Paris with Sarah Lawrence Past Review

By (Economics., Tufts University) for

Sarah Lawrence College: Paris - Sarah Lawrence College in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am glad I went abroad. However, it was not as much fun as I thought it would be. I learned a lot, though, about both the world and myself.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Sarah Lawrence in Paris, Paris VII (Diderot)
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was not difficult, but the fact that everything had to be done in French made things much more difficult. The grading system is very different from that of the US - getting 12/20 is like a B there. Nobody ever gets a perfect score and even 90% is very, very rare. Don't expect to ace anything. Grades are converted to American scores with this in mind - don't worry. Teaching methods are similar, but more lecture-based and less interactive, even in small classes. French students in the universities don't seem to really care about learning and often have full conversations between each other in the middle of class. Some teachers try to prevent this, some don't.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The people working for Sarah Lawrence in Paris were very helpful and nice. They were readily available and willing to help. They were knowledgeable on France and its educational system. The program size was smaller than I would have liked (only 15 people), but that's not something they chose by design. They usually have more people than that.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My neighborhood was the 11th arrondissement of Paris and is very safe and near many restaurants and bars. I was close to a good metro stop and I felt my location was great. Bedding, towels, and cookware were all provided. My host family was only a woman, which was disappointing, but she was very nice. There was also another international student there. I wish I had lived with a full French family, but overall I didn't mind my living situation that much. The other student was very nice and we often went out together. My living situation was not conducive to learning French, though, because my host mother preferred speaking English with me (despite her being French) and the other student did not speak French.

* Food:

I did not eat out as much as I wanted. It's expensive to eat out all the time. Therefore, I cooked for myself a lot. I can't cook much, so it was limited to basic meats, vegetables, and pasta. To really experience Parisian food, you need to eat out a lot, but I couldn't afford doing that for 5 months. Even a modest lunch can run over 10 euros.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We went to Marseille during orientation, and that was great. There were many activities throughout the semester, but many were canceled because not enough people had signed up for them. This happened frequently because fewer people than usual were on the abroad program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe. I did have one minor health issue during my program stay (sleep-related), and this was properly and helpfully addressed by the administration there.

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


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I had almost no personal expenses besides food. I probably spent 50 euros a week on groceries.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I recommend getting a subway monthly pass if you need to use it to get to class. It's about 60 euros a month (in Spring 2011). Avoid buying unnecessary things in your first month. Figure out what you spend on essentials for the first few weeks, and then budget what you can for things you want but can do without.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French 21
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced language with my French teachers and various French students that I met. I used French everyday when interacting with French people at stores and other public places. I only ever spoke English when speaking with other American students in the program. I assume many people spoke English but I always started conversations in French and they responded in French.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Staff
  • the other students
  • Class Flexibility
* What could be improved?
  • More Activities and Trips
  • larger number of students on the program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Sarah Lawrence has a very unique/interesting system, both in terms of how class works and what kind of work you do. Read up on this and see if it's something you like. Sarah Lawrence definitely favors 'free-form' education versus rigid structure.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Advanced French III

Course Department:
Instructor: Roland-Gosselin
Instruction Language: French
Comments: The class was well-organized and very similar to an American-taught French course even though the teacher was French. Madame Roland-Gosselin is a good teacher who really cares about the students, although she is capable of picking favorites. The class material is thorough and makes sense.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Modern Architecture in Paris

Course Department:
Instructor: Madame Moll
Instruction Language: French
Comments: The course is well-taught, but can be dry if you are not interested in the history of Architecture (I am not). I took this class thinking it was going to be about Architecture and design, but it was more of a history course and I was very often bored. The teacher is enthusiastic about the subject, which is a very good thing if you want to learn about the subject, but her enthusiasm caused her to not be pleased when others did not share that enthusiasm.
Credit Transfer Issues: