Dreams in Annecy, France Past Review

By (Journalism., Brookdale Community College) for

College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS): Annecy - Institut Français des Alpes

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experienced has completely changed my outlook and understanding of other cultures. As I mentioned, I learned far more about other cultures than I expected to learn of France itself. My entire experience was extremely informative and influential in my decisions for the future. I will have difficulty re-adjusting to life in the states.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Class work and homework were sufficient, grading system was on a base of 20 (ex: 18/20), Teaching methods were effective, would have preferred frequent exams and quizzes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff was small but very helpful, each person spoke English as well as another language, each person as happy to provide any information possible or redirect to the correct person. The size of classes varied with the number of students, at times there would be one nationality that would dominate, making unique exchanges difficult, teachers attempted to dissuade the use of foreign languages in the classroom but were not always successful. The program exceeded my expectations with regards to student participation, there were a large number of exchanges and discussions and I learned a great deal about all foreign cultures that were represented.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The IFALPES staff found a local family for me to reside with, before my arrival I filled out several forms concerning my diet, habitudes, and preferences. IFALPES placed me with a family consisting of a mother and her children (though only the youngest lived in the house). They were very kind and welcoming, living together with 5 pets (4 cats and one dog) in a beautiful house 1 km from the center of town. They provided me with a bicycle (which was not required) and welcomed me to share meals and come and go as I pleased. I became very close to them and will stay in contact.

* Food:

The family ate mostly vegetarian, I was never obliged to eat meat when sharing meals. The meals were simple, but delicious. There was a large array of organic foods and most restaurants offered salads or other vegetable-based meals. However, most cheeses contain "presure" or animal rennet, making them unsafe for vegetarians. It was possible to maintain kosher and halal diets, though vegans and mirco-vegetarians would have difficulty sustaining a healthy diet.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Most students complained about the lack of nightlife in town. There were group activities arranged by IFALPES that were fun and interesting. Access to a car or bicycle was necessary to enjoy the many mountain trails. Public transportation to Italy, Switzerland and French cities was available at the bus station and train station. I particularly enjoyed the hikes my host family arranged and a visit through IFALPES to Turin in Italy.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never encountered any serious health or safety issues. It is necessary to securely lock your bike in public spaces, and to avoid construction zones when riding, several people in the program, including myself, had bike accidents, only one was serious. I recommend purchasing some form of traveler's insurance as most companies do not cover health claims abroad. There were no serious diseases or infections plaguing the country while I was present, up-to-date vaccinations were required for obtaining a visa.

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)


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

The course I followed was entirely French language, taught in french with any other language forbidden (except when absolutely necessary). Outside of classes, it was possible to speak one's native language, however, when interacting with locals, etc. working knowledge of the French language was integral.

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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A serious student focused on mastering the french language without much interest in continuous partying would benefit the most from this program. The class and homework are not too exacting but one must be determined to develop higher levels of understanding. Students able to appreciate calm and beauty of a small city would benefit from a stay in Annecy.