Aix-en-Provence: Old-School Artistic Haven in a Modern World Past Review

By (Art History, Criticism and Conservation., University of Hartford) 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?
I believe that my study abroad experience was invaluable to my growth as a person as well as a student. If another opportunity to study abroad presents itself to me, I would take it in a heartbeat.

Review Photos

Institute for American Universities : Aix-en-Provence - Institute for American Universities Aix Center Photo Institute for American Universities : Aix-en-Provence - Institute for American Universities Aix Center Photo Institute for American Universities : Aix-en-Provence - Institute for American Universities Aix Center Photo Institute for American Universities : Aix-en-Provence - Institute for American Universities Aix Center Photo Institute for American Universities : Aix-en-Provence - Institute for American Universities Aix Center Photo

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Institute for American Universities; The Marchutz School of Art
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

There were a lot of readings, which I enjoyed, but I know that not everyone is a fan of reading large amounts of material week after week. Students who are like this should probably be wary of signing up for history and art history classes, and the like. However, if found that the amount of readings and workload was pretty much equal to what I have to do for my art history classes at UH. Also, as previously stated, the program is geared towards American students, so the differences in the educational system overall were not deterring.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

As the Institute was geared towards American students, the administration's knowledge of Americans and American education was very good. My program was a relatively small one; the Institute accepted about 160 students total. However, I applied to, and was primarily in the Marchutz School, which accepted only 20 students total (give or take one or two). This allowed for a very personal relationship with the administration - the program director knew me on a first name basis right away, and she also knew my host mother personally.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The neighborhood was beautiful, and I was personally right around the corner from the Cours Mirabeau, which is the main 'boulevard' separating the 'old' half of the city form the 'new' half, and features great restaurants and bookshops, and a huge open-air market every other day! The city is very old, and streets were very winding, so it took a few days to get used to finding my way around, but the city is small and the architecture is absolutely beautiful. Also, the famous Mount Sainte Victoire is just a bus-ride away from where I lived, and my art class could easily get out of the city to paint it several days a week.

* Food:

The quality of food was excellent. I had home-cooked meals throughout the week, lunch at different cafes and restaurants all around the city, freshly-made gelato and pastries around every corner, and fresh fruit to buy at the farmer's market every single morning.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There were quite a few clubs and events offered through the program for students to join in order to interact with each other and with locals, but I often participated in events and excursions that were offered through other programs in the city, or I would simply take a bus to Marseille or the mountains with a couple of friends from the school.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The city is smaller than most cities I have visited in the US, and I think that made it seem even safer than most cities that I am familiar with.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent about 7-10 euros on lunch every day, but I would also spend a few euros on pastries and fresh fruit throughout the week. Other than lunch, the only things I had to buy were a few art supplies for my drawing and painting classes, but I already had an account set up at an art store (included in the program fee), so I only had to spend my money on supplies when I ran out of money there. I spent varying amounts of money from week to week when I went on excursions, shopped around for clothes or food/trinkets at the open air markets, or went to see a movie. I personally had a debit card to get out money from an ATM a couple of times a month, and a separate card for making immediate purchases that I used less often.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Think about the conversion of euros (or whatever the currency is for the country that you are visiting) to dollars, because the price of something in looks cheaper when it is written in euros (a 10 euro item will actually cost closer to 15), so you will want to keep track of how much you are actually spending in dollars when you make purchases on a card or take out money from an ATM, since the price it given in euros. When paying with cash, exercising monetary was personally a bit easier because you can physically see how much you have to work with, which is why I would take out a larger amount of money from the ATM, keep most of it in my room, and decide from there how much I wanted to have on me on any given day.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I spoke English is all of my classes except, obviously, French. As all of my peers were also American, I would speak English with them for the most part, unless we wanted to practice our French. However, I was in the city interacting with francophones every day, whether I was shopping for clothes, eating a meal, or simply enjoying the sights. I spoke French with my host mother 24/7 so that I could practice every day. I felt that this was a good balance because, while I had the advantage of speaking French with the people I was living with any time I wanted, I also had the outlet of being able to slip back into a language I was very comfortable in with friends.

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? I think that a student whose strengths lie in creative thinking and philosophical discussion would enjoy and benefit from this program the most.