Living the Dream in Réunion June 06, 2017

By (Truman State University) - abroad from 01/16/2017 to 06/28/2017 with

ISEP Exchange: St. Denis - Exchange Program at Université de la Réunion

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to be more self-reliant and independent, in both personal and practical ways. For example, Germans taught me how to drive a stick-shift, I learned to changed a bike tire, and to cook for myself. I will return to the US (for the time-being!) a much more well-rounded and happier person.

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 are very relaxed. The library is only open until 8pm on weekdays and is closed on Sundays. The class schedule changes every week. The tests are not scheduled at the beginning of the semester and no syllabi with dates are provided.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration had me mail my original birth certificate to Réunion for insurance of some kind. My birth certificate is still lost in the French bureaucracy, and the administration is not taking significant steps to locate it.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The Cité International (living on campus dorms) is perfectly suitable. However, guards enforce curfew and anti-drinking rules, which is ridiculous for adults. It is difficult to deal with CROUS, especially moving in and out. Finally, living in dormitories with other international students makes it difficult to make local friends.

* Food:

The local market provides many great options to purchase fresh and exotic food, such as bananas, avocados, and passion fruit. The food is a mix of classic French cuisine and Creole spice.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living with other international students did not help me to assimilate with the local culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Once my student insurance had worked out, the French health care system was actually a pleasure to work with, as opposed to the United States. Doctor's visits at my university were free, the staff was professional, I didn't need to make appointments, and my student insurance mostly covered any prescriptions. There was no need to take any vaccinations, etc.

* Safety:

I felt very safe in La Réunion, even walking at night. The most dangerous thing one can do here is drive on the Rue Littoral, due to the falling rocks.

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

I love this island, the friends I've made here, and the experiences I've had. I wouldn't change it for the world.

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)

Food is expensive here. My 300 euro a month allotment from ISEP never lasted the entire month.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100 - 200 euros a week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't go out every night.

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

Living with other international students who also struggled with French was the largest deterrent to using the language. However, sports trips, classes, and daily transactions helped me to learn it.

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
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French 404
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? Make friends with non-international students. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, just speak as much as possible as you can.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • my friends
  • the nature of La Réunion
  • improving French
* What could be improved?
  • not requiring students to live in CROUS
  • making flights more affordable
  • the host university keeping schedules consistent
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had spent a year here; not 6 months. I've loved every minute of it and am so happy that this was the place and program that I chose.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.