Challenging the Self: Not Always Rewarding, But Worthwhile March 11, 2019

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/06/2018 to 12/19/2018 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Bordeaux

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Language improvement. One incredible French friend and several friends from the program. A better understanding of wine. Self-confidence.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Université Bordeaux Montaigne is not a particularly rigorous institution. My education was largely in developing language skills rather than skills needed or useful to my major.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I emphasized on the pre-departure housing survey that I would like to live with a family with kids/teens, but did not.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Got very sick with a cold partway through and managed to take care of myself alright.

* Safety:

Felt fine until the gilet jaune protests began.

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

But I would have liked to live with a different host family and I would not have taken history classes - those were the two elements that caused me the most stress.


* 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? ~30 euros on a normal week


* 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

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? A 300-level course at Middlebury College
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? Yes!! Listen to music in the language as much as possible. Start finding music before you leave and continue to add to it while you're there - you'll be more motivated to listen to it if you have a variety. Same thing with TV shows and movies. Also try to journal in the language. There's no better way to find words/phrases that you don't know, because when you're writing you have the opportunity to look them up.

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
  • 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?
  • Language Pledge
* What could be improved?
  • Add a French language class for the Montaigne students
  • A Bordeaux version of the "Centre Madeleine"
  • More Midd program activities, like in Paris
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Most of the time I would not be having fun or enjoying myself. There were certainly moments, but the majority of the time is like a normal school semester, but with more stress and uncertainty due to the language. Like I mentioned earlier, I also would have liked to know that my classes would not be the stereotypical French style of one exam at the end of the semester. Finally, I was never told that even if some of our classes had January exams, Middlebury would make sure they were scheduled in December. Because I saw that the program was slated to go through January, my family and I made plans long in advance. When I arrived and was told that I would be done in December, I had to change my plane ticket, at great personal expense. PLEASE be explicit about this!!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Histoire comtemporaine

Course Department: Histoire
Instructor: Nicolas Champ
Instruction Language: French
Comments: M. Champ is obviously very knowledgeable, but his demeanor is extremely severe and frightening to a foreign language student.
Credit Transfer Issues: No