Past Review

By (History; International Affairs Policy Studies, Rice University) 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?
Definitely. I learned how to live abroad, to speak better French, to interact with a different culture and people on their own terms and in their own fashion (literally). While many of my friends are now lamenting their decision to remain at school, I took the initiative, did the paper work, and made it happen. It is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

Personal Information

The term and year this program took place: Fall 2008

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program had many strengths, including fun and interesting French professors, a dedicated staff, a prime location in Avignon, and weekend trips to interesting French locales, among other things. My one major disappointment was the program's inability to connect us (American students) with other French students, even though the public university was a fifteen minute walk from our institute.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed with a host family, and thoroughly enjoyed it. <br /><br /> My host parents were very nice and accepting. They took me on a few weekend trips to see little villages around the area, in addition to cooking wonderful French cuisine for dinner.

* Food:

French food is to die for. The reverse culture shock of returning to American food is no fun at all.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I enjoyed traveling, but spent little time in clubs or bars while I was there because there simply weren't that many options.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Avignon is incredibly safe compared with most U.S. cities.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

Finances

* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent 15 euros per week on food for making weekday lunches (5), and would spend 10 to 20 euros each weekend for food, drinks, etc. I kept my weekly spending to a minimum to save up for weekend and week-long trips, which tended to be pretty expensive.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Europe is expensive. I visited when the dollar was at a yearly high versus the euro, so I was lucky, but I still had a number of expenses I didn't account for. Trips cost money in the form of food, travel, and lodging, and hostels were not quite as cheap as I had been led to believe (though some are pretty cheap). I also found that souvenirs and museum fees, etc. cost me a good deal. While I never intended to buy much, I came across a few items that were worth the price due to their high quality and sentimental significance.

Language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
Language acquisition improvement?

I came into the program with a great deal of confidence in my French, and was not disappointed when I first began reading, writing, and speaking in class with my French professors. I grew tremendously thanks to my home-stay and the homework assigned, but missed out on interacting with French students and people my age because all the students in my program were American.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

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? If you're looking for a program that plops you down in the middle of a bunch of French students, this one is not for you. You'll have a host family, great French professors, and live in a wonderful, Proven├žal French town, but you'll miss the student-to-student interaction that is often so key to helping one develop better language skills.