, you may try to change your return flight. You must contact the flight agent office directly. Only date changes are allowed; there can be no changes to the routing, and there will be an airline-imposed fee which could be as high as $150. If you have a connecting flight in the US, you must check whether you are able to change that, as some cannot be changed. Please note that once you receive your ticket, it is your property and therefore AIFS staff cannot make the changes for you.

Housing & Meals

Where will I live?
There are three housing options.

The main option is the FIAP (Foyer International d'Accueil a Paris). Students are housed mainly in twin rooms with an en suite bathroom comprising of shower, sink and toilet. Each room is designed in such a way so that each student has their own section with bed, wardrobe, desk and shelves giving as much privacy as possible. The rooms are small as is the case with most Parisian accommodation but they are modern and nicely furnished. There may be the odd triple room due to unequal numbers but they are furnished in the same way.

Option two is to stay in a limited number of small, self catered studio apartments within a thirty minute commute from the FIAP. Two people will share a room with private bathroom. There is also a small kitchen area where students may prepare their own meals. Once again, the rooms will be compact as is most Parisian accommodation.

The final option is a shared room in a Parisian homestay. What better way to discover Paris than staying with the locals? You will share a twin room with another student and have kitchen access at mutually agreed times.

Can I have a single room?
There is sometimes a limited number of singles available for a supplemental fee. Students should contact the AIFS Connecticut office with individual requests. Single rooms are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Can I move into my accommodations before the program starts if I am arriving in Paris early?
AIFS cannot supply you with accommodation until the official start date of the program, however, if you do arrive early you are welcome to make a reservation at the FIAP as a private guest and pay them directly as you would any hotel or hostel.

Can I cook in my accommodations?
Cooking is an option, depending on the type of housing you have requested. If you stay at the FIAP then you are automatically part of the meal plan and have meals provided - there are no cooking facilities in the FIAP for students. If you choose to stay in the studios then you will have limited cooking facilities and not be part of the meal plan. Students may buy meals at the FIAP should they so desire. In a homestay you will be provided with breakfast daily and will be given kitchen access to prepare lunch and dinner.

Can I choose my own roommate?
Yes. Simply write the name of the person on your AIFS program application form and make sure your friend does the same. Alternatively if you decide to room with someone after your application has been submitted write a letter to the AIFS Connecticut office stating your roommate choice.

How is my roommate chosen?
We allocate roommates based on the information given on the AIFS program application forms filled in by every student. Firstly we look to see if a student has requested a particular roommate, if they have we house them with that person. We then put students with similar routines together i.e. those who get up early, go to bed late etc. taking particular care not to room smokers with non-smokers. Finally we look at the interests people mention on the application form and try to match them with those who share them. This is why students should always fill out the housing section of the application form honestly and with as much information as possible.

When will I find out who my roommate is?
Rooming and apartment assignments will be handed out upon arrival in Paris.

Are the rooms coed?
No. Male and female students may share the same corridor in either of the accommodation options but the actual rooming assignments will be same sex. If you have a friend of the opposite sex coming on the program please note this on the application form and we will try and place them in a nearby room.

Can I have overnight guests?
No. For security and insurance reasons, only authorized occupant(s) are allowed to sleep in AIFS accommodation. Staff can help you make reservations for guests in suitable places nearby. Security guards do patrol and will ask non residents to leave the building if they are found on the accommodation floors. Visitors are welcome in the ground floor common areas until midnight.

Are meals provided?
It depends on your chosen housing option. If you choose to stay at the FIAP you will have breakfast everyday and 5 other meals (lunch or dinner) a week. Breakfast is in the restaurant on the first floor called the Francilien. It is a typical continental breakfast and consists of cereals, breads, croissants, juice, tea and coffee. Every week you will be issued with your meal tickets and you should hand one in to the waiters whenever you have breakfast. Your other meals will be in the European restaurant on the ground floor. This is a self-service restaurant.

The food is of a high standard for cafeteria style cooking but students should realize that the food will be different than back home. French cooking has a lot of rich sauces and there may be things on the menu that you are not used to eating, however, do experiment. Most people find there is always something they like in the selection.

If you decide to stay outside the FIAP then you will not be part of the meal plan. You will still be able to eat at the FIAP but will need to pay on a meal by meal basis (The Self Service Restaurant accepts Cash and Credit Cards). There are numerous cafes, sandwich stores and places to eat close to the FIAP study center.

Is bed linen provided?
Yes. Linen is provided and changed at least once a week in all housing options.

Are towels provided?
Yes. These are changed at least once a week. However, they are only for use within your Paris residence. So if you are traveling please bring your own for use in hostels etc.

Are there laundry facilities available?
Yes. In both residences there is a small laundromat in the building. Tokens and powder can be bought on site. There is also an iron and ironing board available. However, there are only limited machines so you may have to wait. It is often more convenient to pop to the larger laundromat approx. 5 minutes walk away. In the homestays you will have limited access to the washing machine.

Will I have a telephone in my room?
Yes, this is principally for incoming calls. Please note that the reception desks of the residences will not put calls through to your room after midnight because other people are sleeping so please make friends and family are aware of this. People do forget especially when they do not take into account the time difference. If you do wish to make calls from the phone in your room you can ask at reception to open the outgoing line by placing a minimum of 10€ or a credit card onto your account. They will give you a personal code so you and your roommate can use the same phone but still have individual accounts and pay separately. This means there is less confusion and no cause for payment disputes. To check your credit, simply enquire at reception. You can use calling cards in conjunction with this system but do need to open the account with 10€ or a credit card even if it is unused and reimbursed at the end of your stay. Pay phones are available in your residence and on the street nearby. Most students now purchase inexpensive cell phones and information will be given upon arrival on how to do this.

Will I be able to use my electrical appliances e.g. hairdryer in Paris?
Only with an adapter and converter. Appliances designed to operate in the US may not operate in Paris unless they are fitted with a dual voltage switch or used with a converter. Also the electrical sockets are different in Europe so you will need an adapter plug to fit in the appliance. If you are unsure how to convert equipment it is essential that you seek advice from an AIFS staff member before using it. It may be better to purchase an inexpensive hairdryer/straightener of the correct voltage and plug once you have arrived in Paris instead of bringing them with you. You may be able to get something for about $25 and why not share the cost with your roommate.

Can I choose to make my own living arrangements instead of living in AIFS accommodation?
This is only possible if you have close friends or relatives living in Paris. There is a reduced fee for arranging your own housing, but the money saved will not be adequate to pay for housing you would find on your own in the short term rental market. If you wish to choose this option, you must first provide details of your relatives or close friends to the program coordinator at your school. The program coordinator must authorize the living arrangement. You must also notify AIFS on your program application form that you do not require housing and provide a contact address in Paris to enable us to reach you in an emergency.

Can I change my housing option after I have sent my application form to AIFS?
No. We have to book accommodation very far in advance and it is not possible to make changes after applications have been accepted.

What is the FIAP?
The FIAP (Foyer International d'Accueil a Paris) is an international welcome center aimed at students. It has space for 500 overnight guests, has many classrooms, conference rooms, 2 restaurants, a café bar, TV rooms, tourist information, terrace and many other facilities. It welcomes many international students throughout the year and is an ideal environment to live and study in. Not only will you meet many foreign students but you will also see various conferences, art exhibitions and musical evenings all in the FIAP.

Where is the FIAP?
The FIAP is at 30 Rue Cabanis. It is in the 14th arrondissement in Paris and is just south of the Latin Quarter. The nearest metro station is "Glacière."

Culture

What events will be on the cultural calendar?
There will be a large variety of events on the calendar making use of all the resources Paris has to offer. Included will be opera, ballet, walking tours, concerts, cheese and wine evenings.

Are these events good value for the money?
Yes. The ticket prices are subsidized by your program fees and the original price that we pay is also lower than you could get on your own due to us being able to book in advance, get group discounts and using our contacts in Paris.

Will there be trips?
Yes. We plan to offer a weekend trip to Normandy and the D-Day beaches and another to the Loire Valley. You can sign up for these trips once you arrive in Paris and you must pay in Euros. We will try to get the best possible price for these trips and believe them to be good value. Full itineraries will be available once you arrive in Paris and sign ups will begin in the first week so we know how many people we need to book for. There will also be various day trips such as Chartres and Giverny.

Money

How much money will I need?
This very much depends on individual tastes. However, AIFS recommends that students budget $600-$800 per month for day to day needs. This would allow for some theatre visits and excursions but not for extensive overseas travel or expensive purchases.

In what form should I bring money?
Credit cards and ATM cards are the safest and simplest ways to carry money. If you do not already have a credit card we recommend that you get one and make sure you get a PIN for it in case you need to make emergency cash advances.

Perhaps the most efficient method of accessing your money is the use of cash dispenser networks. The American Plus, Cirrus and Star networks can be accessed from the cash dispensers of several of the high street banks in France, allowing cash to be withdrawn from a US bank account if you have a card which is linked to one of these systems. You should check with your local bank for ATM capabilities in Europe and make sure you get a four digit PIN number from them before leaving the US. However, do not rely on this method as your only means of accessing money. Bring a VISA Travel Money card, and a credit card and use a combination of all three.

If you run out of money while you are in Paris, AIFS staff can give you detailed information about how to have money sent quickly from the US. Money Orders can take up to six weeks to cash, but Western Union offers a service that will transfer money from the US to Europe instantly. Although there is a transaction charge this is a very useful service if you need money quickly.

Communication

What is my mailing address?
The address of the AIFS study center/classrooms is:
Name
C/O AIFS
FIAP Jean Monnet
30 Rue Cabanis
75014 Paris
France

There are alphabetical mailboxes at reception where mail and messages from AIFS staff, other students and faculty will be left for you. There is also a notice board by the office that you should check daily. This will tell you if you have received a parcel, a fax or a phone message has been taken for you.

How should people contact me?
You can receive mail as indicated above and you can also receive faxes free of charge at the reception. To send a fax from the US, your friends/family should dial 011 33 1 43 13 17 07. You can also send faxes to the US from the AIFS Student Services office. Prices will be given to students upon arrival.

If people wish to call you they should call the reception of your residence (numbers will be given on arrival). When they get through they should clearly state your name and room number and the staff will transfer the call to your room. This will not be done after midnight due to noise problems and if you are not in the staff will take a message 24 hours a day. Most reception staff speak English but please remind friends and family to talk clearly and slowly if leaving a message so that it is taken correctly.

Will I have access to a computer/email?
Both residences have free wireless in the common areas for use with your laptops. 

General

Do I need a visa?
If you are a US citizen you do not need a visa to study in France if they are only staying 90 days or less. If you plan on staying in Europe longer then you will require a visa and should consult your nearest embassy. If you are not a US citizen you should check with the French Embassy in the US to see if you require a visa to visit France. All students should check to see if they need visas for any countries they may want to visit during independent travel. US citizens do not currently need a visa for any of the countries visited on the optional orientation tour of Europe.

What should I take with me?
Not too much! Paris is a crowded city and closet space is limited. Every semester students find that they bring clothing that they never wear and toiletries etc. that they could have easily bought in Paris.

If you are on medication you should bring enough to last you for the program as well as a prescription in case you lose any.

The weather in Paris can be unpredictable so you should bring some warm clothing with you. It is best to bring clothes that you can "layer" so that they are appropriate for all weathers. You should also bring a waterproof coat and an umbrella.

You will probably do a lot more walking than you are used to so you should bring comfortable shoes. You will not need much "dressy" clothing but do bring a couple of outfits for the opera or ballet. Full evening dress is not required but it is nice for females to wear a dress and men not to wear jeans.
More detailed information about what to bring will be provided at the pre-departure orientation.

How will I travel around Paris?
Paris has a very extensive bus and subway network (metro) which makes traveling around very easy. Upon arrival, AIFS staff will give you a "Navigo". This is a travel pass that allows unlimited travel on the metro and the buses in Paris.  This does not give you access to the suburbs, you will have to pay extra if you want to travel outside of the center but staff will explain this in more detail when you arrive.  You will be given a metro map and information on how to use the system and routes to take.  

In order to purchase the travel passes in advance we must have a photo. Therefore it is essential that, as requested in the program application information, you send in recent passport type pictures with your application form. If we do not receive you photos in advance, we will be unable to purchase the pass and it will not be ready for you upon arrival in Paris.

Can I buy textbooks and course related materials in Paris?
You can buy paper, files etc in Paris, but we do advise you to purchase your textbooks in the US and bring them with you. Paris does have some English language bookstores but it is doubtful that they will have the exact edition that your faculty requires. They will also be more expensive than your campus bookstore. Your campus store may also buy back your books when you return. Enquire when you make your purchases.

What happens if I get sick while I am in Paris?
If you need to see a doctor while you are in Paris, you should contact the AIFS staff who will make an appointment for you. We have lists of the English speaking doctors in Paris and also the local ones near to the FIAP. If you see a French speaking doctor a staff member can accompany you if you want help with translating. All students have the AIFS medical insurance which is valid for the duration of the program. You should carefully read the insurance information sent to you after your application is accepted as there are some conditions which are not covered. The main exclusions to the policy are pre-existing conditions, self-inflicted injuries, pregnancy testing, abortion or related complications. This is not an exhaustive list so read the insurance carefully. There is a deductible of $50 per accident/illness on this policy.

When you arrive in Paris, you will be given details of the insurance policy procedures. You will need to pay up front for any treatment and medication you receive and then claim it back minus the $50 deductible.

What sports facilities are available?
Other than table tennis, the FIAP does not have any in-house sports facilities. However, there are a few gyms nearby and swimming pools. Details will be available to any interested students from the AIFS Student Services office. Please note that gyms can be a lot more expensive in Paris than what you are used to paying back home. There is also a park nearby for those who like to run and some basketball courts. Student Services can also look into other sporting facilities for students who have specific interests.

Can I work when I am in Paris?
It is illegal to work in France unless you have a work permit. If you do want to stay and work after the program you will need to apply for a work permit before you leave the US. It cannot be done once you are in France.

Will I meet French students?
Yes, if you want to. Although you will be in class with your fellow American students, these classes are all held in the FIAP. The FIAP has students of many nationalities visiting including French students from other regions.