an amazing and immersive experience! Past Review

By (Swarthmore College) - abroad from 08/31/2016 to 12/18/2016 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to immerse myself in a different culture and be more comfortable in doing things by myself and discovering new places.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

APA Paris was the best program I could've asked for for what I wanted. Coming from a small liberal arts college, I really appreciated that the program was small (only 10 students in my cohort) and that the small but extremely dedicated, approachable, and available staff really cared about each of our individual needs and voices. a side of Paris that I would have never seen unless it was organized for me! The French university system is also radically different from my experience in the U.S., but luckily the staff spent three weeks with us at the beginning of the semester teaching us about the university system through an orientation program. That support continued throughout the semester through tutoring sessions to learn the methodology of our course work or meetings with professors. The two in-house courses were also absolutely incredible and allowed us to get to know French professors while still having a small, intimate class where discussion was highly encouraged. We also got to go on a study-tour to a different country for each of the in-house classes! Those trips were weekend-long trips organized by the program that helped expand what were were learning in the classroom.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I became really close to the staff and even though they are small in size, they are hugely dedicated, approachable, and available. Since it is a small group of students, they really pay attention to each of our individual voices and needs. They were super helpful even before we got to the country in helping us with visa processes, etc.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

. The host family I was set up with was super caring as well. APA Staff are very particular in their process of matching a student to a host family so that the best match is possible. I lived in a great area with a mother and her daughter and had dinner with them 5x a week as a part of the program requirements.

* Food:

Food is amazing and APA teaches you how to make it affordable, even in a city like Paris. They also treated us to meals many times throughout the semester, for example for Thanksgiving dinner when they organized a nice dinner party for us to celebrate even though we were away from home.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I had lots of fun with them on the weekly outings that they organized for us! Each week, we saw a different artistic performance, whether it be a circus, dance, cabaret, musical, play, or other work! It truly allowed me to get to know a side of Paris that I would have never seen unless it was organized for me! APA did a great job at helping us really get to know Paris and become immersed in the Parisian lifestyle. Through APA, I was able to meet several French students who would meet up with us regular to go out to cafes or concerts. Especially because it can sometimes be hard to meet French students at your university, it was nice that APA set up programs for us to meet French students that we could befriend.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program had a list of different types of doctors that they had previously worked with. They were able to connect us with both bilingual doctors and French-only speaking doctors, depending on our level of comfort. The staff called and made the appointments for us, and helped give us directions to get there. Thankfully, the French health system is super affordable and a generic doctor's appointment would only cost around 25-35 euros and medicine was always less than 10euros.

* Safety:

During the first two weeks of orientation, they explained safety in Paris (especially in light of terrorist attacks/threats) and within the first hour of arriving to Paris, they immediately took us to get cellphones so that they would be able to contact us in case of anything. They taught us how to be safe in the city and make our experience an agreeable one. Safety was never a concern for me anymore than it would have been in any major city.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Grocery shop! Try to make your meals as often as possible because they really do help you save up money. And if you plan on travelling, buy your tickets weeks/months ahead if you can because they will be much cheaper.


* 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? I had completed four years in high school and 1 in college.
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? Make french friends!

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
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?
  • Staff
  • Social Outings
  • Immersion
* What could be improved?
  • More information prior to arrival
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known to buy tickets to travel throughout France/Europe at the beginning of the semester because it would have been cheaper.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.