BEST semester of my life Past Review

By (French & Political Science, Wellesley College) for

Wellesley College: Aix-en-Provence - Wellesley-in-Aix

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
LOVED this program. I also feel like taking a step back from college in the US has really let me appreciate my school more.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Sciences Politiques Aix-en-Provence, Université de Provence Aix-Marseille I
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 workload is definitely manageable, but the French grading system is very different from the American grading system, and it might be difficult for some to adjust to receiving French grades. Students in the French public universities do not participate in class as much as students at Wellesley, so sometimes class could be boring (especially if you take a 4 hour lecture course where the professor just stands and talks at the class for 4 hours without asking questions or involving the students). However, I greatly enjoyed my course at Sciences Po, and would highly recommend a course in politics or economics to anyone interested in those areas of study. The professors are better, and the students more academically inclined.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Wellesley Centre in Aix-en-Provence provided a great place for students to study, use their computers, make meals and talk, and ask the director and assistants questions. The program size was perfect; large enough so that if you made plans with a smaller group of people, others wouldn't feel left out, and small enough that we could all share in many experiences together (dining out, exploring museums) without being an overwhelming group of foreigners.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

We could choose what to cook for ourselves everyday, and the open-air markets made food shopping cheap and fun. We also had enough money in our stipend to eat out often!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We took field trips to Normandy and Brittany where we stayed overnight in St. Malo, and we also took a tour around the Luberon and lunched at a fantastic restaurant in Gordes. We also took one group tour with the Office of Tourism.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

No vaccines necessary, no health issues. Aix-en-Provence felt safe.

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


* 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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget your weekend adventures if you're planning on traveling. We had a very generous stipend, but traveling to other countries or cities often becomes surprisingly expensive when you factor in costs of trains/planes/hostels!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? French 211 at Wellesley College
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced French in everday interactions, with French friends, all my professors, and often with my American friends. Most people in Aix know English but refuse or avoid speaking it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the freedom that came w/living in an apartment
  • the sense of family that our group developed
  • the enormous monthly stipend
* What could be improved?
  • the apartment check/cleaning system