Living day by day, the French way Past Review

By (Global Studies, University of Tennessee - Knoxville) for

CEA CAPA Education Abroad: Aix-en-Provence, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I went out of my comfort zone, and I learned how to push myself to be the best I can be and to keep a positive attitude at all times. This experience showed me what kind of people I enjoy spending time with and that I place great value in deep friendships. I was forced to truly rely on myself and I learned to craft my time in ways that specifically benefitted me, making mini-goals like exploring the town, improving my painter's hand at a French provençal class with a local artist, eating new cuisines, or taking time to write self-reflectively in a journal. The reason I say "no," that I wouldn't choose the same program again is not because the program wasn't great. CEA is fantastic, but I know that I need a little more challenge. French is my passion and something I truly hope to master one day. I am ready to truly delve into living like a local and want to improve in my French even more by living and working with other French individuals. At the same time though, I'm sure this confidence in my French and myself is very much attributed to my time in Aix with CEA and the loving staff :) It prepared me for a bright future!

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: L'Université Paul-Cezanne
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.

I never found the program overly stressful, and I learned SO much. I absolutely loved my eccentric and hilarious professors, who I found truly were knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I absolutely loved CEA. I truly felt like the Aix advisors were like family to me and genuinely cared about my well-being as well as that of all the other students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mother had been receiving foreign students for over 20 years and was thus well-versed in the practice, and I was thankful for her kindness. Home stays are always a hit or miss, and while I always felt like a guest, I felt like a special and loved guest. I can honestly say with certainty that living with a host mother is one of the MAIN reasons my French improved so dramatically.

* Food:

There are so many great little eateries speckled throughout Aix from crêpes to quesadillas to sandwiches to aioli. Get ready to nom.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I loved the bull-fight excursion we went to the best in Camargues. Everywhere we went, we also would stop at the morning markets, and those were always so fun to navigate and a great place for practicing French with friendly and inviting natives. Picnics are the ultimate secret to an amazing French experience, and they are an absolute MUST.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Whenever I became ill, my program advisor was more than accommodating and would help me schedule doctor's appointments. At one point, she even accompanied me to my appointment in order to be sure that the language barrier did not confuse any of the information I needed to know from the doctor. In terms of safety, Aix is a city, so there are always common safety precautions that should be taken. Don't walk by yourself at night and always know where you are going. There was a wonderful night-bus program that ran many of the nights of the week so if students from home stays wanted to go out, they could call the driver and he would come pick them up from the center of town and take them to their homestays late 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)


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

French was absolutely necessary in Aix, and I was so thankful that shopkeepers and l'Aixois were not constantly trying to speak English to me. I was forced to practice my conversational skills. I could practice the language with my host mother, other CEA students, my professors, and any locals I met. Many people could speak English at the University because, more often than not, English was a common native language among the foreign students and could be spoken more easily than French. However, after 4-hour French courses, English was a welcome lingual break.

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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • CEA Advisors
  • Ample vacation time for traveling
* What could be improved?
  • Closer home stays
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program is absolutely for students who have already taken some French. Aix CEA is perfect for students who still need a little more guidance with their French and want to be amongst other students from America (a nice balance between pushing out of your comfort zone and staying in it too). Students should be open-minded and positive people, willing to adapt to change and be flexible on a daily basis. Be adventurous and take advantage of your time here and elsewhere throughout Europe. It's only 4 months, so don't let a single day go by without being able to jot down something special in your journal. And keep track of your progress--it's hard at first, but you will see how you grow more accustomed to the language, the culture, and the city. France is my second home, and it can absolutely be yours too...francophiles will LOVE it :)