"Je Ne Regrette Rien!" Past Review

By (Art History and Conservation, University of Tampa) for

AIFS: Paris - Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The reason I gave the program 4 stars and not 5 is only because I was disappointed with how much the other students in my program didn't care about school. Besides that, it was the best experience of my life so far, hands down. I plan to return in 2 years to study again at the Sorbonne in order to obtain a graduate degree. I learned so much about Parisian history and its people. I know that I am definitely going to spend the rest of my life there!

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 grading system in France is very different, as there are no As, Bs, etc. Instead, there is a 1-20 scale, 20 being the highest (and rarest) score possible. The average score is a 16. There were no multiple choice exams; instead, a series of questions is given which one uses to write an essay. In regular courses (non-language), there are few opportunities to raise one's grade. I took a French class, an artistic ideas seminar, and an architecture seminar. In the first seminar, the only assignments were to make a presentation and take the final exam. In the architecture course, the two grades consisted of a research paper and a final exam. Therefore it was highly necessary to do well on both. Basically, the French education system is focused more on how a person can write and what he/she knows, not on how well a person can guess on a multiple choice exam. Language exams are also taken very seriously, as my final exam was three hours long. It included writing, oral/reading comprehension, and grammar. All the teachers I had were exceptional. I had only taken French for a year before I arrived in France, but I advanced tremendously by the end of the semester. This was due to the fact that my French teacher only spoke in French, unlike the French teachers I've had in America, who spend more than half the class speaking in English.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

In Paris there are three wonderful ladies working for AIFS. One coordinates housing, another takes care of school-related issues such as sending transcripts, and the last plans amazing cultural events. I found them all very helpful and easy to talk to, although I know not everyone else in my program would say the same thing. It just depended on whether you had a problem or not. For example, I know some of the people in my group were having problems with their host families, but nothing was done to fix the problem. Since I had an amazing host lady, I was never affected by that. All three ladies were from different countries, so it was interesting to hear about the different cultures. I thought they were very educated and did a good job overall.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had the best host lady ever. Before going to Paris, my program had a two week orientation in Cannes. There we filled out surveys and chose roommates, then talked to the housing coordinator, who selected a host family for us based on what we wanted. My lady lived right near the Eiffel Tower. She was the most amazing cook ever, and treated my roommate and I like we were part of her family. She even brought us several times to the art gallery of her son when he was having a party to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition. She also took us to Midnight in Paris with her. She was so easy to talk to and provided us with everything we needed to live comfortably. There were no restrictions when it came to using the kitchen, and she let us wash clothes once a week. She has been hosting students for over 30 years and has had over 200 girls stay with her. She is 86 years old and has so much energy and the most wonderful laugh. Most of her girls try to go back and visit her after their stay is over- I know that I will too! But just to clarify, not everyone in my program was as lucky with their host family- they were treated more as tenants.

* Food:

French food is absolutely wonderful, but very heavy! I thought I would lose weight during my stay in Europe, but in fact I just evened out because of all the walking from place to place. I miss the cheese, baguettes, crepes, and quiche so badly! My host lady was also the most fabulous cook. I ate with her once a week and it was always a four course meal that included an entree, plat, cheese, dessert, and of course, wine!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The cultural coordinator of the Paris program is fantastic. We went to Reims, Chartres, several museums, a fondue restaurant, wine and cheese tastings, and so much more. All the events were so much fun and interesting.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I was sick at the very beginning of the program. All I had to do was go to the doctor that was appointed for us, pay 30 euros (the cost can vary), and he gave me a sheet to give to one of the administrators of the program in order to be reimbursed upon my return. The pharmacist also gave me a similar sheet to be reimbursed for the cost of the medicine I had to buy. When it comes to safety, be sure to not be in any dark places alone at night (of course) and do not look anyone in the eye on the metro, etc. because I found that that was a conversation starter with people who were often very freaky.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

I made a great friend in my program while studying abroad, and fortunately, she cared just as much as I did about learning French and practicing it. Everyone else in my program was just there to travel, and they did not take any of the classes seriously. They only spoke English to each other which made Americans look lazy to the international students in the French classes. I used French every single day while there, and several times a week I would sit with my host lady and talk to her for a few hours. By the end of the program, she noted that my French speaking skills had drastically improved, which made me very happy!

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are going to Paris to study seriously and improve your French language skills, do not go with a study abroad program- do an exchange. I made this mistake and I know that if I get the chance to study abroad again, it will not be with a program. If you are going just to travel and not take the time to study, then this is the program for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Aristic Ideas

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Lucy Garnier and Cecile Bavaloine
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class, which took place at ULIP (University of London in Paris), not the Sorbonne, was very interesting because it covered French art history during the 19th century. As an art history major, I would definitely recommend this class because of its content. The bad part about it was that the professors seemed completely uninterested in teaching the class, although they were very educated in its subject, but I must admit that this was probably due to my classmates, as many of them came to class late and showed little respect to the teachers. Besides that, it was great because after every class lecture, we would go to a museum and see the actual work we discussed in class, which makes it so much better!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Architectual History of Paris (English)

Course Department:
Instructor: Professor Edward Greaves
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was the most wonderful class I have ever taken because the teacher was so incredibly intelligent. I learned so much in such a short amount of time, and not just about architecture. He majored in European History while in college and does translation as a side job. He is the most well-rounded man I have ever met, and I was very sad when the class came to an end.
Credit Transfer Issues: Make sure you get in touch with your advisor right at the beginning of your program after you figure out which classes you want to take. Since you are out of the country, advisors often take a very long amount of time to reply, so it might take the whole semester to get everything figured out.