Self-realization in a Giant World Past Review

By (University of Hartford) - abroad from 01/12/2012 to 06/01/2012 with

AIFS: Paris - Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to truly relax and enjoy life. Through my trumpet lessons I learned a philosophy of life that was all about constantly internally inspecting myself. I learned how to learn, how to fail, how to cook, take care of myself, how to communicate without a common language, about God, and ultimately what it means to be completely independent. It was definitely worthwhile. I learned more about life in my study abroad experience than I think is possible to learn in an ordinary four year undergraduate program.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

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?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Parisians are difficult to interact with, especially if you want to learn French. Most of them recognize that you do not speak much French then they switch to English. There could have been more AIFS run opportunities to meet French people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Paris is expensive, but through AIFS's meal voucher program through sodexo I was able to have plenty of money to spend on excursions and personal travel.

* 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? about 20 euro per week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Utilize grocery stores. It may be exciting to try to eat local cuisine all the time, but you'll save much more money if you cook for yourself for most of the week. Most students go for a semester, so that's about 5 months to try all the local cuisine, try to space it out.


* 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

Using French in Paris is practically optional for English speakers. I was a complete beginner with French, but picked it up rather quickly, and I could have used more conversation based class work.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
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 find social groups that focus on using the local language. The most helpful for me was meeting classmates from Japan and abroad who could not speak English, so we had no choice but to communicate in French. If you are a church goer, try to find a congregation or student study group in French. Even if you don't speak much, it helps to hear it spoken in conversation.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • It allowed complete beginners into the program.
  • It offered music lessons.
  • There were many great cultural excursions.
* What could be improved?
  • Larger variety of Classes
  • More intentional local language encouragement
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How to speak French.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Private Music Instruction

Course Department:
Instructor: Staff at the Schola Cantorum
Instruction Language: English/French
Comments: I particularly recommend this program if you are interested in taking trumpet lessons. Monsieur Guy Touvron was very thorough and patient. I learned more through his broken English than I have learned for 2 years at my home university in the United States.
Credit Transfer Issues: