A Perfect Semester in the South of France! Past Review

By (The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 01/28/2012 to 05/20/2012 with

Institute for American Universities (IAU): The School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Aix-en-Provence, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I feel like a totally different person, you see the world outside of your comfort zone and become so much more knowledgeable and respectful of other cultures. I encourage every single person to study abroad while they have this opportunity. If you go during a semester, you forgo your expenses at your home university and it makes the money situation much more manageable. A summer is not long enough. Go do it! Study Abroad!

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.

Not too difficult but REALLY interesting. I feel like I learned a lot but wasn't pressured to focus on grades.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were very involved and engaging, administration was incredible.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host family (mother, father, son, daughter) in a home outside the downtown area. It was gorgeous. The family was absolutely incredible and accommodating. They made the experience over-the-top amazing.

* Food:

We ate dinner at home almost every night and the host mom was a wonderful cook,I heard the same from most other students in my program. The French food in general is so fresh and delicious, nothing better! There was a fresh produce market every single day I passed on my walk to school (open 9 am to 1 pm).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

But only because I made an effort to learn the language and respect their culture. Some people made it by on english but didn't benefit as much from the experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program staff did a lot to help, and there were pharmacies on every corner, but I was never sick so I didn't have much experience with this. Some people did get sick and went to see doctors, all fine.

* Safety:

SUCH a safe town. Aix-en-Provence is an incredible, perfect size place. It is a college town with over 35,000 students.

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)

It was kind of expensive if you didn't make an effort to eat cheaply. It really helped being able to eat breakfast/dinner at home.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? cheapest: 50 euros = about 75 dollars. more expensive: 100 euros = about 135 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Get a part-time job as soon as you can. Start saving as soon as possible because it is way more fun to spend money in Europe than in America, I promise!


* 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

Admin and professors spoke french to us and around us, but were patient and spoke english to beginners.

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? FR 612
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? Live with a family and engage them everyday. It was the best way to learn and enjoy the experience. Always try and order in the language, you'll get better with practice and you will eat a lot....so that's a lot of practice!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • I liked that the classes were interesting and engaging but not overbearing
  • I like the size, it was about 100 american students and we all got very close.
  • I liked that the campus was in the center of the french college campus, we were right there with all the french college students everyday all day.
* What could be improved?
  • They need to advertise the program more, increase admission, I want everyone to go to this city
  • Make it longer. It was only 4 months, not long enough.
  • No Friday classes, makes traveling dificult
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't bring too much stuff! You learn to live minimally.