International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987

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Culture Corner

Currency

The Euro is the official currency of France, and of most European Union member states, excluding the UK and the Czech Republic, among others. The Euro, symbolized by a "€," has been in public circulation since January, 2002. The franc, the former official currency of France, is no longer accepted, however, you may see that some price tags in France give the price both in Euro and in francs, to help those who still think in terms of francs.

There are 8 different Euro coin denominations and 7 different Euro bill denominations in circulation. Coins are denominated in 2 and 1 Euro, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each member state decorated their own coins, but all coins are interchangeable within the countries. Bills are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and they vary in color and size.

Conversion Rates

What is the Euro worth compared to the dollar? With the Euro in constant flux, please see www.oanda.com for up-to-date exchange rates. While traveling, it may be helpful to carry a portable currency converter (found at travel stores). Sometimes in the form of a key-chain, this is a handy gadget (like a calculator) into which you enter the exchange rate (depending on the exchange rate at the time and the country in which you are located) save, and then simply enter prices and the device converts the amounts into dollars.

Cost of Living

While Paris can be expensive to the untrained traveler, there are many ways to live comfortably on a budget, if you pay attention to what you spend and look out for different deals and events offered throughout the city. The ISA Paris office also has several books and other resources (including Parisians, themselves!) that can help you get by living in Paris while still taking advantage of what the great city has to offer.

Budgeting
Former students have given us some idea of what you should expect to spend per week while in France. Due to the change in exchange rates and vast differences in individual spending habits, we can only give you estimated figures. However, most students seem to spend around $250 per week. This figure does not include extra traveling, heavy shopping, or frequent restaurant dining. Please keep in mind that some students spend less and others spend more.

It is a good idea to have some cash upon arrival in Lille exchanged into Euros (you can do this at a bank in the United States), but for the most part using an ATM machine abroad or using a credit card is the best option, especially for exchange rates. You may not be able to use your credit card everywhere in Lille, so it's always good to carry some cash.

When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better to overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will incur, please see the brief list below.

  • Carte Navigo: ~62€ / month
  • Coffee: ~2-4€ each
  • Sandwich/Panini/Crêpe: 4-6€ each
  • Entertainment: 20-40€ / week (varies greatly per student)
  • Souvenirs: 5-20€ per item
  • Restaurant/cafés: 15-20€ (moderately priced restaurant)

Additional Estimated Expenses

The ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. To view what is included in your program price, please visit the "What's Included" section of the ISA Paris program page.

The "Additional Estimated Expenses" sheet in the "Accepted Students" section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:

  • Airfare
  • Books & Supplies
  • Meals (if applicable)
  • Visas/Passports
  • Passport (new/renewal)
  • Student Visa (if applicable)
  • Personal Travel

ISIC Card

The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals, and more. ISA students who purchase a flight through STA are eligible to receive an ISIC card.