Holistic Immersion in French Culture August 18, 2018

By (Covenant College) - abroad from 06/12/2018 to 07/23/2018 with

Jacques Lefevre Institute: Chez Vous Summer!

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Chez Vous Summer has been my favorite experience abroad. I loved learning the subtle but very important ways of life in France that are very different than the American way of life. Since I was encouraged by the Chez Vous Summer team to speak French beyond the minimal requirements and to keep immersing myself in Normandy, I began to feel at home in France, despite my lack of fluency in the language. I loved living in a culture that's strikingly different than mine, and I'd love to do it again in a heartbeat.

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.

French Conversation & Phonetics was a smooth transition for me. I had already taken French Conversation 1 at Covenant, which prepared me well for an all-French classroom and expressing myself beyond the 'small talk' level. French Christian History included quite a bit of reading, but was very manageable if one paced himself/herself appropriately. Aside from the reading, I only had a few small difficulties understanding historical events in the French language. A dictionary is very helpful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was so excited to know that students were housed in a house. The household environment allowed the other students and myself to constantly be in community with each other, whether studying, eating, or having free time. For those of you who like the beach, you'll be happy to know that the beach is a few houses down from Chez Vous Summer's house.

* Food:

Having a sweet, skilled cook makes for a wonderful summer. :)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Chez Vous Summer makes a point to get students involved in the local community in and around their town, Merville-Franceville. As well as having the freedom to explore there, students are paired up with a 'buddy' from Merville-Franceville for weekly conversation and fellowship. Students participate in three or four service projects during the six week program, and every week a student is responsible for going to the boulangerie to get bread for the day. Most importantly, Chez Vous Summer is a Christian organization that seeks Christ in everything they do. Whether in the classroom, at church, or exploring, the members of the Chez Vous Summer team make a point to encourage students to seek Christ.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't experience any health problems, but I trust that Chez-Vous would address health problems appropriately.

* Safety:

I never feared for my safety in Merville-Franceville. Typical safety precautions (i.e. locking doors) are used at the house.

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

Chez Vous Summer offered academically stimulating courses; challenged students to speak French consistently; gave students multiple opportunities to explore all of Normandy; and most importantly encouraged the students to seek Christ in all aspects of life: the church community, our studies, our relationships.


* 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)

Since Chez Vous students live in a house where food and room/board needs are provided. These are included in the tuition. As such, students don't need to worry about buying their own food/bedding/etc once they arrive.


* 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

Each weekday from breakfast to dinner, students were required to speak only in French. I loved the challenge. :)

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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 Literature II - 300 level course
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Don't be afraid to speak! It doesn't matter how much or how little French you know - you'll make great improvements simply by speaking up.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* 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?
  • the local community of Merville-Franceville
* What could be improved?
  • Honestly, I can't think of any large things. The program ran incredibly smoothly. If anything, I'd say that time in the late afternoon be a bit more open for studying.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I read a lot of material about being in a different culture before going to France, which was very helpful. However, I wish that I'd selected a text that focused on French day-to-day life as well as one on French culture in a nutshell.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'