Great Experience to Explore a New Culture Past Review

By (American/United States Studies/Civilization., Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/02/2014 to 05/15/2014 with

University of Minnesota: Study Abroad in Montpellier, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was my first time living more independently (I don't really include living in a dorm). I learned to be more independent and confident in myself and my abilities. I began to feel more comfortable with my French.

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 academics are much less difficult than at home. But the program staff are lovely and will be happy to provide you with any help you need.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff is great- kind, friendly, open, and helpful. You can drop by at any time to ask for help, or just chat.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was satisfied overall. Host families are great to help feel like you are a part of the local culture and to have a surrogate family as support. It can get a little tiring having to tell someone you'll be out late or having less privacy or ability to host friends at your house, but I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. I know my experience wouldn't have been as good if I was living in an apartment.

* Food:

Expensive, so it's great to have a host family cooking for you. But it's France, so of course it's all amazing.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

If you make the effort to go to and find events and explore new places in Montpellier, you'll feel a part of the city. I learned to love it!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had no experience with it.

* Safety:

Montpellier is pretty safe- just be wary walking alone at home at night.

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)

Money adds up without you even realizing it. Living in a host family I thought my only expenses would be transportation and lunch. But there are a lot of personal items, traveling, activities, etc. that add up quickly.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $35
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to keep tabs on what you buy. It helps week to week to figure out how much to allot to what, and where you could spend less.

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

Classes are all conducted in French, but the staff are very understanding about speaking English to clarify. Hanging out in the office pretty much only English was used.

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? 104, so about equivalent of 4 semesters
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? If you want to improve your French, you really have to go out and put in the effort to improve. Speak only French with the staff, try to do activities or events where you will converse with locals, do an internship, etc. It will improve some just by being immersed, but to really get to a higher level you have to work harder than that.

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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The city
  • The staff
  • The opportunities available (events, excursions, travel, places around the city, etc)
* What could be improved?
  • More opportunities to speak only French
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had taken more opportunities to speak in French in my classes in the US.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'