Sciences Po Menton: Fun, Friendship, and Red Tape Past Review

By (International Relations, Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/24/2015 to 12/18/2015 with

Sciences Po Paris in Menton: Menton - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself and I became a lot more independent. Menton was absolutely beautiful and I liked that classes weren't that intense so I had the opportunity to travel a lot. I also really liked the friends that I made and will stay in touch with most of them. I thought that it was worthwhile even though it wasn't what I was expecting when I went

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.

There were a limited number of courses that an exchange student could take, which was frustrating. I didn't have class that frequently and the schedule changed every week, but I did enjoy the classes that I did have and I thought that they were well taught for the most part.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was not very flexible and it took multiple e-mails and visits to get responses. I felt that a lot of was unnecessarily bureaucratic, which is a major difference that I found between France and the US. In order to be successful, you need to be really aggressive and figure it out by yourself and ask for help from other students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in the student housing. The housing was fine and the location was close to school and it was nice living with other students and getting to know them. The housing administration was very frustrating though and I thought that there were a lot of unnecessary rules, but living in the university housing meant that I didn't need to go through the hassle of finding my own apartment although there were exchanges that did find apartments in the town.

* Food:

I cooked for myself in the shared kitchen or ate out. Menton has a lot of grocery stores and a really great farmers market and I really liked cooking for myself.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I became really close with some of the other exchange students and first year students. Sciences Po didn't have nearly as many social opportunities as I was used to with my home university. There is also a lot of division between the French and the English track and I needed to make extra effort to interact and speak French with the French students

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I saw a local doctor twice during the program. He spoke English which was nice and I was able to get reimbursed for fees from the government. The administration didn't connect me with him, but it was relatively easy to find information from other students. The visits and check-ups themselves were a lot less intense than they are in the US, which led to some problems when I returned home and realized that he should have done some tests that he didn't.

* Safety:

Menton is a small town and I almost always felt safe. I would recommend walking late at night with groups of people, but that is a general rule of thumb for almost anywhere.

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)

I didn't eat out much and spent most of my money on traveling and on going out.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $80-$150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would make a budget each week and stick really closely to it since it is very easy to spend a lot of money, especially when going out.


* 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

There is a French and an English track and unless you test into a high level of French, all of the classes except for a French language class will be in English. The administration didn't really encourage interaction between the French and English speakers. I made it a goal to have one conversation in French every day with someone and without that goal, I don't think I would have used that much French beyond what it takes to go about daily life.

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 300
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 recommend really putting the effort into interacting in French with shopkeepers and French students and other French speakers as much as possible. It is really easy to only interact with English speakers so it is something to really be aware of.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* 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?
  • location
  • friends
  • classes
* What could be improved?
  • administration
  • classes
  • clarity regarding rules and requirements
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had known that I really had to be an advocate of for myself and that I shouldn't just assume that the information that I needed, such as information regarding testing, switching classes, bank accounts etc. would be given to me. I also wish that I would have had the foresight to realize that there would be costs that I didn't take into account, like laundry and school-organized social events that made me adjust my planned budget while I was there. I also learned that I need to be aggressive in demanding what I needed and that follow-up is very important. I also wished that I had known that it wouldn't have been a particularly academically strenuous semester. In the end, it was a good thing that it wasn't since I was able to focus on personal growth and travel, but had I really needed it to be academic, it would have been a frustrating experience