My experience in France was beyond my expectations. I wish I could go back and re-live it all again because it was fantastic!
Athena Mills-Vingoe, BA Translation and Interpreting with Modern Languages (Double Honours)
Your entry level, the degree programme and honours language(s) you study will determine how you spend your Year Abroad.
- If French is your single honours language, you must spend a minimum of 30 weeks in a francophone country between your second and final year
- If you are a double honours student and are taking French and Spanish from A-Level, you will normally split the year between two countries where those languages are spoken.
- If you are enrolled on a double honours programme and studying French, Spanish or Japanese from below A level, you will spend spend 25 weeks in the country of the weaker language (but continue taking classes in the stronger language) and 10 weeks in the country of your stronger language.
Working as a Teaching Assistant
'I have learnt an incredible amount, not just in terms of linguistic improvement but with regard to the education system and how good students of all different ages are at retaining and expressing what they have been taught. Every day I felt like I was achieving a great deal and making the most of my year abroad as I was always overcoming different challenges.... Being part of the teachers' "huddle" during coffee breaks was one of the best parts when I felt a real member of staff and I would recommend an assistantship to anyone who is thinking of becoming a teacher.'
Zoe Robinson, Translation, Media and French
Teaching assistants are appointed through the British Council. Most placements are in mainland France, but a small number are available outre-mer: Guadeloupe and Martinique, for example, and in Belgium and Québec. The British Council looks for an interest in and a commitment to teaching.
For further details of how to apply and full terms and conditions of being a English language assistant abroad please see the British Council Website.
Studying at a university in France
If you choose to study abroad, we strongly recommend that you go as an Erasmus exchange student. We have exchange agreements with the following French universities and the Faculté de Traduction et d'Interprétation in Geneva for students of interpreting and translation: Clermont-Ferrand, Corte in Corsica, Montpellier 3, Nice , Université de Lorraine , Paris, Pau, Toulouse 2 and Tours.
If you spend the whole year as an Erasmus exchange student, you currently do not pay fees to UEA (reviewed annually) You normally receive an Erasmus grant, study full-time and can still receive your student loan while abroad.
You can of course study for the whole year as an independent student at a non-partner university which might appeal if you want to experience France outre-mer: La Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique, for example. Please contact us for further information if you are interested in this option.
Studying at a university in Geneva
'I have gained a great deal from going to Geneva: you benefit both academically (the standard in the department is second to none) - and many of the lecturers are/have been professional translators, either working for one of the international institutions or freelance, so you gain greater insights into being a translator.'
Keilah Line, French Language with Management Studies
We have a student exchange agreement with the renowned Faculté de Traduction et d'Interprétation in Geneva. If you are going to be studying one of our translation degrees, we recommend you spend the 'French' half of the year abroad there. Your application would be made in the same way as those applying for the Erasmus exchange. For further information please see www.unige.ch.
Work placements in French-speaking countries
You may prefer to spend your time abroad in a work placement, or stage. We already have many contacts with a number of companies but if you have a particular interest, we support you in your search for a placement appropriate to your area of interest. Past student have been very enthusiastic about the benefits of working during their year abroad and find that the skills and experience they have acquired are invaluable when applying for jobs after graduating.
Salaries for stagiaires can be modest, but this is is counterbalanced by the enormous experience you would gain. In the Paris area, you might also receive 50% of the travel card (carte orange). If you choose to find your own work placement you must ensure that you would be speaking French for at least 80% of your time and that you would be doing meaningful work. We issue a signed convention de stage of which you will receive a copy. The convention states the hours of work, your salary, and what you would be doing. You will also receive an Erasmus grant and may be eligible for a tuition fee waiver.
If you want to work during your time abroad, we require that you make a back-up application to a French University.
Feedback from returned students affirms that it pays to make every effort to integrate and to avoid other English-speaking people. At first it might seem difficult to make French friends but those who persist have a much better experience. Never refuse an invitation from French colleagues or students is a piece of advice we hear over and over again!
Students arrange their own accommodation, and receive support from us in preparing for their time abroad. Some assistants are given a room in their school and pay very little for their accommodation, depending on where they are, and some may not pay anything at all, but this is rare.
Whether or not you study as an Erasmus exchange student, you will be able to apply for accommodation before you go. Once your application has been accepted by the host university, you will be sent a form or given a website where you make an online request for accommodation. You can find out more from CNOUS (Centre National des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires)
If you are working you will probably have to find your own accommodation, which the employer might be able to help with. In all cases it is advisable to go a few days early and stay somewhere cheap until you find something. Membership of the YHA would enable you to use hostels abroad and benefit from hostels run by the Fédération Unie des Auberges des Jeunesse. You will receive advice on this in your Year Abroad preparation classes and through meetings with the coordinators.