Southern France: Tasty, Yet Inefficient Past Review

By (HISTORY., Harvard University) for

Bryn Mawr: Avignon - Institut d'études Françaises d'Avignon

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My French is SOOOOOO much better now.

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.

The workload was not nearly as challenging, which was nice. There were also a lot more student presentations than I was used to, but part of that because I was in a theatre class where there was naturally a lot of public speaking/performing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program administrators were wonderful. They were incredibly helpful. The program size was very nice. However, I really was unhappy that I didn't get a host family, and I feel like they didn't explain the culture/environment of Avignon as well. Had I known what it would be like in Avignon/the Provence area, I probably would have decided to go somewhere in northern France.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It was very close to class, but there is hardly any nightlife in Avignon. You'll have to buy hand soap and bring a bath towel. We were not treated very well by the lady who ran the establishment. She always acted like we were up to no good and she was WAY nicer to the French students. I really wanted to be in a homestay, but didn't get one, even though I asked for one. However, it was fun to be with 9 other girls from the program at the Foyer.

* Food:

When there were people staying at the Foyer during the theatre festival, the food was great. When it was just we Americans, it was awful. They were very discriminatory about it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We did a lot of fun field trips as a program to the Mediterranean and to an open-air opera in Orange at night in a Roman theatre, which was really cool.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There is a lot of petty theft in Avignon. I know of a few people who got their bike stolen. I didn't really feel comfortable walking around alone at night.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 80 euros. I took a trip to Paris and another to Lyon, so that made it more expensive.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The exchange rate was pretty bad when I was there.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French 40
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I used my French all the time at school and in interactions with local people. We also spoke a lot of French at our residence, since French people lived there, too.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Local Students
  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The other students
  • The Soiree des Adieux
  • The staff (Madame Dufour and Madame Giraud!)
* What could be improved?
  • More homestays
  • Description of what Avignon is REALLY like in July
  • No class on Friday instead of no class on Wednesday so you can take longer weekend excursions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Talk to students who have done this program before to get an accurate representation of it. I don't think it is very well described in the program literature. If you love theatre, then you will love this program, since there is an enormous theatre festival for the month of July. That wasn't really my thing, but a lot of people who love theatre loved the program.