Paris? YES! My Program- NO Past Review

By (Advertising & Marketing, Drake University) - abroad from 01/20/2014 to 05/25/2014 with

Central College Abroad: Study Abroad in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had already lived 6+ years abroad, but going back on my own as a student was so much different. I loved getting involved in the culture and current events. I met so many amazing people with incredible life stories. Your time abroad will never be wasted. I have come back an entirely different person, and I know that if I want to live abroad after school, I can! Get out of your bubble, there is so much more to the world!

Review Photos

Central College Abroad: Paris - Multiple Photo Central College Abroad: Paris - Multiple Photo Central College Abroad: Paris - Multiple Photo Central College Abroad: Paris - Multiple Photo Central College Abroad: Paris - Multiple Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were pretty easy, but being abroad is about learning in real time less than the class room. However, I loved my gastronomy class where we had tastings of French food/wine every week. We even had class in the Louvre half the time for my Art History course. That was pretty sweet.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I didn't feel like our director was interested or cared about her student's experience at all. She was very unorganized and messed up the dates of our spring break, causing me to waste a ton of money on an already planned trip as well as miss classes. We didn't receive really any type of orientation, and I didn't receive any emails leading up to my arrival in Paris. The excursions we did were so-so and our director always made up excuses for why we didn't do more. In general, I think I overpaid- a lot.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom was amazing! She was an older widow who was incredible nice and caring, and an amazing cook!

* Food:

Its France.. enough said.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There are two sides to this: 1)I felt extremely integrated because I chose to do an internship. This meant I worked 3 days a week (30 hours), and went to class the other two. I had the chance to develop my professional and linguistic skills as well as make a ton of new friends and proffesional connections. I also had the chance to hang out with my host mom's family and friend's which was super cool! 2) If I hadn't done the internship and pushed myself to become a part of my host mom's family, I wouldn't have felt integrated. (side note- the internship was arranged by a third party program that was awesome- not by Central College Abroad) Our classes were basically with other Americans, so it was a bummer that it was so difficult to make French friends.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had to visit a specialized doctor when I was abroad, but my host mom's daughter gave me a great recommendation. Also, pharmacies are super convenient and easy. Most all the pharmacists speak English too. Our program director was not very involved in our life and so I did not feel comfortable asking her.

* Safety:

I lived near Gare Du Nord, not exactly the safest neighborhood in Paris, but I always felt secure. People will always be cat calling, and homeless people will always be urinating in the metro, but that's just Paris/big city life. I never felt like I was personally threatened, even walking 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)

I spent about 150 dollars a week (I was living with a host family- so I even had 4 meals accounted for). Paris in general is just crazy expensive. If you are able to grocery shop, it is much cheaper. However, living with a host family, it was difficult to grocery shop as I didn't have much access to the kitchen. Also, the monthly metro/train pass is about 90 dollars- so that right there eats up a lot of your budget!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a budget! Figure out how much you think is reasonable to spend and find out what that would be weekly and then record your spending! Don't forget that spring break could easily be up to 600 bucks! I found that a weekend/3 day trip was about 350 dollars including train/plane rides. Also, book those tickets early, and look for cheap hostels (you won't spend much time in them anyway) or milk those connections you have in other countries!


* 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

I was always encouraged to speak French. I did so at work, school, at home, and even with my American friends when we felt like it! I think and dream in French now. However, if you try to cheat the system and you get an English speaking roommate, your French will not improve NEARLY as much as the rest. Get out of your comfort zone. It will come naturally to you after a week.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French 140
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Speak french with your friends. If it takes a glass of wine or two to get you there, then so be it. You learn so much from it! Also, don't be that person who insists on speaking English all the time, even in French class. I have a friend who was abroad for an entire year but was never forced to use her french. She hasn't improved one bit. I was abroad one semester and I am fluent because I pushed myself.

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

  • International Students
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?
  • They worked with good third party programs who placed me in my host family and Internship
* What could be improved?
  • On-site personnel
  • Organization
  • Break down of budget- What did my money go to?!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Even if you've been before, its a new place, new memories, and new adventure. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. I promise that if you don't push yourself to speak the language and explore the culture, you will have paid a fortune for nothing. You will not have changed. Its intimidating, but the ultimate gift.

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.'