Past Review

By (HISTORY., The College of William and Mary) for

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Any time spent abroad is an important investment in both time and money. In my case, I chose to spend the year because I had always wanted to do this and I had specific goals that I was working to achieve. I am a serious student, and I did not spend a year of my college career in this program for such results (I mean the conversions of my French grades into American grades, a conversion scale that is inherently flawed). Although these grades do not show up on my William and Mary transcript, nor are they figured into my GPA, I still take them seriously and will of course need them when presenting postgraduate programs. When I voiced this concern to a Middlebury staff person, I was told that the fact that I took the risk of taking classes in an unfamiliar environment would appeal to postgraduate admissions. I was even told that Fulbright doesn't really care about grades. That said, by doing things on my own, I was able to get things done. I found awesome internships, and it helped that I had my own contacts and family here. I'm very lucky in that respect, a student with similar goals but not in my situation might not have had the same luck.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Pretty terrible, I now understand why my French family tells me that I am lucky to have been able go to school in the United-States. I can also see why people in France stop school so much earlier, as the system is designed to weed out people who can't take the same mindless, monotonous schedule day in and day out. That said, my work and internship experience was amazing, I'm very lucky to have found what I did!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff of the Middlebury program was unhelpful since I began the program last September. In my case, information or clarifications were not made forthcoming despite my attempts to do all that was asked of me in good faith in the period leading up to my confusion. I did not have the impression that I was taken seriously by anyone this year despite my academic background and expressed interests, let alone that fact that I had to apply for the program and was selected as a non-Middlebury student. When I encountered a problem and asked for just about anything to be explained in detail, I was often handed off to the director of the program without any explanation and at one point told to be reasonable and to not discuss the matter any further. When I asked to meet to speak in-detail regarding these issues, I was basically discouraged via email to leave the discussion there and to stop being difficult. I am more than upset at this treatment since I am a serious student with good grades. I came to France with specific goals (outlined in my application essay and expressed verbally and on-paper during my time at the Middlebury School there) that were not facilitated or even really encouraged by the staff despite my having been ostensibly selected because of them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with my actual family, which was kind of a shock in that for the two years before this academic year I lived on my own on-campus.

* Food:

I was in France, I can't complain.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Too much to do, all the more reason to come back and even to go see things multiple times!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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


Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? N/A


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? FREN 390
Language acquisition improvement?

I grew up bilingual in English and French

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Look at others first

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Arts décoratifs et design (History of the Decorative Arts and Design)

Course Department:
Instructor: Stéphane Laurent
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This professor was difficult to the point of being unpleasant, almost always refused to speak to me in French, and cancelled class numerous times, only to never make them up. When he did make up one class, it was in a room too small for everyone, and people were all over the floor. He was late and ended up taking more time to get ready. After answering random questions for about a half an hour, he got to presenting the lesson. On one of the two tests we had, he quizzed us on random information from literally the last 5 minutes of this makeup class. For the final, he refused to give the class average, I suspect because it was awful. My exam had question marks all over it without any explanation, and given that the goal is to actually teach me something, I contacted the professor and politely asked him to explain what I didn't address, etc. Basically, I wanted to know what I was doing that was creating confusion on his part. He never responded to my request. I was advised by a Middlebury staff to contact him and discuss this. Very disappointing since I came specifically to study this domain. My internship in the decorative arts department of the Louvre was far more enriching.
Credit Transfer Issues: