A Student in Stone Age France


By Daisy Lacey, MA , Comparative Literatures and Cultures

The Croft Magazine//It seems we ought to be more grateful for British bureaucracy, as we are transported back to Daisy Lacey's days in France. But rest assured that there was a lot more to life than paperwork - there was pamplemousse rosé too.

Once upon a time, 6 years ago, I was rushing around like a headless chicken trying to decide where I will be spending my Erasmus exchange. This little piece will detail how I spent my year abroad in one of France’s most underrated cities: Nantes.

Such a good city that the band Beirut even named a song after it! 

When I finally chose to study at the Université there, our exchange warned us about the bureaucracy, saying ‘it is like going back in time to the 1970s - you will have to do a lot of running around looking for your classes, and the luxuries of online timetables will not be available to you’.

For the future students who go to France, swap the 70’s for the stone age for a more apt description of French bureaucracy. My Granny told me right from the start that you can’t rush l’heure. If you want to get any paperwork done, you have to follow to customs of the French; you will need to purchase several ring-back folders to keep your paperwork in there. You will have to be prepared for not only an insubordinate amount of paper, but patience as well.

What might be headed your way...Unsplash/Christa Dodoo

I will say, though, there are certain things that are worth the torture of French Bureaucracy – for example, applying for the housing benefit known as CAF. If you are willing to suffer the paperwork, you will benefit from a significant reduction on your rent, giving you more money to explore other cities, such as my old Erasmus stomping ground Nantes.

My parting thoughts are as follows: you are bound to go through some very difficult times whilst abroad, but I can assure you outgoing students that whilst your host country may be very stuck in their ways, worshiping a fax machine, the hosts themselves will try their best to be patient with you.

They have dealt with this hassle for years, and will have seen everything.
The one thing that the host countries want is for you to make the most of your time in their country and to indulge in all aspects of their culture.

So those of you going out to France, treat yourself to a bottle of pamplemousse rosé - even though the French have increased the rate of tax on this liquid gold - and/or take a deep breath if the bureaucracy gets too much to bear. Once I managed to do this, I lived happily ever after in Nantes (for the rest of the year).

Featured Image credit:Unsplash/Dorian Le Sénéchal

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