Study Abroad in France: Best 4 Months of My Life Past Review

By (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) - abroad from 01/23/2016 to 05/15/2016 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 live and travel independently while relying on my instincts and language skills to communicate with people.

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.

IAU's academics are amazing! Professors understand that studying abroad includes personal traveling and they are flexible to your schedule. However, to be studying abroad, you have to "study." I was fortunate and grateful that every class that I took had a relation to French culture and everything was very relevant and useful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The IAU administration is always very helpful whether you have housing questions, are homesick, need to contact your college for course and transcript information, or anything else you may need from them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host mom! She was great and it was nice to live in a house that was close to the city center but also close to the academic buildings.

* Food:

French food is très délicieux.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated. I think this part depends on an individual and how much they personally want to immerse in the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The counselor was able to help me with a doctor appointment and other medical needs I had. She was very discreet, professional, and understanding. There was no judgment and she was very quick to respond to her email. I really appreciated her help.

* Safety:

Aix-en-Provence is an extremely safe city. I walked home very late a few times at night and never felt like I was in danger.

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

I love IAU and Aix-en-Provence. I could live there my entire life.


* 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)

I personally am not good with money management. If I actually created a budget for myself, I would have been fine.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Too much, but that's because I did not budget my money
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Create a budget once you get abroad. Calculate the estimates for flights and lodging if you are traveling and be smart about your money.


* 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

Everyone had to take one French class which I think is necessary since we were living in France. The beginner's/ introduction French classes were taught by really good professors.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? FRE 130
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? I would keep track of new words that you learn. Keep a small journal with the words. It's surprising how fast you learn a language just by reading the signs and listening to people talk.

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
* 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?
  • Accommodations and Helpfulness
  • The city (Aix-en-Provence)
  • Wine Program
* What could be improved?
  • N/A
  • Not sure
  • ?
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I took more photos. I am more of a "live in the moment" kind of person but by doing that I missed out on taking some great photos. I wish I took more with my friends and the people I met abroad.