Different than Expected but Incredible Just the Same Past Review

By (Film Studies, Sarah Lawrence College) - abroad from 09/03/2012 to 05/15/2013 with

Sarah Lawrence College: Paris - Sarah Lawrence College in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned an infinite amount of new things while abroad, many things that I probably don't even notice on a day-to-day basis. I learned to be patient with myself and others and I finally got a chance to understand being a REAL outsider. I also gained a lot of self-confidence in standing up to people, as regular confrontation is a staple of French (and Spanish/Italian) society. Most of all I really surprised myself with my accomplishments and pushed myself to a new level. It wasn't always easy or fun or enjoyable, but I would do it all over again and I will always treasure the experience.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It is difficult to integrate into Parisian culture. The language barrier is one thing (even if you are very adept with speaking French) but Parisians tend to be somewhat wary of Americans. However, if you have a good sense of humor about yourself and a willingness to talk to people you don't know, acclimating should not be difficult

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never dealt with medical issues in Paris. I did have a hospital visit while visiting Barcelona, Spain, and the program directors were very helpful and kind during that experience.

* Safety:

I felt very safe in Paris, especially within the program. I am used to Manhattan though, so someone coming to the program without previous experience living in a city might have some apprehension. However, this dissipates quickly!

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)

Paris is an expensive city to live in, unless you buy groceries every week and make all of your own meals.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I probably spent about 75 euros a week on food.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy groceries and make your own dinner/breakfast when you can. If you feel like going out to eat, AVOID TOURIST TRAPS! Certain areas (Chatelet, Saint-Germain, Rue de Rivoli) are full of big, expensive restaurants with sub-par food. Head towards the smaller neighborhoods to find amazing and affordable food (République, Bastille, Pigalle).


* 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 were required to speak French at all times while in class and on the campus grounds.

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? Advanced French at Sarah Lawrence
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/couple/person is a fabulous way to quickly grasp the language. You speak it first thing in the morning and last thing just before bed. That helps it stick more.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
  • The quality of professors and courses (overall academics).
  • Getting the chance to meet so many interesting people.
* What could be improved?
  • Giving students better awareness of day-to-day life expectations beforehand.
  • Orientation for second-semester incoming students so that everyone can really get to know one another.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I'd known that Parisians' bark is stronger than their bite. People might act haughty and judgmental, but they are just as (if not MORE) insecure than you might be.

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!