I have applied for a PhD position with the Institut Curie/Universite Paris-Sud. For a while I have been considering a PhD, the ideal situation I washoping for was to do a PhD in the UK and then do a postdoc in France,possibly with the Institut Curie so I couldn't believe my luck that theyare not only advertising for a PhD student but the project is one which is right in my area of interest! I couldn't not apply for it and the supervisor seems to be interested in my CV. I get really nervous at interviews, so to make sure I don't mess up again, I've done a lot of reading on how the French education system works and since I have a Masters, I have been reassured that I am eligible to apply. The supervisor of the project has generously given me a reading list of the group's work, I've done some background reading on the group's webpage and I feel pretty confident that if I was offered an interview I could discuss their project well and bring in my ideas for my future career. So I think I'm pretty well prepared in that sense.
However, I was wondering if anyone has had any experience of study in France itself, such as a placement, ERASMUS year etc just so, if they ask, I comprehend completely what I would be getting myself into, should I be successful? For example, I realise that one has to get on top of the administrative side of things very quickly for starters and that the libraries need some serious navigational skills! :D Or better yet, are there any French students here who could tell me what studying for them has been like? Any tips would be very much appreciated!
Merci beaucoup! XD
hi! I have been through an erasmus, I did a joint european MSc. But not in France. I went to Espana.
Tips for your phd interview:
They could ask you about the project and what you thought about it; why you're interested, how would you do it and how would you expand it, and the possible future contributions..
..about your current academics; what you did before..
..what contributions would you bring to the Research Team (at Curie institut)
About the administrative side, there's really nothing to worry about. You wont have any problems navigating in the library.
Tips when you receive your offer:
Learn some basic french (at least enough for you to go to the market to buy vegetables, shoes etc.)
Learn how to count in french (thats very useful)
Learn words for directions (in case you are lost)
You wont face any difficulties in the university, but outside the university, you might.
When I was in Spain, at first the language was very difficult. Where I lived, even the policemen, doctors, dentists did not speak any english. I couldn't express myself effectively. I went to see a lady dentist to replace a filling, and simply trusted her.
In Madrid sometimes people short-changed me (!) because they thought I couldnt count. Even at Madrid (Barajas) airport, the guy wrapping plastic for luggage short-changed me (!!!), but I had learnt to speak words of colours so I told him I had given him a BLUE euro note and should receive more change. The pharmacist at Puerto Real did the same thing to me, I marched back there and told his colleague (in halting broken spanish) that he had charged me 20.10eur for something that cost 10.50eur. So you see, numbers are very important.
good luck, satchi
you're in luck - i did an erasmus year in france, at the universite de paris sud! i believe they have different campuses though, i was based south of paris in a town called orsay, don't know if you'll be at the same one?
so, a few pointers to help you out:
yes, this can seem a huge and daunting barrier to start with, but as long as you have the basics and at least try to speak some french, the vast majority of people will be willing to help you out, and the french love english speakers! i studied biochemistry in french for a year and worked in a lab - science is the best thing to do in another language, as the majority of words are exactly the same, just said with a different accent :p this makes life much easier when studying/reading french books and literature. people may also expect you to sepak in french with them in the lab, but don't worry, you'd be surprised how quickly you pick it up.
The admin in France is a nightmare, to put it bluntly! when i went, they demanded all sorts of paperwork (including my birth certificate translated into french, which was a real hassle to organise), and then when i got there they couldn't have cared less! no one asked for any of the documents i had been told i had to have. they are ridiculously slow at getting anything organised admin-wise, and basically if you ask for anything you just get a typical parisian shrug ;-) this can be frustrating, but as soon as you learn to just go with the flow and not worry about these things, then it will be a lot easier! basically the french think all admin is pointless, and so it takes forever and a lot of pestering to achieve anything. as for the library, well it was rubbish, so thank god for the internet! i wouldn't rely on the library being of any use whatsoever to be honest!
3) Lab work
The universite de paris sud was horrendously badly equipped when i was there (2003-2004), but this doesn't seem to cause any major problems. coming from a uk uni, the labs seemed shockingly old fashioned and basic, so don't be expecting any high-tech equipment! if you get to go over there for an interview, ask to be shown round and you can have a look and see what you think. it wasn;t just the labs - the whole of the campus was pretty old fashioned, and you didn't even get a student card, just a folded piece of card with your name on!
4) Living in France
Although my previous points may make it seem as if i am a bit negative about the whole thing, in fact the exact opposite is true! the year i spent there was absolutely amazing, and i would do it again in a heartbeat. it's a bit of a culture shock certainly, and everything is done so differently from over here, but once you get used to it you should have the time of your life! learning another language, immersing yourself in another culture, and getting to live in paris is an incredible opportunity and i am very jealous! so best of luck (up)
======= Date Modified 06 Apr 2009 15:12:59 =======
Ahh brilliant stuff, thankyou so much for your replies!
Orsay is a lovely but very small town, very typically 'french'! there's a little lake and cute little shops and the odd bar, and it felt very safe to live there. i lived in halls on campus, which were VERY cheap but not really to be recommended, unless they have had a revamp since i was there! be warned however, 'just outside' paris means a good half hour train journey, so you don't really feel like you're living in paris at all. train travel is really cheap though, and the uni campus is about a minute walk from the station! we went into paris pretty much every weekend.
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