Bad housing situation overshadows an otherwise good semester February 08, 2023

By (International Relations and German, Middlebury College) - abroad from 08/28/2023 to 01/20/2023 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot of resilience and adaptability because of several though situations which I found myself in. I gained greater proficiency in French and formed valuable contacts and gained life and professional skills from my academic internship. It was also cool to study in such an important place culturally

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.

I enjoyed the classes that I took at Paris 1 with Alya Aglan and Bertrand Simon, and the one class I took at Middlebury with Marion Gaillard. I received adequate academic support in terms of tutoring and methodology courses, as well as proofreading/grammar help

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host mom from August till mid-November and in an all-girls foyer until the end of December. I had a very bad time with my host mom. She was going through a divorce and was emotionally unstable and also very stressed because of the energy crisis. She constantly made snide comments to me about the amount of energy I was using- how much water I could use to boil my potatoes, when I could charge my electronics, etc. I also had an incident where I had to go to the police about a man that tried to follow me home, and she was angry that I had given the police our address even though the policewoman taking my statement had said multiple times that is was confidential. My host mom then asked me to promise that I speak with her before going to the police if another incident happened again, proceeded to insist that it was not confidential, and that there had been women who had been hunted down and killed by their abusers in the past when it was not confidential. I considered all of this incredibly inappropriate and selfish, and her words made me feel unsafe. She had also one time complained that "Paris has too many Romanians" (knowing full well that I am Romanian), and made racially insensitive comments about Asian people and comments against gay people. And all of this is on top of complaining about her ex husband to me, which also made me feel uncomfortable. I was much happier when I moved moved into the Jerôme Lejeune residence in mid-November, but the way that all of this was handled by Host Families in Paris was truly unprofessional and disappointing. I would give my housing experience zero stars if I could.

* Food:

I cooked most of my own food. Grocery shopping was pretty affordable, which was nice.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated for a few reasons: 1. I took a masters level class at Paris 1, which was a lot smaller in size; 2. I took a sports class at Paris 1, which also allowed me to meet people based on a non-academic interest; 3. I moved to an all-girls foyer in mid-November, which helped me meet more people my age.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I visited an allergist through GeoBlue. The allergist, Dr. Edouard Letellier, was helpful and kind enough to accommodate my American allergy shots. Middlebury Staff was accommodating in showing me how to get a visit prepaid and how to request reimbursement. The office was pretty far from where I was living in the 15th arrondissement.

* Safety:

I was pickpocketed once but adjusted my way of carrying my stuff around the city and that did not happen again.

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

I did not have much of a choice to choose another program because I am a Middlebury student, and as I result I had very high standards which were not met. Looking back, I would not do the program if I were housed with a host family, but would only do it if I could have been given a spot in a foyer. i did not feel very supported by the program staff in Paris regarding the issues I had with my housing, and was sometimes made to feel like I was being too dramatic in my complaints about Host Families in Paris. Although my experience did have a lot of positives (which I talk about below), just knowing how much stress I went through due to poor choices made by the middlebury program and its associates, and anticipating an uphill battle to get my credits to transfer, I am not sure that in hindsight all of the stress was worth it


* 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)

Food when I was cooking for myself was affordable, but when I went out to eat it was quite expensive. Transportation is also very expensive- 75 euros/month which is about 18 euros a week.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent around 300/week, but I traveled quite a bit and did a fair amount of shopping
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't go to Paris. But seriously, don't eat out much if you can help it cause the costs add up


* 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? Fluent
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? A 300-level French class/post-AP French Lit? I went to French elementary school and that's how I became fluent though
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? Don't be afraid to make mistakes! Everyone does. Be kind and patient with yourself.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The course programming at the centre madeleine
  • cultural activities organized by kelly
  • academic internship
* What could be improved?
  • screening for host families
  • accountability for HFP
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had known not to choose to live with a host family

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:

La France dans l'Europe

Course Department: ?
Instructor: Marion Gaillard
Instruction Language: French
Comments: I loved the material, course structure, and professor so much!!! Marion is such a badass lady in addition to being a phenomenal teacher. She was so knowledgeable and well-prepared, and I learned so much not only about European construction, but also about current cultural issues in France like secularism, abortion, PACS, etc. There was one class field trip to important French governmental buildings which I did not attend as I was sick, but she organized other non-mandatory cultural outings that added to the course such as seeing a movie and a play. I participated in class more than normal, cause the class had seven students. We were assessed by two quizzes, one oral presentation, a research paper, and an exam.
Credit Transfer Issues: hopefully not. grades don't get released until after i take this survey so we'll see ;)
Course Name/Rating:

Guerre, politique, et sociétés du XIX-XX siècle

Course Department: History
Instructor: Alya Aglan and Valentina Vardabasso
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This course was challenging, as it covered every major war and genocide starting with the Crimean war, spanning four continents. It did not make any use of the location. Both teachers were knowledgeable and well-prepared, but the TD professor (Vardabasso) was very mercurial and would change the syllabus from class to class. I did not participate in class as I normally would back home, because the class was a lot bigger than I am used to. I was assessed by one oral presentation (which ended up not counting) and two written assignments
Credit Transfer Issues: we shall see, my grades only get released once I complete this survey
Course Name/Rating:

Médias et compétitions politiques

Course Department: Political Science, Master in Political Communication
Instructor: Bertrand Simon
Instruction Language: French
Comments: I really enjoyed this class, which was about the way that traditional and social media impacts elections and political engagement. No relevant field trips. The professor is responsible for the international students in the political science department, and is very kind and helpful in answering questions and helping students adapt to a new environment. i will say that he does talk very fast so be prepared for some furious note taking. I participated in class as much as my home institution, which is to say a lot. I was assessed on one written textual summary/analysis and one oral presentation
Credit Transfer Issues: Have not tried yet, grades are released after I complete this survey