Aix-en-Provence provides an outstanding study abroad experience Past Review

By (Art History, Criticism and Conservation., The University of Texas at Austin) for

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?
Absolutely worthwhile - I met the greatest people and traveled to beautiful places. We were independent and free to make our own choices at the spur of the moment, while still being responsible and managing for ourselves. I learned so much about the French culture and cannot wait to go back for a longer period of time. EVERYBODY should study abroad at some point.

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.

My photography teacher (an American) was wonderful and really engaged us in our subject matter. However, my french teacher, native to a French-speaking African country, taught in a much different style than we were all used to and was inexperienced as a teacher overall. As a class, we students felt that we did not get as much out of the classroom as we expected due to this barrier and cultural difference in educating.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There was great faculty/student interaction and they were very accessible to the students. They were open to our comments and welcomed any questions we had about anything. They also were very concerned about our comfort and ensuring we got the most out of the culture as possible. There was a balanced mix of Americans, foreigners, and Americans who had lived in France for a long time so it was nice to be able to compare points of view. I loved the program size (about 35 students), and we all became very close and had a lot of fun together on the great excursions and institute-organized events. This program exceeded my expectations!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with one older woman who was extremely nice and treated my roommate and me like daughters. She was extremely welcoming and well-prepared with things for us and to make our stay comfortable. She met and went beyond all the program's expectations of host families by doing our laundry whenever we needed, giving us delicious meals and taking requests, and she really took us into her home. I only bought personal necessities from a local pharmacy - linens, towels, and all other expected items were provided. The house was beautiful and simple, set far back from the street and with a yard, about a 15 minute walk from the school, and very close to the center of town and main streets.

* Food:

She was an excellent cook and took note of all of our favorite foods and regularly gave us things we liked. Everything was delicious and most was homemade.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We took trips every weekend to neighboring cities, mostly in Provence and always staying within France. We discovered many fun places, restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. that were very welcoming and treated us well because we became regulars and were friendly to them. The music festival in Aix and art festival in Avignon were both very interesting and popular, as well as the Bastille Day festivities in Paris. Our program took us to some small, quaint villages around Provence, and also to some gorges and a lake that were both beautiful.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The health issues were addressed and we had enough information, but were not strongly addressed in depth unless there was an actual problem and someone needed help. We all had health cards and necessary phone numbers of both local services and the program faculty in case of an emergency. Aix felt very safe, but just like in any city it was necessary to be cautious at night and to never walk by yourself when out late. I had no health issues.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? No eliminations. Meals in France were much more expensive in general, it's necessary to seek out the cheaper cafes and restaurants.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 4th-semester proficiency (accelerated second-year French)
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

This was entirely because I was immersed in the culture, and not in the classroom. I primarily spoke French with my host family and with people in shops, restaurants, etc. which was very worth it and improved my French speaking and understanding dramatically. Although many people in Aix did speak English, I avoided speaking it so as to utilize and improve my French as much as possible. Aix is a relatively touristy town (cruise ships make day-trips there during the summer), so many of the locals speak English but it's not prevalent.

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

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Outgoing students who are eager to travel, participate in an extremely social setting, want to have the perfect balance of fun and learning. When traveling outside Aix, take advantage of the close towns and cities - Provence has so much to offer and traveling far is not worth it when it takes up so much time.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Intro to Photographic Concepts

Course Department: PHO242/ART242
Instructor: Frank Ward
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Not too challenging, more of a class to be enjoyed. The teacher mixed applying photographic techniques and creating portfolios, with a history of the technology and its evolution in the art world. We took 2 field trips, both of which were extremely interesting and well-worth the time. The teacher was very fun, creative, and a great teacher who gave tips openly and without being restrictive in what he was looking for as far as the photos turned out. We toured the town taking photos and it was a great class to explore one's own creativity. I definitely participated much more and got much more out of this class than I would have in Austin (though it helps that I was in the beautiful South of France).
Credit Transfer Issues: This course does not apply to UT's art credits, so this was only elective.
Course Name/Rating:

Advanced French

Course Department: FRE 301S
Instructor: Nadia Bongo
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This class was very disappointing and did not live up to my standards. The teacher was inexperienced, did not connect the coursework, was unchallenging, and made us students feel like we were wasting our time. Especially for an advanced language course, I feel like I got nothing out of it and if I had not been immersed in the culture, I would have actually backtracked on my language skills. My opinion of this teacher was shared by all the other students who felt just as strongly that this class was not worth our time or energy. This was entirely the teacher's fault, as all the other French language classes benefitted extremely well from their classroom learning, because they took field trips and were able to apply their education in real-life situations at the same time.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues so far.