Pushing myself and gaining confidence while abroad! Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/10/2014 to 05/23/2014 with

Sweet Briar College: JYF in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile. I gained a lot of confidence in myself and my ability to navigate the world and challenging new situations. I think the experience was very hard for me and at times draining, but I loved pushing myself and I am so happy to have gained so much confidence from the experience, and also I have gained a desire to see the world and open my eyes more to the huge spectrum of life 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.

This program was very academically rigorous because each student usually enrolls directly into Parisian University for at least two courses. This program is for students with a strong background in french who are ready to push themselves in their language skills. Additionally, students take usually two courses at the Sweet Briar Center (in the heart of Paris) with the other Americans enrolled at Sweet Briar. These courses were extremely good, especially the Atelier d'Ecriture with Madame Mellado- this was the best french class I have ever taken and she was one of the best teachers I have ever had. She made me enjoy a french grammar class!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

All of the administrators and teachers at Sweet Briar were excellent, extremely organized, kind, and responsive.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a homestay, which most students at Sweet Briar do. Overall, this was a very good experience, because SB is a homestay based program most of the students who are in the program are very committed to learning and practicing french, which created a nice environment of committed and academic students. Everyones homestay experiences were different, some better than others, mine I felt was about in the middle. I felt safe and comfortable in my homestay and I was well taken care of. I did not feel a deep connection with my homestay family, but it was still a positive experience because my french improved a lot by eating with them everyday and I also felt very independent in my life in Paris.

* Food:

Unbelievable, in my homestay, and everywhere...its France!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated because I was enrolled directly into Parisian University for half my classes and living with a host family. It was hard to my parisian friends though, but I ultimately did have one french friend which was nice!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

No health issues while abroad, but I felt very safe in France because my friends who had health issues, those issues were dealt with at no cost to them because France has socialized health care, so everyone is taken care of.

* Safety:

Most of the time I felt safe in France, always during the daytime and when I was with others I felt safe. If I was alone at night, on the metro or walking home I would feel a bit nervous, but partially I think that is just my nature. Additionally, pick pocketing is a very serious problem in Paris so I was pretty aware of my belongings at all times, especially in the metros and touristic areas, all students studying in Paris should be extremely aware of this, at least a third of the people I knew in Paris had something stolen from them while they were there.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* 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 very easy. Paris is extremely expensive and there are so many opportunities when one is abroad that it is hard to limit oneself, especially in regards to weekend travels and food.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around 30 euros, but I ate lunch and dinner with my host family.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? It is extremely hard. Decide what you want to splurge on and accept that, and then try to limit other things.

Language

* 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 had to speak french in the Sweet Briar Office. We had to speak french in all of our courses, and at home with our host families. It was very intense. But not quite as intense as a few other programs, such as Middlebury where each student needs to sign a contract saying they will only speak french while in Paris.

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 104B
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? Meet up with friends who are also speaking that language and practice with them in an informal way. Classes help of course, but informal practice goes a very long way.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Living with a host family who only spoke french.
  • Traveling to other places on the weekends and breaks!
  • The challenges of living in a big city!
* What could be improved?
  • The french bureaucracy is ridiculously disorganized.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That it is a very rigorous program and to prepare to do real work. A lot of people say that studying abroad is like a semester long vacation, Sweet Briar is not like that, but ultimately I am glad that it was a challenging semester because I feel that I learned a lot and grew a lot because of this.

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!