Paris: La Ville des Lumières Past Review

By (French Language, Literature, Austin College) - abroad from 01/22/2015 to 05/24/2015 with

Central College Abroad: Study Abroad in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The actual experience of being abroad and the aftermath are two different things. While abroad, I made lifelong friends in the nine other girls that were in the program. They saw me at some of my worst times, because living in a different country is hard and one can't be happy 100% of the time. I did find, however, that in the aftermath of study abroad, there was a long time of reflection. During this time, it became clear that the hard parts are often the most important parts. The times when I was working through all of my emotions and stressors while I was abroad prepared me for this time of reflection which made the whole experience worthwhile. I keep telling people that if they had asked me while in Paris how the program went, I would have said I was having a good time, but I was ready to go home. However, now that I have been back in America and done some massive reflection, it was all worthwhile and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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.

The program worked with the Institut Catholique de Paris, which has a wonderful program for foreign students that really focuses on language learning and improvement, as well as French cultural immersion.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program director did a great job at the beginning of the semester, however, as the semester went on, all of us in the program felt that she stopped caring as much and let her duties as Program Director fall to the wayside since we were the last Central College Paris Program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host family that was extremely friendly and accommodating. I was able to see life through the lense of this host family, and it really adds a new perspective to the whole experience. I got to see the way that French people live in their homes, and I got to learn so much more about French life than I would have if I had lived alone.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

By the end of my experience, I was able to walk and (mostly)talk like most other Parisians.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There was one point where I did need to see a doctor. My Program Director made sure I had a reliable person to go to and helped me figure out payment, etc.

* Safety:

The main fears of safety in Paris are from pickpockets and drageurs. I, fortunately, didn't have any issues with pickpockets, however, I was made aware beforehand to watch out for that, so it wasn't that big of an issue for me personally. Drageurs are the men that will come up to you and try to pick you up. There were many times when I was by myself that a stranger would try to start talking to me, but in a very insistent way. It's uncomfortable, but one can shake them off pretty easily.

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 an expensive city.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50-$125
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Have a budget made before you go. Paris is an expensive place and it's easy to spend all your money in a short amount of time.


* 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

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French 350
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? Don't be scared to mess up and talk to everyone. Most people are pretty understanding and will be happy that you are making an effort.

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?
  • Small group
  • Service Learning
  • Host Family
* What could be improved?
  • Program ended
  • More excursions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Sitting around doing nothing just makes the experience harder. Pour avoir le meilleure experience, il faut bouger. C'est dans les gens qu'on rencontre où on trouve le bonheur.

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.'