Semester in Paris February 05, 2023

By (Environmental Architecture, Middlebury College) - abroad from 08/31/2022 to 12/06/2022 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a personal perspective on a country that I had always studied. I was able to immerse myself into the culture and gain considerable independence and confidence navigating a place that I knew little about when I arrived. This experience pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and test my ability to navigate a busy city and communicate in a different language.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My first few weeks I had quite a few difficulties with my host family. Prior to my departure for France I had some issues getting in touch with my host family and when I arrived there seemed to be an expectation that I would stay out of the way and

* Food:

In my host family I was often given quick and easy meals because my host mom did not have time to cook for me before her yoga class. These included omelettes and dinner plates of hummus, crackers, and coleslaw. Considering the amount that I was paying for meals with my host family, I found it quite upsetting that I would sometimes receive a snack for a meal or be asked last minute to go find my own dinner at a restaurant. I was also not allowed to use the kitchen or store food items in the home. This came as a shock to me as it was one of the reasons me and my host mom were matched, based on our love for baking and cooking. These issues aside, I found it relatively easy to find food for lunch and would often go with friends. Sometimes this was difficult due to time constraints between classes and on those days it would have been helpful to have been able to prepare a meal at home.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

When we were asked to test because of an uptick in Covid cases I think it would have been better had tests been made available to students at the Centre Madeleine for pick up. In my particular situation, when I was told that I would need to test prior to classes the following day, I was released late from an architecture studio that typcally ends at around 6:30. With the hour metro ride back home and the knowledge my host mom would have dinner ready for that time it was quite difficult for me to go out and get a test prior to my early morning class the next day. Other than this, I appreciated the sanitizing protocols in the Centre Madeleine and other precautions that were taken to minimize the spread of covid.

* Safety:

Overall I did not have many issues with safety. There was one incident in the park near my home where I did feel like I was in danger. I had just dropped a friend off at the metro station on the opposite end of the park when a man approached me and began talking to me. At one point I became extremely concerned about my safety and tried to get away from him but he began following me to my apartment. There wasn't much I could do to avoid this but I decided to walk quickly to a location where I knew there were police officers. In an urelated instance, I was locked out of my apartment multiple times when returning home from school and trips. My host mom would have me leave my keys with her so I didn’t lose them and would put her keys in the door when I left (this was an issue my first day when she had a friend over and even after I rang the doorbell she refused to remove her keys from the lock). The issue being that if she was there I couldn’t come in even if I had keys and the second being that I would have to wait outside for other residents to enter the locked gate and main door in order to gain access to the apartment. When this happened the weather conditions were often poor outside (pouring rain and cold) so it was slightly concerning having to wait outside for 15-30 minutes even after communication via text letting my host mother know the time I would be arriving and her indicating she was at home.

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

I really enjoyed this program and its language pledge. I felt that my french greatly improved and I was able to experience architecture at a french architecture school and in a city where I could easily study architectural precedents. That said, there seemed to be a lack of communication between my college in Paris and the school where I was taking courses. This lack of communication made my transition to Paris quite difficult and somewhat difficult throughout my stay. That aside, I greatly enjoyed the experience and opportunities with my college to explore Paris and regions outside of the city. Some of my favorite activities with the program included a trip to Normandy and a wine and cheese tasting.


* 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)

2.5. If I had known that I would be unable to use the kitchen at my host family's appartment I would not have stayed in a host family. My host mom would often ask me to eat out which was rather expensive as I had anticipated being able to cook and eat leftovers.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150, supplies for architecture courses were extremely expensive.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Take advantage of student discounted prices fo rmeals and other activities.


* 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 could only use the french language after we signed the language pledge our first week of classes.

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? I completed a 300 level course at my university before departure
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? Always stick to the language and listen to the phrases used around you.

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 opportunity to make connections with locals
  • Emphasis on mastering the french language
  • Learning by utilising my surroundings and the city
* What could be improved?
  • Communication between my university and the french university I took courses with
  • Accountability for experiences of students in Host Families of Paris
  • Estimation of financial expenses
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I now know that ESA, the architecture school where I took half of my classes, is an environment that can be difficult to insert yourself into. The school was divided into different levels, each level consisting of a small number of students. Each level took all of their classes together and these classes built off of each other. Those of us taking only two classes at the school and sometimes in different levels, found that we stood out to other students and often were asked questions by professors and peers about why we were not attending other classes.

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:

Advanced French

Course Department: French
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course greatly improved my reading skills, oral and listening comprehension. However, a little more organization during class time would reduce the amount of work that was done outsde of class to stay on track.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Arts L2S1

Course Department: ESA Architecture
Instruction Language: French
Comments: Yes, this was a challenging class and our final presenation at the end of the course tested by french oral skills. What I did not know going into this class is that most of the courses at ESA are intertwined. That said, my art course was for a different level architecture studio and all of the work we did for the class was tied to a site and project for that studio. In order to do well, I did have to put in effort to visit the site and speak with other students.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Architecture Studio L1S2

Course Department: ESA Architecture
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This was a challenging course given the weekly critics in french, often one on one between professor and student. We visited sites on our own time, often on weekends for site pictures and understanding. I felt I learned a lot about architectural processes, particula
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Spectacle of Paris in French Literature

Course Department: French
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This was a challenging but informative class. I especially enjoyed weekly assignments of watching old historically important films, reading poetry, and reading novels. This class forced me to improve my reading skills and listening comprehension skills, in order to successfuly write my final paper synthesizing what I had learned about the Spectacle of Paris.
Credit Transfer Issues: