Our students share their experiences

Who is Raphaëlle?

Raphaëlle Olive Claude is a 25-years-old Franco-Cameroon student studying at the Institute of Environmental Technologies (IET) in Lyon. She is doing her first year of Professional Master in Environment.

She has quite a “hectic” academic background. Born in Cameroon, she attended primary school there and at 12 years old she flew to Gabon. After some years, she left for Chad where she completed her secondary education.

Then she left Chad for Senegal – her favorite country so far – where she graduated from the ISM (Higher Institute of Management). Having fallen in love with Senegal, she lived there for three years developing projects that promoted African arts and helping innovate learning education arts.

In September 2016, she arrived in Lyon for her first year of Preofessional Master at IET.

Indeed, not everyone has such an academic pathway! Why did you choose to pursue your studies in France? And why did you change from art promotion to something totally different: environment?

I have chosen France because of the accreditation and recognition of its schools and also because I have part of my family already there.  

Doing environmental studies is just another way of contributing to development in Africa. Through my studies here, I want to acquire European expertise in this field and later on, go back to Senegal to help rural development and doing consulting in certification.

Moreover, the environmental sector is growing – especially in Africa – and there are more and more job opportunities in this sector.

Tell us about your arrival in France.

I had never been to France before. I arrived in Lyon in September 2016 and I was surprised because it was not as I imagined.

Life here is very demanding. For example, French people are very keen on punctuality, presence or being well-mannered and professional in all situations. People seem to live by the French motto “Vite Fait, mais Bien Fait” and I admire it.

On the other hand, people are also too absorbed in their world. Sometimes they are so focused in their personal duties that they tend be cold to others.

Finally, meeting my family was an extraordinary moment, especially seeing my 93 years old grand-mother for the first time in my life.

How was your integration in France?

It was a cultural shock. I have realized that one needs to constantly inquire about others to show interest in people. Personally, showing that you care for someone is mostly demonstrated through actions rather than just asking questions.

There is more communication in the sense that to show interest, it is necessary to continually ask questions and be more open about your own life.

At school, at the beginning it was difficult to adapt with the classmates as there were tensions in the class. We are only 10 students but several groups were created within us. It was mainly due to our far different backgrounds but in the end after co-working on several projects, a good atmosphere was established in the class.

What do you think of your program at IET and the René Cassin campus?

The program is great and I like the curriculum’s part that deals with quality certification, energy, social responsibility and accreditations. On the other hand, the common core with IDRAC Business School (Finance, Control and Management) is really not my cup of tea!

The campus is great!

Some advice for those who want to study in France?

Yes, two simple words: BE WELL-INFORMED!

It is necessary to understand the program and the school you are choosing, to be sure this is really where you want to build your career. As we know, many students get enrolled on a course then after one year they quit to change for a different study field.

Similarly, do not rely at 100 % on your school to look for your internship or your company if you wish to go ahead with an apprenticeship during your second year.

Same for cost of living: you need to look before you actually arrive in France ! It seems like common sense but lots of students simply arrive with their luggages thinking it’s going to be easy, and it’s not. You have to have an option, even a short accomodation option is way better than nothing!

A person has a day to visit Lyon. What places does he or she have to see absolutely?

Without hesitation, the Basilica of Fourvière which is a symbolic place in Lyon. If he or she is a fan of shopping, the Confluence shopping Center is a must!

I would also add that the person must taste the amazing cheeses St Michel or Caprice Des Dieux.

A little frenchie habit that you have adopted since you are here?

I am not really fond of alcohol, but now I really appreciate a small glass of wine when eating.

And of course after any meal, the perfect marriage: Cheese with red wine! Thanks to my wonderful grandma, Niouf, who initiated me to this tradition.

To finish, describe your new life in Lyon in a few words.

Experience. Discovery. Self-improvement.

Thank you, Raphaëlle!

“FIGS has been highly precious in orientating and helping me to pursue my studies in France. They offer several services to students to help them from Madagascar to come and study in France.

From the very beginning, FIGS’ team has helped me in choosing the most appropriate program that matches with my professional goals. They have been always by my side at every step of my admission process. I’m now well settled in France,I got admitted in IGS-RH in Lyon and I ‘m now in second year of Master in Human Resources.

I would recommend FIGS to all students who wish to pursue their higher education in France. Everyone will surely find a program that fit his or her aspiration.”


My name is Jaskirat Singh Romana, I am 21 and I from Daggo Romana, Punjab. It is a village located in the north of India where people’s main occupations are in agriculture or in the army.

I am a sophomore CEFAMIAN. I joined CFEAM in January 2017 for a BBA program. I had a most restless arrival in France; I arrived in Lyon on the 24th of January and the next morning I was already in class!


‘Singh’ is a very common name for Indians. Does it have a special meaning?

Usually, men who are Sikhs – a caste in India – need to have ‘Singh’ in their names. For women, it is ‘Kaur’. Sikhs refer to ‘learners’.


You got several acceptance letters, namely from the U.S, Canada and Australia but you have chosen France to pursue your higher studies. Why?

Since my childhood, I have always wanted to come to Europe. I chose France because it was a real challenge for me, especially for the language. Most of the students go to English speaking countries, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and learn a new language.


Why did you choose CEFAM?

I was looking for a school whish provides English program in Lyon, I had a crush for the program and the courses at CEFAM.

The quality of academics and the excellence of our teachers is something I value, especially my Math teacher: Karim, who is very helpful and available with his students.  We also have a high tech campus. I like the library because computers are available to help students in carrying further researches.


Was the cultural change difficult for you when you arrived in France?

Indeed, it was a big shock. I was used to see huge crowds of people in the streets in India, but when I got here I felt lonely in the streets!. Lot of people stay inside their houses because it is too cold to wander outside.

French people here are more distant. It was more difficult to find vegetarian food and I had to learn to cook myself.

On the other hand, I made some great friends here!


What are your favorite French word?

There is a famous exclamatory word that starts with a P. It’s funny because people use it every time, in almost all sentences!

As a non-French speaker, I have a life safer sentence: “Parlez-vous anglais s’il vous plait?”


Some of your friends from India are coming to visit Lyon for some days. What would you recommend to do if you were their guide?

I would make them discover a Bouchon Lyonnais though personally I have never been there, being a vegetarian.

Then, we would go to the ‘Parc de La Tete D’Or’ and chill out there. The entrance is free, there is a wonderful zoo and we can take a little nap if it is sunny.


Some advices for students who want to come and study in France?

I would advise them, if possible, to take some French classes before coming as that would be extremely helpful.

Be well prepared financially also, because accommodation tends to be expensive as usually you need to give a deposit for the 1st month rent, a guarantee and also pay the housing tax. From my experience, I would tell them to get all important documents translated in French or/and in English because here, it is quite time-consuming and costly.


After almost one year in France, what do you think of your experience ?

It is a challenge that I am still enjoying. I have become so much more independent since I am here. Now I work, I know how to manage my money and I have become a chef. Never thought before coming here that I would do so much cooking!

Moreover, I can take care and help other foreign students who come here now. I know how things work!

On an ending note, I would say France is an awesome place to study.


Hello Dorra, can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Dorra Berriche, I am 27 years old. I come from Tunis, Tunisia. I am currently in 4th year of MSc International Management, Finance concentration at CEFAM.


Why did you choose to study abroad? And why in France?

France is very close to my country, I knew I would be able to come back whenever I wanted.

The second reason is there is no such thing as a cultural gap between Tunisia and France: daily life is very similar, it would not be a challenge to accommodate.


How did FIGS helped you?

FIGS provided me with guidance to help me choose the right school and program according to my professional project. Arnaud was my contact person, he has been following me during the whole process until I arrived in France with appropriate advises at each step. He took the time to listen to me, to my project to present the different options I had. It was very nice to know I could count on him all the way.


Some advice for those who want to study in France?

My advice would be to take your time for your researches: it is important to make the right choice for your future school and program. I would also advise them to visit Campus France and their local fairs to get as many information as possible. Eventually try to find the right contact to advise you during the whole procedure and then you will be a lucky one!