CEA Paris: A Life-changing Experience Past Review

By (Journalism, University of Oregon) for

CEA: Paris, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My time in Paris with CEA has been the most valuable experience in my life thus far. There is not a day that goes by where I don't think about it, and I know it helped me to become more independent, confident, and curious about the world. It influenced me to return to France this year, where I am currently living and working, and I could not be happier with my choice to study with CEA. My life has turned into such a great adventure, and that urge to travel the world rather than sit behind a desk after graduation this past June is mainly thanks to my time and experience with CEA in Paris.

Personal Information

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.

While abroad in Paris I attended classes at the CEA Global Campus with other American students in the same program. The classes were interesting but not too demanding. My favorite was an oenology class - useful in a country known for its wine! For a rather small number of students there was a wide variety of classes to choose from, and they were nice enough to give us Fridays off. The grading system was similar to that of the U.S. (with the exception of my French class), and the professors were very helpful, friendly, and passionate about what they taught.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I was extremely happy with my CEA experience, and all the staff were so friendly, helpful, and seemed to love their job. I felt that I could go to them with questions about the city, the school, traveling, etc. and they were always willing to help. They went out of their way more than once to help me with a couple different issues concerning my classes and passport during my semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Cité Universitaire, a residence hall for students and young people from all over the world. I had the best time living in Cité U and made some of my best friends there. There are many buildings that make up the entire Cité, and there is also a dining hall with excellent food, a gym, a park, an ATM, a post office, and a grocery store just around the corner. Plus it is right across the street from the RER station. Each floor of my hall had a kitchen where we usually cooked, and there was a common room as well. I did buy some basics like a pot and pan and towels, but bedding was provided and even changed for us every two weeks! The rooms in our building were huge for one person, so space was not an issue. Overall it was a great living situation and I felt at home right away. In the end I was not ready to move out!

* Food:

I mostly bought groceries from the store and cooked with my friends in our dorm kitchen for dinners because it was the cheapest option. There are also a lot of reasonable options when it comes to eating out around Paris, and the food is, in my opinion, delicious!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

During my semester in Paris I met a group of people who are now some of my best friends. It is amazing how being abroad can make bonds form so quickly. We spent many fun weekends traveling Europe together, going to Italy, Ireland, Greece, Oktoberfest, Belgium, and to the Loire Valley (with CEA). Even now, two years later and spread out all over the U.S., we are close friends thanks to our time in Paris. CEA's trips to Deauville and to the Loire Valley were great and some of the best memories I have of the semester. It was a nice break to have weekends planned out for us and be able to enjoy parts of France we might not have visited otherwise.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Paris, like any big city, has its good and bad sides, which I saw both of during my time there. My advice, like that of most people, is to NEVER walk alone at night, and always try to plan out your return trip to your dorm/apt/host family/etc. before leaving for the evening so you are not stuck wandering the city trying to figure out where to catch the Night Bus or where the nearest metro station is in the dark. Like I said, Paris is no different from any other big city in regards to safety, and CEA is quick to help you out if you need anything, as they did with me. After an incident I had, my parents wrote a long thank you note to CEA, thanking them for being so quick to help me out.

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)

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I took a French language class and a French conversation class at the CEA Campus, which I felt helped my French quite a bit. However, Paris has many English speakers, and I found that it was hard to speak a lot of French while out and about in the city because people heard my accent or my trouble speaking and reverted to English. This of course has nothing to do with the program itself, though. My residence hall had many international students so there was quite a bit of French spoken, but also English as well.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Class schedule with lots of opportunity for time to travel
  • Housing options
  • The chance to be independent but also have outings and events organized by CEA
* What could be improved?
  • Opportunities for scholarships
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you're looking for a program in an amazing city, with the chance to study at one of several universities (CEA Campus, Sorbonne, or Institut Catholique), and the opportunity for travel time, CEA is probably a great fit. They cater to people with all levels of French, and are extremely organized from the moment you get off the plane. They guide you throughout the semester, but also give you the chance to be independent during your time in France, traveling and exploring as you wish.