An open door to explore the world and yourself June 08, 2017

By (Truman State University) - abroad from 01/20/2017 to 05/14/2017 with

Truman State University / CCIS: Aix-en-Provence - Study Abroad at Institute for American Universities (IAU)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Other than practical information I gained a better sense of self and independence. I became a more well-rounded person as a result of my exposure to a different perspective.

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.

For me the classes I took were creative writing and French courses with a specific topic (films/food) and while IAU offers much more rigorous courses all mine weren't as intense. The only problem I had was my limited French.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall good but they weren't the best at keeping everyone up to date on important events like graduation. Everyone was helpful and kind.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

While not everyone had a good time, my host family suited me splendidly. IAU does an overall good job of matching students up with families throughout Aix and even though I was the first student for my family I still felt included and respected.

* Food:

I'm not a picky eater and will eagerly try anything new. IAU didn't serve lunch but there were plenty of lunch spots within walking distance. At least once a week the students had to go out to eat for dinner due to host families only being obligated to feed their host students six times a week. However, this isn't a problem if you have friends even if the restaurants in Aix are a bit expensive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I'm not really the person who goes out and tries to mingle with strangers so personally I didn't get as intergrated as I could of. IAU offers plenty of options with integrating into the Aix community but I didn't take advantage of it as much as I could.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never got sick so luckily I never needed to find a doctor. IAU does have a health and wellness center for psychological health issues but in terms of physical health the teachers and administrators were more than willing to set up appointments with the french doctors for the students. However, I wasn't aware of this because of IAU letting us know but I heard this from word of mouth.

* Safety:

I never had any problems and I can't recall anything bad happening to any of my classmates. IAU made sure to make us aware of the area and our surroundings at all times.

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

As far as studying abroad options go in France, most of the programs offered throughout the county are business related, which doesn't tailor to my English major inclinations. However, because IAU is a liberal arts college I was able to find a program that fit with what I'm majoring in and what I enjoy learning. Also, the location is unique and accessible to many other great cities and countries. The only issues I had were some of the students but this isn't IAU's fault.

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)

IAU didn't have a student budget nor stipend as far as a could tell

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $75
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't spend all your money on alcohol even if you're legal and it's fun because towards the end money becomes tight for everyone.

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

They insisted on only speaking french in some buildings and most of the classes were completely in french.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French Composition/Conversation
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? The french tend to speak English even if you're trying your hardest to form a coherent french sentence, so instead of falling back on your native tongue try to continue speaking french. Overall, avoid using English as a readily accessible crutch.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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
  • Excursions
  • Margaux Hofstedt (teaches the cross-culture gastronomy class)
* What could be improved?
  • Better transmission of information
  • Some teachers aren't engaging enough
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The extent of my comprehension of French before I enrolled in classes where I was in over my head initially.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.