I would stay forever if I could!!! March 03, 2017

By (University of San Diego) - abroad from 09/07/2013 to 05/25/2014 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 learned how to be independent, how to slow down and appreciate my surroundings, and how to navigate a new culture. It was the best experience of my life and I would go back right now if I could.

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.

The academic courses were much more interactive and culture-based than my courses at my home university. They were rigorous, but definitely prioritized discussion and lived experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Everyone was very helpful. IAU even has a Wellness Center on-site where students can go to speak with a counselor if they feel ill or homesick or anything like that. The staff and faculty made it clear that they were there to support the students with anything we needed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host mother! She was very warm and welcoming, and made us feel very at home in her apartment. She had hosted students for over ten years, so knew that there would be language and cultural difficulties, but was very sweet and kind to both my roommate and I.

* Food:

My host mother's food was wonderful!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I think integrating into the local culture is exactly what you make of it. By the end of my year-long stay in Aix, I felt like I was truly part of the community. It's such an advantage to live in a small-ish town, where you begin to make friends with the people you see every day when buying bread or getting a coffee.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got really sick when I was there with some sort of stomach flu, and the housing coordinator was extremely helpful, giving me the name and number of a doctor and assisting me with making an appointment. It all went very smoothly and I was appreciative of their help.

* Safety:

I felt extremely safe!

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Aix-en-Provence is the most beautiful city. Full of beautiful architecture, flower markets, fountains, and very sweet people. Everything is within walking distance, and it really feels like you are living in a work of art. IAU helped students experience the city, make new friends, immerse into the culture, and learn the language, and they supported us the entire time.

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)

Language

* 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? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

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?
  • the location
  • my host family
  • the professors
* What could be improved?
  • Activities with French Students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that staying for a year was an option before I departed. I ended up staying for a year and it was the best decision I've made, but it was complicated to figure out half-way through my first semester. If you think you might want to stay a full year -- do it!!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.