A rollercoaster of abundant stress, great food, and greater French practice January 15, 2019

By (Drama, Theater, Theatre Arts, Brandeis University) - abroad from 09/01/2018 to 12/21/2018 with

Sweet Briar College: JYF in Paris

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a greater confidence in French speaking and listening, as well as general confidence and independence- though I mostly blame having to figure out the fickle metro system for the latter two. Definitely worthwhile.

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.

Plenty of very qualified and knowledgable professors.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Wonderful building with kind staff.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Absolutely loved my host home situation, the long questionnaire and the intense care of the woman in charge of housing made for finding a perfect fit!

* Food:

Paris has a lot of wonderful and delicious options, and JYF center is in a good place for food selection.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Not too much felt culturally different, the biggest obstacle for feeling integrated was the language barrier.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I sought mental health counselling and the nice part was I ended up being completely reimbursed for the costs as far as I'm aware, much nicer than the expenses here.

* Safety:

Listen to your program and the local updates for safety information, especially regarding Paris. I ended up there right when the Jilet Jaunes were picking up in intensity, so just ensure you are keeping up with those safety updates.

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

I enjoyed the program and the staff there a great deal. They all clearly care very deeply for the students in their care and have a passion for what they're doing.

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)

I had saved up quite a bit for this trip, but had I not I can see where it may be difficult if one hadn't prepared to explore all the options Paris has to offer.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Not every meal has to be had in a diner or cafe, if your host family isn't preparing certain meals, get some groceries that can last you more for a lot cheaper than eating out for every meal.

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

I still remember the hilarious running joke among the staff and students that when students were caught speaking English they earned a mean stink-eye from all the staff members- definitely kept us honest in terms of practicing!

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 104 here at Brandeis
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? Feel free to immerse yourself in French media even when away from an academic environment or when away from French speakers. I found a lot of my favourite Netflix shows had options for French audio and/or subtitles which actually help a lot with practicing comprehension, and didn't feel like work.

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
  • International Students
  • Other
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?
  • The staff/faculty
  • The class options
  • The opportunities to visit other parts of French in orientation
* What could be improved?
  • The local French universities sometimes randomly change their class times and locations in the first few weeks, but that's not in the program's control
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That is was possible to take an academic underload while abroad and that no one is expecting me to become fluent over the course of one semester.

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!