The best summer of my life! Past Review

By (Chemical Engineering., Iowa State University) - abroad from 05/28/2013 to 07/27/2013 with

CEA: Aix-en-Provence, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I was able to see how other cultures view Americans. While it made me appreciate many things from my own culture more, there are also things that I know I will change moving forward.

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.

I studied at IEFEE, which is a department of Aix-Marseille University. The classes were small, and there were a lot of resources available for the students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CEA provided a ton of local, cultural experiences, and the program director was always available for us and was a ton of fun. I can not speak highly enough on behalf of the program director in Aix!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was in a home stay, I had a wonderful house with my own room. The family was very nice, and I couldn't have asked for a better housing situation.

* Food:

All of the food I ate while in France was amazing, both at my homestay and in the restaurants and cafes of Aix

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The CEA program set up a bunch of events for us to learn about the French culture, and gave us many opportunities to help us make actual French friends.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

everything is easily accessible here, and I once had a question about what to buy at the pharmacy, so my program director wrote out what I needed to ask for on a piece of paper so I could be sure I got the right thing. She was very helpful. I didn't have any big health problems while I was abroad.

* Safety:

Obviously like any city you need to be smart, but I never felt unsafe in Aix, even at night.

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

Finances

* 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)

It would depend on if you were a homestay, because I could eat lunch for less than 10 euros a day easily, but I was provided breakfast and dinner at my home stay.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? about 100 per week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy cheese and then a demi baguette on your way to school to bring your own lunch a few times a week.

Language

* 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? 202
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? Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Just start talking! Also, in stores, often after you start speaking in French, the shop keepers will switch to English. Just politely tell them you are a student and are here to learn French. Most people feel like they are being nice when they switch, so just stick to French.

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
* 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?
  • The activites set up by the program
  • The efforts made to help us intergrate with French people
  • The constant support from the program director
* What could be improved?
  • Alert students of opportunites a bit earlier
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that when I got there, I wouldn't understand anything. I had learned French, but never in a real sense. I wish I would have known that in a week, I would be able to understand, but the first week that I wouldn't understand, I would have had a lot less stress that first week.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.