Never Bored in Bordeaux! January 15, 2017

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/01/2016 to 12/15/2016 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Bordeaux

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much from my experience abroad, in so many ways. I greatly improved my French skills, but I also learned a lot about myself- how to survive and enjoy a completely different culture and environment.

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.

Although I appreciate experiencing new ways to learn, I did not enjoy the way the majority of my classes were taught; most of my classes were lectures with at least 150 students and one professor who lectured but was not available as a resource.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration at Sciences Po Bordeaux puts in a great amount of effort to ensure that foreign exchange students have a good experience during their stay.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I absolutely loved my host family, and I believe that living with a host family greatly benefited my language skills in ways that I might not have found otherwise.

* Food:

Food in France is great if you like lots of bread and cheese and cream based foods!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt fairly well integrated with local culture, which is mostly due to the fact that I lived with host family. I did not feel as well integrated in the university setting.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Bordeaux is safe city, most of the time. Like all big cities, there are certain areas to avoid, and one must be careful at night. However, otherwise I felt very safe in Bordeaux.

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

I would choose the Middlebury Program because of the Language Pledge component.


* 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 between 40 and 80 a week depending on how much I went out to eat with friends.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? While it is super fun to eat out at different restaurants, I would advise cooking at home to save money.


* 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

The language pledge was an essential part of my experience in Bordeaux.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? A 300 level French course at Middlebury.
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? I always spoke French- no matter if I was with my American friends or not, and that made a huge difference.

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

  • 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?
  • I loved my host family and I would say staying with them was one of the best parts of my program.
  • I loved meeting international students from all over Europe, and the world.
  • I loved speaking French everyday, all day.
* What could be improved?
  • Course selection could be improved- I did not understand why I should have to take 8 classes when at Middlebury I only ever take 4 subjects. The 8 subjects was at times very very overwhelming.
  • Tutor sessions could be more personalized and well organized.
  • All host family's should be vetted each and every year- you never know if things have changed.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that it had been made clear to me that my original host family was not actually in Bordeaux, but in Bègles. I don't believe that staying in a suburb is the same as staying in Bordeaux, and I think Middlebury simply needs to be upfront about this when giving students their host families.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Cours de Français (Langue étrangere)

Course Department:
Instructor: BEZIADE, Melanie
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was not very helping in increasing my French skills. It was intended to be a conversation class, however the professor did most of the talking without giving the students a chance to speak. We were assessed on our speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills.
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Conference d'Italien

Course Department:
Instructor: M. Maragoni
Instruction Language: Italian
Comments: This course was particularly helpful to me because it allowed me to continue to practice my Italian skills while in France. The professor was a kind man who was very entertaining in class, however he did not do too much teaching considering that every class period there was a student presentation that lasted until the last 15 minutes of the class. The class was evaluated on a large presentation.
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Geopolitique: Le Monde Arabe

Course Department:
Instructor: M. Otayek
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was challenging because the professor provided no outside resources, that is the basis of the course was what he said in class. Therefore, if you didn't catch what he said, because perhaps your French isn't good enough yet, you may miss something important. Fortunately he did make time for questions occasionally, which is more than most professors do at Sciences Po. There were no assignments, and our only grade was an exam consisting of only a single question at the end of the semester.
Credit Transfer Issues:
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Institutions Politiques Françaises

Course Department:
Instructor: LAFORE, Robert
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was relevant because it taught me about the current French government. The professor was extremely kind, however fairly disorganized. The classes was assessed by one exam at the end of the semester.
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Sociologie Politique

Course Department:
Instructor: TIBERJ, Vincent
Instruction Language: French
Comments: I found this course to be very interesting because it was a new subject for me. The professor was well-prepared and had a powerpoint which he posted online ( a big help!). The only grade in the class was an exam at the end of the semester composed of short response questions.
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Institutions Européennes

Course Department:
Instructor: SZYMCZAK, David
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was very challenging because it was about institutions of Europe, mainly the EU, and I had no prior knowledge of the workings of these institutions before hand. Furthermore, the professor had no powerpoint and simply read his lecture notes, making it very difficult to discern the most relevant information. The only grade in the class was a multiple choice exam at the end of the semester.
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Grands Enjeux Contemporains et Urbains

Course Department:
Instructor: M. Gilles PINSON
Instruction Language: French
Comments: I really enjoyed this class and appreciated the subject. The professor was very well prepared and knowledgable and did his best to help foreign exchange students. I appreciated that he used power-points and posted them online after class. The only assessment was an exam at the end of the semester.
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Conference de Méthode: Recherche Sociologique

Course Department:
Instructor: M. Soizic BROHAN
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was perhaps my most challenging because there were reading assignments every week and a large research project as well. It was nice to have assignments though instead of just an exam at the end of the semester. The professor was well prepared and organized. She was also very kinds towards foreign exchange students.
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