Paris: great host mother, engaging city, and rigidly administrative program Past Review

By (Anthropology., Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/07/2013 to 05/18/2013 with

Sarah Lawrence College: Paris - Sarah Lawrence College in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a certain confidence from living abroad and I feel like my French improved by leaps and bounds. I think it was important for me to live outside of my comfort zone for a semester. It was definitely worthwhile for me and I have an deep fondness for Paris.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I wanted the subject matter in my courses to be more interesting to me, and for the readings to connect to class discussions more.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program administration was very helpful and directive in certain areas and very hands-off in others. I wanted the program to be more consistent and realistic in their image of students' lives in Paris. I also felt that the program lacked a sense of community, and wish the program had fostered a stronger sense of that. I also wish I had known more about the academic structure of Sarah Lawrence programs (the idea of having a large semester-long project to work on for each class, required weekly meetings with professors, etc.) before I chose the program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe in Paris and had no problems. I made sure not to be out walking alone too late at night and to always go home before the metro closed. The advice I would give is to try not to appear as though confused or unsure of your whereabouts (not to appear like a tourist) and to keep a stern face when in busy public areas.

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


* 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)

It was easier to live on a student's budget while in a home-stay where my family cooked me meals frequently. However, Paris is very expensive and when I ate out it was very hard to keep a student budget.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to use cash only so you realize how much you're spending, and keep converting prices back to USD in your head. It's easy to start to think 10€ is like $10 after a while of being there, but it's very different. I would also suggest that students find babysitting and/or English tutoring jobs to help them stay afloat financially in Paris - a little cash flow goes a long way.


* 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
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? Living with a host family is the best way to practice the language and master it.

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
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • I liked the flexibility to take courses outside of Reid Hall such as art courses or courses at Paris' universities.
  • I loved my host family.
  • I loved being able to travel.
* What could be improved?
  • Social community building within the program.
  • Ways of meeting Parisian students of our age.
  • Rigidness of academic courses and administrative rules.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that Bank of America has a liaison with BNP Paribas in Paris so that you can withdraw Euros from an American Bank of America account for no fee. I also wish I knew that Sarah Lawrence requires bi-weekly meetings with each professor and that in each course you must complete a semester-long research project of your choosing within the subject matter. I wish I knew that as a second-semester student, the year-long students would not complete orientation with the non-Sarah Lawrence students.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Français II

Course Department: French
Instructor: Mme Bendelian
Instruction Language: French
Comments: I loved this class - we went on a few field trips in the city of Paris and even visited the professor's home. She was very knowledgeable and made learning about French culture really fun by creating a relaxed and engaging classroom atmosphere. I loved how we listened to French songs, read French stories, and studied famous Parisians. I felt like I learned a lot about Parisian culture and its arts. The course was not very challenging but I felt like I learned well. The small class size made me participate more often than I would have at my home institution. We were assessed with quizzes, papers, and oral presentations.
Credit Transfer Issues: