An experience to remember. Past Review

By (Bennington College) - abroad from 08/31/2014 to 05/09/2015 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Although I had traveled before, this was the first time I really understood what it meant to be in a foreign country, speaking another language all day, every day, and learning to be humble for that. Because of APA, I feel confident in my language abilities, and I was able to take what I learned there to write not one, but two theses upon my return — a fifty page translation from French to English, as well as a thesis on the Paris Massacre of 1961, all in French. The latter project was inspired, actually, by my time in Paris, as I was able to do hands-on research at the libraries there and find first-hand sources in Paris.

Personal Information

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.

The academic rigor lies in the classtime itself. You won't get a lot of homework, but you really have to stay on your toes during class — French professors don't waste any time! This makes for great listening practice in French, and also means you have more free time outside of class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Claire, Blandine, and Sophie are wonderful. They are always there to help, and really care about the students in the program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I am glad I had the opportunity to live with a host family, but I also know some students who lived on their own and loved it. APA does the best job they can to accommodate students, given the small size of the program.

* Food:

One upside of living with a host family is the food! My host mom was an amazing cook. I had five meals a week with my host family, and it was nice to not have to worry about making my own food after a long day. In addition, France is known for its gastronomy for a reason! It's easy to find great places to eat around Paris.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

APA did an incredible job of introducing each student to French culture. The information I learned during our orientation served me throughout the year, especially in regards to cultural dos and don'ts. Because the students in the program are mostly American (and if not, all are English-speaking), it can be easy to stay in the bubble of English and not branch out. It's really on the students to make connections with the locals, though APA does provide opportunities to do so. For example, I did a tandem program with a French student, in which we spoke in English for a while and then French for a while, so we could both practice our skills and get to know each other.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health problems during the program, but one of my friends (who was abroad the entire year as well) did. From what she told me, APA did a great job of connecting her to doctors and helping her through her recovery, including helping her contact her professors when she was sick.

* Safety:

Just like any other city in the world, you do have to be careful with your belongings. That being said, APA specifically chooses host families in safe areas (I never felt unsafe where I lived) and offers to pick students up upon arrival to the airport.

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

APA gave me everything I was looking for and more. I met wonderful people, became fluent in French (with some hard work and dedication!), and learned so much. I don't know if I would have had the same experience with another program.


* 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)


* 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

APA is an immersion program. We were encouraged to speak French from day one.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? The most advanced course level in my school.
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? Try to make French friends, and if you're living with a host family, spend time talking to them.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International 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?
  • The support from the APA office
  • The classes
  • The weekend excursions
* What could be improved?
  • Connecting former students to current students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had saved money to travel before I got to France. I had a great time in Paris, but I wish I had taken the opportunity to travel more around Europe. I also wish I had spent more time making French friends. I did make a few (and that was great!), but I wish I had made more.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!