The Experience of a Lifetime July 10, 2016

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/04/2016 to 05/15/2016 with

University of Minnesota: Study Abroad in Montpellier, France

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much, Anything from the daily routines of my host family to the language itself, I learned to appreciate french food, culture, the language, and I learned im capable of so much more than I thought.

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.

The work was definitley easier at the university in Montpellier than it is at Brandeis, as there is not nearly as much homework outside of class. But, all the classes are taken in french, and therefore the language factor makes the classes themselves interesting and challenging.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Everyone in the office was so helpful, resourceful, kind, and funny. I would say they each made the transition to living and learning in France the easiest it could have been, and were there whenever I needed them. The only thing is that the office had weird hours sometimes and they were not open on weekends.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

If you are studying abroad, live in a home stay. I was so unsure about it before going abroad, and almost lived in an apartment. But, living in a home stay was the best decision I have ever made, and I would do it again the next chance I get. My host mom was so kind, my french improved so much, and I felt like Ii truly learned what it was like to live and be in the french culture.

* Food:

French food is unbelievable, and my host mom may have been the best cook in the world. 3 course meals every night, pastries on the streets, great lunches and not to expensive either! (Especially at the university). Overall, it's the thing I miss most.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living in a host family gave me the experience of the culture and the daily life of a french family for sure, and our program assistants were those at the local university, and with them we learned a lot about young french culture. But at the university you are separate from the french students and I found it hard to make french friends who weren't already involved with the Minnesota program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't ever need it, but I heard form people that did that the program helps you with finding doctors, taking you to them, and getting fully reimbursed for most visits.

* Safety:

Overall, Montpellier was so safe, and I always felt comfortable walking around the city with friends. The only thing is that it is a city, so I wouldn't suggest walking alone at night, even though it always feels pretty safe to me.

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

Montpellier was the perfect southern city, the people on my program were sweet and kind (and I will stay in touch with many of them). my host family was so accommodating and the amount I improved my french culture and language skills was kind of unbelievable. I chose Montpellier becasue it was a city a lot like Boston, and was less overwhelming than Paris, and less touristy as well.

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 think this really depends on how much you want to spend. I would say some people on my program were able to live on $200 a month, and others more like $500. I would say that it ranges, but that $200-$300 a month was usually good, with some extra if you plan on traveling around on weekends (do that, you wont regret it).

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $30/week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? live in a host family, you get breakfast and dinner, lunch on the weekends make a list of what you spend money on so you know how much you are spending USE CASH NOT A CREDIT CARD (its easier to see how much you spend) get the student discounts for local and country wide trains, it saves you so much in the long run

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

In all of our classes and with my host family, I would say I used exclusively french. But, in the office and with other students, we used mostly English. While that was fine with me, if I wasn't in a host family, I would not have improved my french nearly as much.

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? 106
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? live in a host family and practice with the program assistants

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
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people I met
  • My host family
  • The city
* What could be improved?
  • The amount of french spoken
  • The amount integration with french students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known a bit more about how much french really was spoken, and more about what was expected in terms of the language, as Brandeis did not tell me much before going. Regardless, If you want to go for a language and cultural experience, go to Montpellier, you will have the time of your life.

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.'