Always say "Bonjour!" in Provence! Past Review

By (Graduate Student-Social Science, Towson 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?
Yes! I got a lot of great research and language skills! I will visit IAU Aix in the future and the French friends I made there are coming to visit me here!

Review Photos

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

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.

I do not believe that I would be anywhere near the academic level I am at now if it wasn't for my study abroad experience. The level of partnership, communication and open-mindedness between my home institution study abroad, the graduate program, my independent study advisor, IAU Aix and ANOM was amazing. I found the learning experience in France to be more at my personal pace. French professors expect 110% of a students efforts and respect. When you, as a student, realize that you will advance so quickly in both the French language, cultural ways and general academia that you will surprise yourself! I also appreciated the many walks through the city during class time. I felt much braver attempting difficult words and phrases with my professor there to support me. She, a local, also incorporated aspects of her city that I would have never found on my own into the curriculum.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program was very small, which I liked. However, a small program meant that the student activities director did not have any assistance. The entire time she seemed very overwhelmed and stressed. At times I was afraid to bother her with questions. Overall, my expectations were met.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family lived about a 35 minute walk from the school and about two hours on foot from my archival research. I am VERY lucky for the bus system. The first few days I had some difficulty in getting around (I got HORRIBLY lost for two hours!) but soon I found m way around through walking, the bus and the occasional taxi at night.

* Food:

BEST FOOD I HAVE EVER EATEN. I got horribly sick the first week in France because the air was too clean compared to home, and the food is all organic and I'm used to pre-processed foods. Once I adjusted it was like my life changed. I have terrible acid reflux in the states which magically vanished a week after being in France. The French know how to portion their food. When it comes to wanting to try haute cusine on a budget, please skip dinner out and get lunch out instead. Formule complit usually includes a three or four course lunch plus a glass of wine, or a super cheap one or two course! Always delicious!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Lavender fields

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

It was difficult to communicate to the French doctor when I was sick (the school office was closed for the weekend), but I managed.

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 $140 American per week on food and other personal expenses. I could have spent less but I chose to eat lunches out and not raid my host family's fridge for leftovers. We had permission to always "take what we wanted" to eat at any time from our host mom's kitchen, however, my host mom was very kind to offer that and it should not be expected in any way without.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bring money to buy things you forgot! I did not bring any medication or band aids or topical ointments for injuries. I really needed them!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? A 500 level French course
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I rarely spoke English while in France, and usually only with my fellow American students. Even then it was rare that I got to "hang out" with them because of work. At first it was very difficult to communicate as my accent and mannerisms were terrible/non-existent! Most people tried to speak English with me, but I always respectfully explained that I was there to speak French and that if they visited America, they could practice their English there.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Local Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Language Immersion
* What could be improved?
  • No graduate housing with undergrads!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Everyone can benefit. Everyone should study abroad, but make sure you are ready. I was not ready until I was a graduate student performing primary source research in colonial documents. Go with a purpose and that will get you through any difficult times.