This is a guest post by Aggy (@dewtraveller) of Dream Explore Wander – an Indonesian traveller who studies and travels throughout Europe. She shares how to get a student visa to Europe for Indonesians.
Europe. It has always been one of my favourite places in the world. I was already seduced by it from my time living in England when I was a kid which is why I have always been obsessed with going back there. But I didn’t want to JUST go back for vacation, I wanted to BE there, to experience the culture, to make friends with the people, to understand the language. Moreover, I wanted to study there in my field of expertise.
I was lucky to have that dream come true back in 2011 when I was given the chance to study in France. The country of love, they say, with food so many people have boasted of. I was excited and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was so happy to be able to come back to France, and not only for a 3-4 days visit but to actually live there.
We all know that France is part of the Schengen area. This is good news for students studying in France since we are able to travel to Schengen countries just by having a French visa (this also apply for visa in other Schengen countries). Just the thought of exploring Schengen countries excite me, there were so many countries in that area which I haven’t yet explored so this would be a great opportunity.
As a student in France from Indonesia, we first need to apply for the visa. The great thing is we don’t need to be too fussed about it since Campus France offers this kind of help to students who are accepted at a French institute. Of course you first need to read the requirements of the documents needed for French visa for students, usually it consists of your acceptance letter, proof of residence, a valid passport, proof of payment (or scholarship), a motivation essay, visa photo and a few more documents. After you have collected all the necessary documents, you will need to make an appointment with Campus France where they will check your documents and see if any of it is missing or unclear. When I was applying for the visa in 2011, they also did a simple interview with me at Campus France to ask things such as my subject of study. The interview was relaxed and quite fun I must admit.
The staff at Campus France will guide you through the process of applying for the visa, you don’t even have to worry to go to the French embassy (for my case in Campus France, Jakarta) since they will take care of that for you. One of the most important things that I noticed during my process was that it was essential for you to take the correct visa picture since the embassy can easily reject your application simply because you did not follow the photo guideline. I also realized that there are only a few photo booths that is able to take visa photos properly. For France, usually the background is white with your whole face shown until your shoulders. The photo should not be edited and it should follow the size given in the guideline. If necessary bring a copy of the guideline to the photo booth and show it to the people there, that’s what I did.
Once your documents have been approved by Campus France, all you need to do is wait. This is the hardest part since you will never know when you will get the visa. Don’t keep asking them when you will have it as this is no longer the responsibility of Campus France, they will let you know when the visa is done. Of course, you can e-mail them every once in a while or when you think you have waited too long, but it is not OK to e-mail them regularly. Also be sure to apply for the visa at most two months before your departure. I was lucky because my VISA finished within less than two weeks, for some it took a month or more. It would also be nice if you could ask your institute or study programme to send a letter stating you have been accepted to the programme to the French embassy in Indonesia, this is what my programme did for me.
Campus France will also prepare a pre-departure party where they will invite and introduce you to some important things regarding living in France and being a student in France. I think this is an excellent idea to get you prepared for living in a totally different environment than Indonesia. Here you can also meet fellow students who will go to France, and if you’re lucky you might find some who will also be in the same city as you.
After gaining your passport, kissing goodbye to your country and whizzed in a plane to the oh-la-la France, don’t forget to go directly to the the international office of your university or straight to the Prefecture of your city where you will need to take care of your residence permit. Without this permit, you are temporarily not allowed to go out of France. You will get an appointment to go for OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration), where you will have a medical check up and also a residence permit stamped on your passport. The international office at my university did a great deal to help me so I didn’t have to go to the Prefecture to make an appointment for OFII.
After getting your residence permit, you have the freedom to explore all 26 Schengen countries. Although you have to always remember, your main goal is study so don’t leave those books on their own for too long! Happy studying!