My new home away from home Past Review

By (Columbia College Chicago) - abroad from 01/23/2012 to 05/25/2012 with

CEA: Paris, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It's so cliche to say, but studying abroad really was the best decision I ever made. It changed my views on life, the way I communicate with people, and made me way more independent. It's just you and one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world. You start learning a lot about yourself even within the very first week. My life has now been separated into two parts: Before studying abroad and after. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: French at the Sorbonne History of Paris at CEA
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff at CEA Paris are amazing! Seriously, I don't think I've ever met such a wonderful and nice group of people. They genuinely care that you are making the most of your time in Paris and are always willing to help. I can't say enough good things about them. Just awesome. Devon (housing coordinator) knew everyone's name after the first day, knew where we were living and would follow up to make sure we were always comfortable. Helene and Elisabeth were in charge of the excursions and always went above and beyond for us. There was an instance where we missed our train home from Belgium at night due to weather. It was a highly stressful situation but they were like superwomen! I knew I was in good hands after that.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was really hesitant and scared at first, but I decided to live with a host family. I was terrified upon arrival but it ended up being the best decision I made. The flat was on a lively street filled with cafes and bars. The family was perfect. I had two teenage host sisters and we each had our own room. We would eat a wonderful homecooked dinner together twice a week, and they welcomed me as a part of their own family. I learned a lot about French culture through this experience and I highly, highly recommend staying with a host family. We still keep in touch!

* Food:

Pricey but worth it. Delicious food everywhere you turn. To save money, I'd make a meal out of a baguette and cheese and I didn't mind at all because it's THAT DELICIOUS.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The staff at CEA are always coming up with activities and excursions. Some of my favorites were wine/cheese tasting, crepe making, and the trip to Giverny. We also had several events to socialize with local French students.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt safer here than I did back at home. Since living with a host family, I was often navigating the city alone since I didn't have roommates. I never felt threatened. The only thing I ever worried about was the pick-pocketing but I personally never had any problems.

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


* 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)

Paris is pretty expensive but there are ways around it. It's a law that the stores have a giant sale twice a year, and that's the only time I really did any shopping. Most of the museums were free with the CEA student ID. There are cheap food markets and of course cheap eats on the street like crepes and croque monsieurs. Plus you can find a bottle of wine for about two euro almost anywhere.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? One semester
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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 location of the CEA campus
  • The excursions and activities
  • The staff
* What could be improved?
  • We had a week long orientation to prepare ourselves for culture shock etc. Nobody ever warned us about what it would be like to experience reverse culture shock after going home! Some "prepare yourselves for leaving" advice would've been helpful.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? DO NOT PROCRASTINATE ON EXPLORING THE CITY. A lot of us were scrambling in the last week to visit as many places that we put off as possible. I ended up missing a few museums, exhibits, cafes etc. because I kept telling myself "I have plenty of time". You don't. It's over before you know it!

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

History of Paris

Course Department:
Instructor: Professor Tilly
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was awesome! Professor Tilly is so knowledgeable of Paris it's almost scary. We met twice a week. On Tuesdays we would meet in class and she would teach us about a specific buildings or streets, and on Thursday we would actually meet at the location to explore it first hand. I learned and discovered so many places I NEVER would have found on my own. The only thing I didn't like was the assigned 15 page paper and presentation. However, she assigned it early in the semester to give us plenty of time to complete it. We also got to choose our own topic. Take this class!!!!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

French Debutante

Course Department: Sorbonne
Instruction Language: French
Comments: Cons: -Met for two hours a day Mon-Fri which made it difficult to travel on weekends. -My professor would mostly lecture and write on the chalkboard while we took notes. I have a hard time learning this way, and I quickly found myself falling behind. I found myself dreading class every so often. -My class was held at a high school in the Montparnasse area. (There are multiple locations and you get placed according to your experience.) It was a little awkward walking amongst high schoolers in the hallway, and the location was far from where I was living. Pros: -The class size is relatively small with only about a dozen students. -The students are from all over the world. My class had students from Israel, Sweden, Brazil, China, Korea, Turkey, and Serbia. It was wonderful and some of them became my closest friends. -I struggled through most of the semester, but in the end my French still improved a whole lot.
Credit Transfer Issues: