Paris: Best Semester of my College Career Past Review

By (Biology, General., Tufts University) for

SUNY Oswego: Paris - La Sorbonne

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad completely changed my life. Paris is just beautiful, and you will never get bored there. I am planning to go back for a year after I graduate. You grow a lot as a person from living abroad (basically on your own), and your French will improve enormously.

Personal Information

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 less than what I was accustomed to. However, the program was challenging in that our grades relied heavily on our performance on the final exam. Grading is definitely more strict as well. For my two lecture courses, I hardly had any day to day work. For my language course, we had several daily assignments as well as exposés throughout the semester.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My French program director was extremely knowledgeable and helped us all in our course selection, and also answered any questions we had about French culture/educational system. She made herself available 24/7 for the students in the program. However the program did not really have a headquarters or staff; we had to go through an office of La Sorbonne for questions related to our courses. This didn't pose any serious problems, but it could have been better organized. They also didn't offer many organized group outings/activities, considering the program fees.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with my extended family in the suburbs of Paris, about a 40 minute train ride from the center of Paris. I would really discourage this, as it prevented me from participating in nightlife and more generally, having the experience of living in Paris. However, since they spoke French to me, my language skills improved greatly.

* Food:

It is impossible to not eat well in France.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

If you study abroad in Paris, I would recommend visiting other cities in France as well. I loved Paris, but it's an entirely different atmosphere outside of the city and it made me appreciate the country much more as a whole.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

We were warned in advance not to take the RER or Metro very late at night. You must be cautious in riding the RER after 10pm, especially if you are a female riding alone, since some of the suburbs are especially unsafe and foreigners are often the target of pickpockets. I knew of two people who were either pickpocketed or harrassed for money. I didn't really feel like I was unsafe during my time abroad at all though; you just have to be careful as you would in any other big city.

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? 30-50 euros. I only bought lunch 5 days a week, since the rest of my food came from home. I would highly recommend CROUS, the student dining facilities located around the city. Only 3 euros for a really good meal! I also didn't go out at night very much, so my expenses were pretty minimal.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Be aware of the exchange rate! You may think you have a lot to spend, but it'll end up only being a little over half once you convert to euros. Paris is also a very expensive city in general (though I would choose it over any other city in a heartbeat). Save money if you want to travel to other cities in Europe as well.


* 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 spoke French with some of my friends and family. However, most students in my specific program spoke English to one another. Additionally, most people in Paris speak English so you must make an effort to speak French in order to improve.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Meeting new people
  • Having time outside of classes to explore Paris
  • Taking classes in French
* What could be improved?
  • Rigor of courses
  • Not enough contact with French citizens
  • More group outings
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Make an effort to speak French, no matter what program you choose. I found that the workload was not very much at all for this program, but I still loved my time there and learned a lot. If you want something for academically challenging, choose a different program.