France, situated Western Europe, is a country that encompasses medieval cities, tranquil villages, mountains, Mediterranean beaches and modern metropolitan centers. Paris, its capital, is known worldwide for its fashion, architecture, history, classical art, and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is also renowned for its sophisticated cuisine and its wines. Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, Lyon’s Roman theater and the immense Palace of Versailles are testaments to its long history.
As one of the centrally located countries in Western Europe, and as home to rich history in the arts, it's not hard to understand why France, and specifically its capital city Paris, is one of the most popular study abroad destinations for students. Go for the Eiffel Tower and the Lourve, and stay to perfect your Francophone skills and to taste everything this culinary capital has to offer.
No trip to France would be complete without seeing famous venues and landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre. There is however, more to see than the City of Lights. The Loir valley is a region of France known for its great wine and chateaus. Southern France is home to some of the world’s most popular and beautiful beaches.
There are many scholarships to fund your study abroad experience. Here is a list of Diversity Abroad scholarships available for study in this country:
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Also, here are some links to potential opportunities for students who have studied abroad and graduates interested in work opportunities in France.
Note: These tips are intended to serve as an overview and are not exhaustive. Be sure to research your destination thoroughly as your identity can have a significant impact on your experience abroad
Historically, France has seen great a dark periods in regards to race relations. It was one of the first European countries to abolish slavery, but also denied blacks citizenship. Paris, was particularly a place a refuge for black Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Despite this, you will still experience occasional instances of discrimination. There are negative stereotypes similar to those in the US and significant Xenophobia, especially with the increasing number of immigrants from Africa. Cities like Paris however, are progressive and diverse enough so that you should not have any major issues.
Most hispanic and latino students will likely be assumed to be Spanish or identified as an American tourist. There are still instances of racism and prejudiced based on skin complexion and country of origin.
People of Asian descent make up a much smaller population than people of African or Hispanic descent. Because of this, there will often be an assumption that you are a tourist, specifically from China or Japan. Because of this, you may experience some condescending comments along with stares.
France is very accepting of LGBT communities, and same-sex civil unions have been legally recognized since 1999. Across the country are a variety of gay establishments like bars, businesses, and clubs that exist, especially in Paris. You will, of course, occasionally come across prejudiced people, but generally, you will enjoy a trouble-free environment.
Generally, cities like Paris are modern and have accommodations for people with disabilities at historic sites and on public transportation. Accommodations are less available in rural cities and facilities not maintained by the government. Despite this, many disabled persons in France find that health care and services specifically for people with disabilities lag behind those available in other European countries. As always, you should carefully plan ahead to make sure your lodging and destinations are equipped with the necessary accommodations.
Like other European countries, France has a strong Roman Catholic background. Despite this, most French are not particularly religious. Christian students will find fewer Protestant places of worship than Catholic ones. There are also very small Buddhist and Hindu populations in major metropolitan centers. Muslim students should be aware of growing Islamophobia and xenophobia as many refugees leave the Middle East and North Africa. You will often experience stares, disrespectful comments, and even harassment.
Hear from a Diversity Abroad Alumni who studied Abroad in France!
Although French society can be very progressive, the country has been criticized as being one of the worst in Western Europe for women’s rights and equality. You will probably not experience any higher level of overt disrespect than at home. However, be aware that the wage gap and representation of women in positions of authority and academia lag behind men at a level that you would not expect in a Westernized country.
Are you ready for France? Here are few essential resources to help make your trip a success:
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"Like most tourist cities, you should be aware of scams and pickpocketors in Paris. I witnessed some ugly stares as I visited the Eiffel Tower as well, but nothing that would prevent me from enjoying my time there. My experience was much better in Tours, France where there is a larger North African influence and a more diverse and progressive atmosphere due to the university there and the younger demographic. I also enjoyed touring the wine trails and the chateaus in the region, especially Vilandry. It is a must see." - Byron, Content Contributor
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