My semester in Paris was simultaneously a huge challenge and a dream come true. Past Review

By (Music History, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/18/2012 to 05/31/2012 with

Academic Programs Abroad (APA): Paris - Immersion for Intermediate & Advanced French Speakers

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained independence. I learned about many social issues that exists in France including immigration, gay rights, and health care. The experience was worthwhile.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: I took classes through APA and at the Sorbonne, Paris IV
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a homestay and that was an incredible experience!

* Food:

My host mother was a grandmother and made amazing food and cake all the time. Also, I was in France so how could the food not be great?

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since I had a host family, I was able to feel partially integrated because I bonded with their extended family and friends. The problem, however, is that French culture dictates that friendships aren't created easily and must remain for life. This means that it is nearly impossible to make French friends at the university. My program helped me to feel integrated in other ways. I was able to teach English at a local high school during my stay, and our orientation taught us much about how to adapt and do things in a more "French" way so as to integrate.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had a problem I was concerned about when I had got back from a trip and my program helped me to find a doctor close by to my home. Also, when I had a cold at the beginning of the program, one of the directors accompanied me to the pharmacy to help find what medication I would need.

* Safety:

I felt very safe in Paris, however, like all cities one should remain cautious and alert when alone. At night there are men who try to flirt with girls and get their number. One man did this to me late at night when I was in my neighborhood. Most of the time the men are harmless but it is still creepy. As long as you stay in well lit areas and on main roads you can feel relatively safe in Paris. I felt safer in Paris than I would in New York or Boston. Pickpocketing is another thing to look out for, and probably the most common problem. As long as you're smart with how you carry your things it's not a problem.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I spent a lot of money because: 1. Paris is expensive 2. I love dessert and French pastry is amazing, so I spent money almost daily at the bakery/pastry shops. 3. I took advantage of my location to travel. Ticket prices subtract from a budget.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Decide what you want to spend your money on ahead of time and commit to putting more money towards that interest and less money towards other things. Bring basic toiletries so that you don't buy the most expensive thing when you first get there because you can't find the less expensive store. Ask for tap water always at cafes or restaurants. Water is the best way to hydrate yourself and it is free. Why pay for something else unless it's a special occasion?


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? In the 100 level past the writing course
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Talk to the natives!!! Hang out with your host family if you have one. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, just accept that it happens to everyone.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • being about to take classes at French universities
  • being able to live with a family
  • my program's cultural option
* What could be improved?
  • providing program info collectively rather than piecemeal
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You need to be very proactive when dealing with any French organization, whether it be a university, internet company, or bookstore. The French are more laid back than Americans and tend to disappear on vacation and every Sunday, so don't expect things to be organized or happen in a timely manner.