Extreme Personal Growth in the areas of Independence and Confidence: HARD WORK November 10, 2023

By (Biology, Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/03/2023 to 05/20/2023 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to trust myself and my capabilities and my French improved a lot. It was extremely stressful and at times downright unpleasant, but I'm proud of myself and my commitment to learning. It WAS worth it, but I think the importance of support systems for students studying abroad needs to be underlined more than it was.

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.

The difficulty level was reasonable and as expected, although it was harder than I thought it would be to adjust to all of my classes being in French. That made it hard for me to find the resources I needed at my host institution, but in my Middlebury classes I was more easy able to find and use the resources I needed.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration at Middlebury in Paris was helpful, patient, and knowledgeable. I was glad to feel so comfortable there since everything else was very overwhelming!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was satisfied with the accommodations but less happy with my host pairing; I specified that I needed a host who was comfortable with LGBTQ students and I felt very uncomfortable with some homophobic comments that my host made.

* Food:

I ended up liking French food more than I expected! I appreciated my host cooking for me, but there were several times when she forgot I didn't eat beef or pork so I didn't have many options for dinners those nights when I planned on eating with her.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It wasn't particularly easy to 'fit in' in Paris but I felt more welcomed once I stopped worrying so much about that and focused on connecting with people I saw regularly in my neighborhood. It was hard to make friends with people in my UPC classes but I tried my best to study and hang out with classmates.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Shout out to Karima Kerrouchi because she helped me SO much. I needed a lot of logistical help because I was sick multiple times while abroad, and she helped me figure out my insurance and paperwork! THANK YOU KARIMA!

* Safety:

I felt safe except for being harassed by young men late at night on the metro. I would like to say to all future students: if someone makes you uncomfortable, don't worry about being rude! Be rude back! Be weird to them so they leave you alone!! All that matters is that you keep yourself safe <3

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

I think a smaller program would have been a better fit for me.


* 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 was very unprepared for how to budget for the cost of living in Paris, which was MUCH higher than in rural Vermont. This caused me severe stress and anxiety and had a very negative effect on my experience.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Between 100-200 depending on if I needed to renew my metro card. It was hard to budget properly for food because I felt really uncomfortable taking up space in my host's fridge.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you're a low-income student, start saving up early on in college for study abroad. Also, be prepared ahead of time for wealthier students to be constantly going out to eat and to the club, and traveling on the weekends.


* 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

I knew that the expectation was for only French to be used.

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 0224
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? I would suggest not to expect perfection from yourself right away. Ease into full immersion even if it's expected right away so that you're able to maintain and improve your commitment. I was so overwhelmed when I arrived that the immediate 100% French expectation turned into me not talking- it's important to strive for total immersion but it's more important that you ask important questions, share concerns or areas you need support in, and can integrate into your language and its culture.

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?
  • Exploring Paris and traveling to other countries during break
  • My grammar class
  • The chance to be independent in a new environment
* What could be improved?
  • host family pairings aka students requests need to be taken seriously
  • transparency of additional costs
  • sense of community in the middlebury program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how lonely I would be. I'm used to solitude in rural Vermont, but being lonely in a city was so much harder.

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:

Actress as a Novel Character

Course Department: French
Instruction Language: French
Comments: I really liked the teacher and the materials we read in class. I would have liked more in-class discussions and less lecturing, although I know that is very typical of French teaching. Our field trips were enriching and gave me the opportunity to attend the theatre.
Credit Transfer Issues: Yes, but that is because I was confused about a step in the process. I would suggest doing it right away to avoid issues and so you know as soon as possible if you need help or have questions.
Course Name/Rating:

Advanced French: Low

Course Department: French
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This was such a fun class more me; I loved how structured it was because I always knew exactly what I needed to do. The communication was very clear and so were the expectations: an environment that set me up for success. I learned so much about French grammar and tools for how to study well to learn languages.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to Ecology

Course Department: Environmental Studies
Instruction Language: French
Comments: I really liked this course's content, but the format of meeting only four times for lecture and once for lab was not ideal for me. I prefer to learn less material at once to spread out the content. I retain information better that way. The field trip to Bois de Vincennes was really exciting and I enjoyed that fieldwork in addition to our time in the lab.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Infectology: Microbiology, Virology, Immunology

Course Department: Biology
Instruction Language: French
Comments: This class was one of the hardest and one of the most interesting that I've ever taken. It was very difficult to understand at first since it was A LOT of material, but I learned SO much from this class and I would recommend it highly to future students. It was challenging that each section of the class had a different professor because, especially in the beginning, it was overwhelming just to keep track of so many professors (one each in the lecture and one each for the small group section for a total of 6). The content, however, was so interesting. The exam at the end was disappointing- I didn't feel well prepared for a French-style exam since it was my first ever (midterms were online due to strikes).
Credit Transfer Issues: