BON Past Review

By (George Washington University) - abroad from 01/06/2016 to 05/08/2016 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My French improved so much. I had a lot of firsts in Paris, buying tickets on my own, travelling by myself, etc. I've grown/matured and become more independent. No challenge is too big after what I've been through this semester...

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

We were placed right into the French university system and took classes alongside French students. It was very intimidating at first but got better as I starting talking to the other students. The quantity of assignments is less compared to the US; however, they are more challenging since their style of writing (plus the fact that we have to write in a different language), is very different than ours. It wished APA taught us how to write French-style dissertations, papers, etc. at the beginning of the program. As a whole, APA's academic support system was very helpful. I got tutors when I struggled in some of my classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The three women who run the program are amazing! They are extremely nice and truly want to see you succeed and be happy. They are always willing to help out and talk to you (even at night).

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host family. It can be sometimes difficult because of the cultural differences, but they truly want you to be happy. Great food and great integration--I felt like a member of the family. My French dramatically improved as well.

* Food:

Host family food: 5 stars University food: 4 stars (you get what you pay for) Restaurants: 4 stars for quality, -23409238 stars for the price

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was very difficult at first. One thing I noticed is that the French students don't fully "open up" until you get to know them beyond the acquaintance level. In addition, breaking that "barrier" is quite a challenge. It wasn't until mid-March when I felt like I actually belonged there. Nevertheless, I made many good French friends around my age during my time there and still keep in touch with them. Two lived with my host family. One I went to Disneyland Paris with. I also had the opportunity to go on a 3-day field trip with my geography class and became good friends with many of my classmates.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Some of my friends had to go see doctors. From what they told me, it was fine.

* Safety:

I felt safe and fortunately did not experience any incidents abroad. I did have friends who were pickpocketed,

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)

For me, I didn't buy a lot of stuff because I knew I had no room in my luggage. Nevertheless, on the times I ate out, it was expensive (even McDonalds).

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 60-80 euros
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat with your host family as much as possible, or make your own food. Take lots of pictures--they are often the best souvenirs (and free!). KFC has really good Krunchy sandwiches for 1 euro. Géant Casino (in the 13th) will be your best friend. Charles Schwab debit card is amazing--you don't pay any foreign transaction/conversion fees or ATM fees (you can use any ATM that takes Visa without extra charge). If you have TMobile, take advantage of the free data roaming and don't buy an expensive French data plan. The data speed is not bad. Take advantage of being a student--you can get reduced ticket prices/free entry with a qualifying student card.


* 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

We had to sign contracts.

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? French 3600
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? YOLO and speak it. Don't feel self-conscious. Most French students will love that you are trying and help you if you get stuck. Engage in conversations with your host family and with students at school.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
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?
  • Support system
  • Cultural excursions
  • Host family
* What could be improved?
  • More orientation time (such as writing French dissertations)
  • Signing up for classes
  • Weekly shows
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? -That the end of the semester is actually really, really, really challenging. -5 months is way too short to fully improve, make friends, etc (i.e. live the ideal study abroad life we see in articles, etc)