Paris, France is the Best City Ever Past Review

By (Art History, SUNY - College at Oswego) for

SUNY Oswego: Paris - La Sorbonne

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Firstly, my French improved ten-fold. I have always longed to travel but now it is more of a priority. I also have a much better understanding of France and how France views itself and other countries. I also have a much better perception of the US and how lucky we are to be Americans.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The main difference between French universities and American is the grading. In American schools it is typical for the final exam to count for maybe 50% of the grade, whereas in this university our final grammar exam counted for 80%. This means one can do well in the course but if one is unprepared for the final, a low overall can be expected.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I really enjoyed this program and would not change anything. The director's course was very interesting and fun and I really loved spending time with my fellow program-mates and our director. Celine was very supportive us and and always open to help with anything we needed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our neighborhood was not close to the school but it was very able to get on the bus and take a 20 minute ride. I really enjoyed where we lived because it was very close to the "Chinatown" section of Paris and a metro stop. The only kitchens were shared and we needed to buy any and all kitchen items.

* Food:

As Paris is a large city, I should imagine it's rather easy to find any sort of food you might be looking for. Do research on which cafes or restaurants are cheap because this is where I spent the bulk of my money.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Our director Celine arranged 3 weekend trips- to Normandie/Mont St. Michel/Saint Malo, the Loire Valley and Champagne. They were all awesome trips and definitely one of my favorite parts of studying abroad. It was so much fun to spend time outside of Paris in more authentic parts of the country and be led by a French person. I also witnessed a lot of protests/strikes which I have been led to believe is very typically French.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Paris can be dangerous if you are not smart about where you/your belongings are at certain times of the night. Gypsies/homeless people are everywhere. Be discrete and try to avoid touristy 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I did not buy many souvenirs while abroad but I did spend a lot of money on food. Grocery stores are less expensive than America but to eat at a restaurant, even a moderately priced one, can be $20 because of the exchange rate.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Taxis are very very expensive as are drinks at clubs. An unlimited monthly pass for the metro/bus is 68 euros, so about $90. I am not accustomed to cooking for myself and they do not sell Lean Cuisines in France, so I ate out at restaurants way more than I should have and that is where the bulk of my money went.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced French with my classmates, teachers and occasionally people who were interested in the fact that I was American. I never spoke English to any French person unless they spoke English to me first. Interestingly, only one employee at the Foyer where I stayed spoke English and he was rarely around, so French knowledge was very helpful when dealing with things related to my living space (moving in/out, understanding the rules, getting new lightbulbs).

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think someone who is enthusiastic and really wants to have a semester full of exploration and discovery would benefit from this program. If you are the type of student who is just going to go to class then go home and watch TV, this program is a waste of time and money. This is an opportunity to throw yourself into a vibrant and historic city!!