How I learned to stop worrying and profit off my abundant free time July 31, 2018

By (Tufts University) - abroad from 01/03/2018 to 05/19/2018 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I found that in addition to my French developing, I learned what it's like to live in the middle of a city and navigate it, how to cope with cultural differences—including with the people I live with—and, above all, how to deal with having a lot of free time and alone time. I think it was very worthwhile, and I exit a more mature and well-rounded person

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.

This is less an indictment of Middlebury than the french education system as a whole; I found Middlebury's professors engaging and knowledgable, but the assignments lacked depth and opportunities to engage critical thinking (partially due to the French penchant for oral presentations). My courses at Sciences Po were underwhelming to the point of disappointing, but that again is a result of the system and the way my professors failed to run cohesive classes. Middlebury's in-house classes were vastly superior.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

All the administrators were kind, understanding, and ready to do anything that needed to be done.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

It's Paris; of course the food is great.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was difficult to escape American culture, since it is essentially part of the French metropolitan culture. My immersion was never total because of the global nature of the city, but that wasn't a problem.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I went to a specialist one time, and it was covered by the Middlebury insurance, and the system was easy to use.

* Safety:

I always felt safe in Paris; there was a minor terrorist attack my last week there and I had to cross the city to go home and I never felt in danger. Middlebury was quick to reach out to all students after the incident to check in on us.

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

The linguistic immersion was extremely helpful, and the people I met were all wonderful. I had great support systems and an optimal living situation. The Middlebury Center is extremely well-located and enjoyable to spend time in.

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)

I had to acquire lunch everyday and dinner three times a week. Paris can be expensive, and it took me a while to adjust to finding cheap options. That and spending money on culture and social excursions made weekly life more pricey.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook if possible; meal-prepping lunches saves a ton of money.

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

The language pledge engaged me in French, made me like the language more, and brought my spoken and aural comprehension miles forward.

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? French 31—early literature
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Go out of your way to speak it, even if someone tries to engage you in English

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Language Pledge
  • Centre Madeleine
  • Excursions
* What could be improved?
  • More programming
  • Shorter orientation period
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I wouldn't necessarily click with the academic system in the country; I had assumed it would be similar and was least prepared for the academic, not the social, culture shock

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.'