If you have been following my posts, by now you know pretty much everything about Rennes. However, did you know that 20% of its population are students? And that half of them are internationals? Now once on site there is no reason why you won’t feel home!
Generally, exchange students via Erasmus or any other bilateral programs have better preparation seminars and follow-ups than those coming on their own. Keeping that in mind, I’d like to present you with basic, general, real life tips. Let’s start!
1- “Le verlan” – French backward slang
Here is the truth, among friends French don’t speak the literary language we (foreigners) have been taught. They speak “verlan” and other type of slangs. For example, “femme” (woman) becomes “meuf” or “louche” (shady) becomes “chelou”. Now you know learning French the correct way isn’t enough. You have to learn it backwards as well!
2- Facing the French administration
It must be said; the French administration will ruin your happiest days. Challenge #1: having all necessary documents – which is impossible from the first try since they never state clearly what they want. Challenge #2: showing up at the right hour – every office has its own opening hours so show up at 9.00 am or don’t even bother. Challenge #3: processing delays take a lifetime – a minimum of two months’ wait is in order. My advice: arm yourself with patience.
3- Finding accommodation
To put a roof over your head two options present themselves: CROUS (university dorms) or private renting and in both cases securing your future home is the hardest part. For the CROUS don’t forget to apply 8 months earlier whereas for the private sector have a guarantor ready to provide any required documents.
4- This is not France. This is Brittany!
Rennes is the historical capital of Brittany, at one time an independent kingdom from France with a distinct culture and language. Many see themselves as “Breton” (a person born in Brittany) first and French second. The proof lays with the “Breton” black and white flag and coat of arms being present everywhere; street signs are written in French and “Breton” and sometimes you will even hear words like “kenavo” (goodbye).
Last but not least, if you ever decided to visit for any reason (studying, tourism …) I recommend the following route:
in Paris Charles de Gaulle – it is a major international airport served my
numerous airlines (cheapest flights – most of the time). Plus, unlike other
Parisian airports, Charles de Gaulle has its own train station located within
from “Gare d’Aéroport CDG 2 TGV” to Rennes leave throughout the day. It takes
two to three hours depending on the line. Train tickets might be expensive (up
to 80 euros in August). Here is the tip to save money: if you are under 29
years old, don’t buy your tickets online. Once at the airport, bear with the
queue at the ticketing office and ask for the youth discount card (50% off). This
card is eligible to all nationalities, effective immediately and free for the
first year; all you need is your passport!
For further information, here is the link to the International Mobility Centre of Rennes.
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