Noticing the Details in Paris July 07, 2022

By (French - Sociology, Political Science, History, Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/04/2022 to 05/21/2022 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself and what I want out of life, not to mention that I gained more practical language skills and strengthened many friendships.

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.

Learning half time at a local university was very challenging. My language competencies were not quite good enough to be taking thematic courses at the university level. Although my language skills (particularly reading comprehension) improved greatly because I was part time at the local university, I felt a lack of confidence that prevented me from participating in class. Professors in France can be unfriendly towards classroom contributions that they deem unhelpful, which further dissuaded me from participating. Thus, I didn't quite get that crucial opportunity to practice academic discussion. If I could change one thing, I would ask that Middlebury courses in Paris become slightly more "US-style" to make up for this loss, involving more participation and discussion. Middlebury wishes to immerse its students in French culture and teaching style (lectures), but I think it is equally important that we get the chance to improve as language speakers.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Middlebury College in France is extremely supportive; the staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and genuinely cares about your experience. They have a wealth of advice and advocacy skills, and even one short conversation helps you get back on track if you are having issues.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved living with a host family. They guided me through the transition to Paris, included me in daily life, and were key in helping me improve my language skills.

* Food:

Nothing surprising here.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living with a host family helped me feel integrated in the local culture, but it was difficult making French friends. I wish there had been more scheduled opportunities through Middlebury to meet local people, perhaps those students who had studied abroad at Middlebury in Vermont in prior years.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Healthcare is easier to access in France because of online health scheduling services like Docotolib. Be aware that medical professionals in France have different standards of privacy. COVID tests were very prevalent and fairly affordable in Paris; results were fast and easy to access. The health insurance through Middlebury seemed easy to use, as well.

* Safety:

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

I liked this program because I felt accompanied and supported, but had the freedom to make my own decisions. They give excellent advice about academics, extracurriculars, and safety.


* 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)

Although there is a lot of free cultural events (museums, etc), food is very expensive, as is travel.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 125


* 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? Advanced
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? Live with a host family and/or another student speaking at a similar level, choose a new phrase to work into conversation each week, watch TV series in that language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • the environment I needed to really improve my speaking skills
  • easily accessible support and advice
  • freedom to make my own decisions
* What could be improved?
  • more participation in Middlebury classes
  • more opportunities to meet locals
  • communicate with language professors teaching at schools in the US - make sure they are preparing students for French academic exercises/standards
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Be prepared to be a mediocre student, because taking "real" courses in another language is very difficult. Local people are very hard to meet and get close to, so it is important to seek out those who are internationally-minded and truly interested in meeting new people. Make sure to keep a journal and write in it at least a few times a week, or when travelling.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: French
Instructor: Laurence Langlois
Instruction Language: French
Comments: The course was fairly challenging, but I wish there had been more presentation of the materials/day's lesson before diving in. The course dealt with a lot of very similar, small details in the spoken language, and it was easy to get lost (at least for me as a visual learner). I learned a great deal about spoken French, and I do believe this class helped me identify and understand those little details in my speech that could make my French sound more fluid. Unfortunately, the field trip was organized outside of scheduled class time and conflicted with another course, so I could not go. We were assessed with paper and oral exams. Homework was not assessed; had it been, perhaps it would have helped get the class working at the same level and we would have seen more results.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues that I know of.
Course Name/Rating:

The European Union in Crisis

Course Department: Political Science
Instructor: Marion Gaillard
Instruction Language: French
Comments: Madame Gaillard is an incredibly passionate and knowledgeable professor, and I enjoyed getting her perspective on the EU as a euro-convinced scholar. This class was a great overview of the EU, mixing the history of the institution with the contemporary challenges it faces. I come away with a great deal of knowledge. Like the other course I took with Middlebury, homework was not really assessed in anyway. My only wish is that it had involved more discussion/debates in addition to lectures so that completed readings could be put to use, knowledge could be tested, and language skills could be improved.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues that I know of.