Sophie's Fabulously Eye-Opening French Adventure April 11, 2018

By (Bowdoin College) - abroad from 08/30/2017 to 12/22/2017 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned an unfathomable amount of French, I learned how different culture interact with each other and exist and finally I learned who I am and who I want to be. It was incredibly worthwhile and I am so grateful for Middlebury and the opportunity to experience Paris through a safe, fun and immersive program.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

While in Paris, I took 2 courses at Université Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne which were fairly difficult, mainly because of the language challenge. I also took 3 courses with Middlebury in Paris, all in French, which were also fairly difficult, but because there was more work. I had such amazing experiences with these classes and gained a lot of really valuable knowledge from my educational abroad experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Middlebury in Paris program is a very well established and thorough program. I always felt like I was supported by the administration and whenever I had a question or concern, they were very willing to help me out. Highly recommend their Paris program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I absolutely loved living in the very center of Paris. It was the best part of my Paris experience. I was definitely lonely, often, though. My host mother was rarely home and only cooked for me once per week for a Saturday brunch. I wish I had been able to connect with a host mother more. The bedroom, however, was absolutely tiny and very sparse. I would not like to sleep on that bed ever again.

* Food:

Food in Paris is the best in the world.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was able to connect with French family friends and other French students at the university which was a great experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I always felt very safe. Middlebury equipped us with a safety training and also applications for our location/safety in potential situations of emergency.

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

I absolutely loved Middlebury in Paris. There were times when I sorely missed home and Bowdoin, but that is only because I also love Bowdoin so much that I wanted to be in my two favorite places at once. The education I received was awesome and my language skills are incredibly advanced in comparison to before Paris, which was my top goal. I took in the beautiful sights of Europe and lived a true, vivid and authentic experience.

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)

Paris is very expensive! I am grateful to be have been able to be supported by my parents.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? upwards of $175 per week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Drinks are very expensive and can drain your budgeting. Make sure to have meals at home with friends over going out. However, I do not regret going out to restaurants as much as I did, because it must be done in Paris.

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

We signed a language-binding pledge to keep the whole semester.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French 2400 at Bowdoin College (seminar)
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? Before going to Paris, make sure to listen to as much French radio/watch French films as much as possible. Listening comprehension is everything.

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
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?
  • living directly in city center
  • friends made
  • new language skills
* What could be improved?
  • better host family, but great location
  • not taking 5 courses for bowdoin's credit transfer
  • if my friends had also lived near me
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known that the only way to truly live the best abroad experience is to be completely open and not draw comparisons to my life in the U.S. in the beginning.

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.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

La Premiere Renaissance Italienne

Course Department: L'Histoire de l'Art
Instructor: Anne-Laure Imbert
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was challenging because it was all in French and there was a significant amount of work in the end of the semester. All in all, I had no work throughout the semester, but then had 2 mid-terms, 1 final exam, and 1 presentation which ended up being a lot of work in December.
Credit Transfer Issues: No, the credits transferred as I expected.
Course Name/Rating:

Le Cinéma Russe et Soviétique

Course Department: L'Histoire de l'Art
Instructor: Ania SZCZEPANSKA
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was very demanding of the students, but the instruction was great and the professor was fabulous. She was really cool and was very interested in helping all of the students.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Française Intermédiare

Course Department: Middlebury
Instructor: Patrick Guedon
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This class was way too easy for me. Patrick sorted me into the class based on my initial interview with him, but I was rather beyond the level of French for this class.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Frexit: La France dans L'Europe

Course Department: Middlebury
Instructor: Marion Gaillard
Instruction Language: French
Comments: Marion is a very engaging and insightful professor. She was really interested in getting the class to participate and understand the material. It was just the right amount of work and difficulty.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

L'Art de la France Medievale

Course Department: Middlebury
Instructor: Julie Stevenson
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was very easy because we never had readings, but I wouldn't change the course at all. It was very interesting and Julie was a great professor. I am very glad I took it.
Credit Transfer Issues: No