Hello everybody, after having an excellent time here in Bordeaux, I have decided to let you know some really good advice for those of you that are planning to come here.
No matter if you are not sure about coming, reserve your place in advance. Melting Potes, which is the student organization in charge of helping intâ€™l students, can help you with that. They take a while in answering you, so keep sending emails on a constant basis. Personally, I recommend asking for a flat as soon as you decide to come here. Â During the first week of the semester there are a lot of student looking for other places to live for several reasons â€“ they do not like their actual flat, or they just want one closer to centre ville (downtown).
Having a good place, in other words, a place centrally located, gives you the advantage of having to walk short distances to stores, and tourist areas in case the tram does not work or is in strike (extremely common here). Also, you would be able to walk home when parties are over, because most of them, plus all clubs and bars are in centre ville. Â But if you do not get a flat there, do not worry, it is not the end of the world, and you have several options to compensate for that. For example, you will probably be living closer to the university campus, so you will have more time to sleep before classes.
Basically, there three ways to move around Bordeaux:Â Tram, bus, and public bikes. Tram stops at midnight from Sunday to Wednesday, and at 1:00 am from Thursday to Saturday. After-hours buses usually just work from Thursday to Saturday, which makes it really convenient to use public bikes that are spread around different locations in Bordeaux. In order to have access to all these modes of transportation, I recommend getting the local transportation contract for a year, where you just pay 15 Euros per month to use everything. If you are not staying for a year that is OK, just ask the university administration for a letter saying that you have to depart soon, and you present it in the TBC office (Public transportation bureau) in order to cancel your contract.
You will hear several times that things here are really easy, and that you will have a lot of free time. Well, they are not lying. Comparing this to the U.S., this is not â€œeasyâ€ it is just â€œnot demandingâ€. So, I recommend you, during the time that you are not travelling, get enrolled in the French Alliance, which is international private school to learn French. This will cost 100 Euros per month.
If you are coming here for your last semester, you need to know that your final grades will be sent to UofL after one or two months after you are finished here. Just in case you are planning to get your diploma as soon as possible after the graduation ceremony.
International students are just great; each one has a different background and different life experiences that makes them really interesting people. But also try to make some French friends, this will make your social integration here easier, and of course, you will learn or improve your French much faster. So try to keep a balance between these people, it is always good to have the best of two worlds.
As soon as you arrive, get a copy of your housing contract and go to any bank to open an account, for almost every bureaucratic procedure here, private or public, that involves money, they will ask you for your bank account number â€“Gas, electricity, cable, internet, TBC, etc. And as you will notice here in France, everything takes a considerable amount of time, especially taking in consideration the time for things to get done. And you never know when some union will be in strike, which makes things even worse, so be proactive in this aspect.
Since you will have a lot of free time, It is a great idea to travel, so try to plan in advance and try to travel in groups because by doings you will spread the cost of things among friends, which makes thing cheaper for everybody. Â Also, take in to consideration that strikes are really common here, so you will probably get stuck in some place, since train or airline unions decide to go on a national strike. Just to mention, if you go to Barcelona, PLEASE, watch your stuff, especially your wallet, these guys are more than thieves they are artists at stealing from you, so be aware of that.
That is all have to say for the moment, in conclusion, this have been an excellent experience. So, I recommend preparing yourself to be really sad when you realize that you are going back home soon.