Full immmersion makes for more challenges than fun moments August 07, 2018

By (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor) - abroad from 01/04/2018 to 05/28/2018 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about myself and what I value and I learned a lot about French culture and my French language skills improved

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.

Some classes at the Middlebury center Madeleine were awesome and super interesting with the right amount of work and great teachers but others were more difficult with teachers that were not helpful. At the Sorbonne my classes and teachers varied greatly as well but overall it was just a lot of work. I had big important papers pretty much every week that took a very long time for me to do well and it was stressful so it ended up taking away a lot from my overall experience because I was much less free to relax and travel and enjoy myself.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The people are very nice but I wish that they had done some othe the orientation things a little differently like I had already bought a new SIM card and metro pass by the time they gave us advice on which ones to get and stuff. They tried to help as much as possible and put in some nice events but some things like tutoring and stuff like that could be handled a bit differently.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom was a very nice woman but it just felt more like I was a tenant rather than a member of the family and I had chose. A host family because I wanted that familial comfort because I was nervous about going abroad and everything. Also in general with everyone living in host families all over the city and the suburbs it made it much more difficult to meet up and it felt pretty isolating.

* Food:

Obviously to food in France is amazing even tho I literally gained like 15 pounds

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt pretty integrated into the culture or I guess at least felt like I could see it and understand it. Personally I just never really felt like I fit in or found my place but I got to appreciate the French culture a lot of that makes sense

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never really had an issue but called a few doctors offices a few times and it was a good experience

* Safety:

I never felt in danger, especially not any more than I do here in the US. There are always some creepy guys in every city but I always felt safe walking around in Paris, in part because there is a good police presence.

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

I am happy that I went on this program because I got to learn a lot about myself and push myself out of my comfort zone but the academics of this program in combination with living in a host family was super isolating and difficult. I had so much school work I couldn’t be exploring Europe at all, not nearly as much as so many people who do other study abroad programs do and then when I was done with work my host family was nice but it felt more like a tenant relationship and not family and the language pledge made it difficult for me to make friends at first. I finally did once I started breaking the pledge and I wish I had realized it sooner but it seriously impacted the first few months of my 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)

I am very lucky to have my parents support but I didn’t spend tons and tons of money, especially if you cook your own food and stuff on days when you don’t have meals with your host family and there are tons of free museums and things to do for students

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 50-75$

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 took a language pledge and could only speak French while at school and then had to speak French at home because we lived with host families

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? French 270
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? Stick to the pledge at first but don’t take it too seriously, it is much more fun and easier to make friends if you don’t and I wish I had realized that earlier

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?
  • The city of paris
  • Friends that I made
  • French skills improved
* What could be improved?
  • Classss were tough which made it hard to enjoy other stuff
  • Living situation just wasn’t a good fit for me
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I would have known how academically difficult it would be and moreso how much that would affect the rest of my experience. I also wish I knew not to follow the language pledge. I would have rather made more/better friends and not had my French improve as much.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

EU in crisis

Course Department: Middlebury
Instructor: Marion Gaillard
Instruction Language: French
Comments: Super super interesting material and Marion was amazing with a very reasonable amount of work
Credit Transfer Issues: I don’t know yet
Course Name/Rating:

Grand monarchy of France during the renaissance

Course Department: Middlebury
Instructor: Xavier le person
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This class is not super well organized like the prof doesn’t go in chronological order so you kind of have to put that together for yourself and he basically just tells a bunch of random stories about members of the monarchy during the Renaissance so it is hard to tell what is important. He also gave very difficult assignments and was extremely particular about what he wanted but refused to answer questions other than super basic stuff before the assignment was due and then afterwards when he was handing the papers back he would be like “so you guys didn’t really get the assignment” after we had spent weeks asking him about it and he didn’t help.
Credit Transfer Issues: I don’t know yet
Course Name/Rating:

Dutch and Flemmish art of the 15th to 17th century

Course Department: Art history at Paris 1 pantheon/Sorbonne license 2
Instructor: Nativel/ Laëtitia pierre
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This class was really pretty hard, especially the discussion section. Laëtitia was not good at budgeting time for everyone to present so we would have to come in on saturdays and be there for 4 hours and it counted against you if you missed it and she was a pretty harsh grader and for me the assignments were pretty challenging. Nativel was nice and the lectures were good tho.
Credit Transfer Issues: I don’t know yet
Course Name/Rating:

History of photography

Course Department: Art history at Paris 1 pantheon sobonne license 2
Instructor: Marie auger
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was really really interesting and the profs were super nice and easy to understand and the assignments were reasonable but definitely not too tough or too time consuming like some other classes were for me.
Credit Transfer Issues: I don’t know yet