Demanding Challenges, Rewarding Payoff June 21, 2017

By (Truman State University) - abroad from 01/09/2017 to 05/05/2017 with

ISEP Exchange: Lille - Exchange Program at Lille III (Université Charles de Gaulle)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
In spite of my answer of no to choosing this program again, I believe it was worthwhile. I gained some definite communication skills, having to correspond with many people to straighten things out (which certainly furthered my French), I gained organizational skills and

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.

Classes only met once a week and were almost entirely lecture, except for translation classes. For many classes, the entire grade constituted of the final. It was possible (though not recommended at all) to skip many classes and show up only for the final.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The people were typically kind and willing to help, but overall organization and communication between departments was sorely lacking. Students were often redirected several times and had to communicate with several different offices/departments to get a single administrative thing done.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing was very clean and functional, and I never had any problems with my neighbors being noisy. The one drawback would be that it was not very communal, so not an ideal place to meet up with friends or even to relax by myself.

* Food:

I typically cooked my own food, which was great as I could follow my own dietary preferences, but when I did eat at the university the food was delicious, typically with healthy options, and at a good price.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Once I was more familiar with the area, I felt fine walking short distances by myself in the more suburban area after dark occasionally. There were a few areas locals warned me to stay away from after dark, and sometimes in the metro there would be some questionable people, but nothing ever happened. Make sure to keep a tight grip/close eye on your belongings at all times.

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

While I gained invaluable skills and met incredible people, and am very happy to have explored this city and have had the opportunities I did, the complicated administration, particularly at the beginning, created many problems that took up much of my time and left little to spend time with others and make friends early on. Furthermore, I was not impressed by the overall education system.

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)

Especially with the option of cooking at the residence; it was very time consuming, and looking back I may have wished to have eaten at the university or out in the city a little more, which would have used a bit more money, but it is definitely possible (if not the most convenient) to live somewhat comfortably on the student's budget given.

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

It was an immersion program, so most of the school-related things were complete French. However, there were not many separate programs or events (save a French class, for which I had a brilliant professor) for international students that helped bring us together and use the language in other situations. It is definitely up to the student to find ways to engage and use the language in situations outside the classroom.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Find a group of locals who you like to hang out with and who are not insistent on practicing their English the whole time; even if you don't speak a lot at first, it's great listening comprehension practice. For instance, I found a group linked to local churches where university students met up at least once a week. I only wish I had gone more during the semester!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Freedom
  • People
  • Location
* What could be improved?
  • Administration Communication
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I don't think there's much I wish I'd known before departing. I knew it was going to be challenging...I suppose I just didn't realize how challenging it would be. Perhaps I wish I would've been warned that the biggest challenges were going to be outside of the classroom.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!