Continued learning in France

Author: fraise

Sunday 30 August 2009, in Journal, La France

For about a year now I’ve been toying with the idea of continuing my studies, having always wanted to get a Masters degree. After my BA in French, I was actually accepted to a Masters program in the same subject, but decided instead to stay in Europe. It’s a decision I’m glad I made, because in the years since then I’ve come to know myself much better. Ten years ago I thought teaching would be great, but after experience teaching privately, I discovered it’s not something I enjoy as much as I’d imagined. While I would like to teach children in public schools, you have to be a French or EU citizen to even apply for the degree programs. Meanwhile, in the time I’ve been working as a translator and in IT, it’s become increasingly clear that my dream career would be something that combines my loves of literature, languages and computing. This was what I kept in mind over the last year.

Lo and behold, such a dream career does indeed exist: librarian. With today’s information systems, being a librarian now entails having IT knowledge, and a common degree is the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). While public librarians may be the first to come to mind, there are other related careers as well: information retrieval specialist / reference librarian, archivist, information subject specialist, knowledge manager, manager of library and information organizations, technical services librarian, Web librarian, and so forth.

I looked at various programs in the US and in France, hoping to stay in France since leaving for more than 3 months would mean losing my long-term resident status and having to start over from zero if I ever returned to the country. But how to finance my studies in France? A friend answered for me: in France, there’s a program funded by the Fongecif for the Congé Individuel de Formation (CIF), or Individual Continuing Education Sabbatical. For continuing education programs of at least 6 months to a maximum of 6 years, on approval of your proposal, the Fongecif can reimburse your employer for your salary, while you do your studies. In other words: you continue to receive your full salary, if it’s less than twice French minimum wage (which is about 1300 euros gross a month), or if it’s more, you get 80 to 90% of your salary. On agreement with your employer, you can return to your company after finishing, or find work elsewhere. There are differing requirements to qualify for the Fongecif depending on your situation; in my case, as a permanent employee (I have a CDI), I need 2 years as an employee, which recently became the case.

As for the program I hope to follow, I jumped out of my chair and started bouncing around my apartment when I discovered that one of the best MLIS programs in France is not only in Lyon, a city I love and miss dearly, but it also offers an option called Systèmes d’Information Multilingues et Ingénierie de la Langue (SIMIL), which translates to Multilingual Information Systems and Language Engineering, with courses in French and English. The school is the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l’Information et des Bibliothèques (ENSSIB), the degree I’m interested in is the MSIB (an MLIS), and they have other programs as well.

The first step is a Fongecif introductory meeting, which I’m going to attend this Thursday. If all goes well, the application process then begins.

7 responses to “Continued learning in France”

  1. Bruce B Says:

    Sounds like an excellent idea, and in fact, I’m also trying to get financing through FONGECIF for a master’s program (cf.: world, small). Just be aware that FONGECIF has to have all the paperwork (which includes a 6 page form that has to be signed by the school) a minimum of 60 days before the beginning of the training/school semester. Pour quoi faire des choses simples si on peut faire des choses compliquées, n’est ce pas? :-)

  2. delaido Says:

    How exciting! I’ve been thinking about going back to school, too, but I have my sights set on graduate studies in Computational Linguistics. Finances are the sticking point for me.

    I love Lyon, too. It’s a city full of great memories for me, plus we have relatives there.

  3. fraise Says:

    Bruce how about that, small world indeed! I’m aware of the deadline, it should be fine since I’m starting a year ahead. I’m glad you wrote about it, because my secret worry was that there be a citizenship requirement for it, but if you’re going through Fongecif too, it must be fine!

    delaïdo relatives in Lyon, that’s nice! It’s so much livelier and more cultivated a city than Nice, plus the ENSSIB is right across the street from the Parc de la Tête d’Or, so I’d be able to get my nature fix… ahhh I miss Lyon.

  4. Bruce B Says:

    As far as I know, FONGECIF financing is based on your employment, so if you’re legally a French resident and have a CDD/CDI…. pour quoi pas?

    And the Velo’v system here is GREAT! :-)

  5. zuleme Says:

    Hi Fraise,
    Just got back from France yesterday. We had a fantastic time in the Luberon biking and then visited friends in St. Nazaire and Nantes. The education plan sounds wonderful and I hope it works for you. Would you have to sell your apartment and move or would you keep it to come back to NIce someday?

  6. Josee Says:

    Just found your blog; congrats it’s great. I will certainly stay connected. I am registered dietitian in Florida. Luckily enough my mom was Canadian and my dad was French from Bretagne. Left Montreal 15 years ago, lived in Guadeloupe and St-Lucia, but guess what? I am looking into moving to Nice or somewhere close by. I was told not to go to Marseilles, so Nice sounds great. I was also told that Nice is a bit like Boca Raton, older population and more well to do, compared to Montpellier. I have a French passport and of course perfectly bilingual as I graduated from McGill University. But i am not sure if i want to work as a “dieticienne” over there. Like you i contribute to a blog ( where i work at Sensei (weight loss application for mobile phone and web). So I’ve been surfing the web for jobs and getting an idea about rent and all the other stuff. Like you i was thinking of starting a blog and doing medical translation maybe. I am quite open. I have not made a decision yet, but considering a move. Nice to see that you were able to buy an appart, I am sure the prices have gone up since. Anyway, thanks for all the info and the nice pictures. I’ll keep on reading.

  7. Heather W. Says:

    Fraise, this sounds like a wonderful opportunity and the FONGECIF is amazing! As a librarian myself, I’m also happy to hear that it’s still an exciting career opportunity.

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