Aix- you are my sunshine Past Review

By (Marketing & International Business, University of Tennessee - Knoxville) - abroad from 09/04/2015 to 12/16/2015 with

CEA: Aix-en-Provence, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
People that study abroad are all similar in a way. I found that everyone was a "yes" kind of person. They said yes to last minute planned weekend trips, once in a life time experiences, and things that scare them. I had been searching for people like that all my life and I found them! As for Aix, you have my heart. The constant sunshine, how it's fun to get lost because you'll find a new fountain or cafe or boutique each time and find your way back eventually (it's so small it won't take you long), and the beautiful markets. It was truly a wonderful time of my life.

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 go to a big school, so the 6-15 people per class at IAU was not my style. I enjoyed 2/4 of my classes- french and intercultural management. The other ones were pointless and you have little information on what your actual grade is until the end of the semester. However, you don't study abroad for what you'll learn at the school there, you study abroad for what you'll learn from experiencing a new culture and the world around you.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Nancy & Vivienne are your study abroad angels. Literally ANY problem I had (and you will have them) from issues with my phone to losing my keys/camera, they were so happy to help. They get it done as soon as you ask them and will go with you to help translate/etc. My light bulb went out one day, so I messaged Nancy to see how to get it fixed & she came over asap, got a ladder and a new light bulb and changed it for me. They're seriously the best.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My only complaint is that we didn't have an oven. (If you're reading this, maybe invest in some toaster ovens or something for the future?) Other than that, the roommate matching was on point and it's a great place for 2 people. I even got my own room and all the dishes and kitchen supplies are provided. Put apartment as your first choice, those are the nicest and where we'd congregate to hang out.

* Food:

My advice- eat out for lunch and sometimes breakfast. Dinner is too expensive so you'll only do it a couple times (go to the Maison de Fondue though for cheese fondue!) The best thing you'll find in Aix is picnic food: fresh baguettes, cheese tartare, and tapendade are to die for. The everyday market is fabulous, too! I also recommend Mana Espresso :) If you're trying to not get fat (it's hard) cook healthy meals in Aix and when you travel on the weekends don't hold back! Make sure you try the food each city is known for and it's sure to be delicious and really bad for you.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

At IAU, it's kind of hard to make French/international friends because you'll take classes with all Americans. However, the CEA kids that went to SUFLE had french/international friends and I'd hang out with them sometimes. We even had a "friendsgiving" where we introduced all the international kids to Thanksgiving for the first time!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any problems, but if I did I'm sure Vivienne & Nancy would've helped!

* Safety:

I am very thankful for this aspect about Aix. I seriously think it's the safest place I've ever lived in! People would always come up to me to let me know my bag was open or if I left my purse sitting out in the open. I never once felt unsafe.

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)

I was prepared for traveling to a new city every weekend, so I budgeted correctly. I probably spent about $4,500 total in expenses for the whole semester. Shop at the market/cook at home like I said above and it's not too bad.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100 when not travelling; $300 when travelling
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget correctly, so you don't have to be too stingy with your money. This is Europe after all!

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

Whether it's ordering at a bakery or being asked for directions in french, you're always trying not to be found out that your native language is english. I spoke french in class and in stores, but english with all my friends. There are a lot of opportunities to have dinner with French natives, which helps a lot and all of the extra paid for excursions are in French.

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? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Literally none. Quite scary, haha.
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? Go to dinners with Beatrice/ Christine. Go on the George excursions. When people respond to you in english, respond back in French! Don't give up!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people in the program
  • Nancy & Vivienne
  • Program events
* What could be improved?
  • Ovens in the apartment
  • laundry facilities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The lavender fields are only bloomed in the summer time. If you go in the fall, go right when you get there! Bring your own shampoo & conditioner. Layers, layers, layers! Bring peanut butter.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.