Direct enrollment wasn't worth it, but the in-program classes were okay Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/01/2018 to 12/19/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I did improve my french! Now I can understand most spoken and written french. Also I've improved my writing greatly. I can hold conversations with french people without much difficulty. I still have a long way to go with grammar but I'm happy to have made the progress. I think it was helpful and eye-opening. I was definitely humbled and learned to be more autonomous. Nothing good is accomplished without hard work! This program just wasn't a good fit for me and I think I would've been better off without the direct enrollment.

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.

AMU is unorganized and not very intellectually stimulating. That doesn't mean it's easy though. Don't be surprised if the professors are incredibly unhelpful. Classes are 3 to 4 hours long with the professor reading off their notes and, if you're lucky, a powerpoint. Students rarely ask questions and if you do, the professor might actually get annoyed at you for not understanding. Most classes have 3 tests that make up your grade. An in class essay that follows a strict methodology, a oral presentation, and a final exam. The inclass exams and final are 3-4 hours long. Make sure you can write something that's understandable to a French uni professor because a lot of them don't cut international students slack and see us as annoyances. You need to do well on those assignments because you only have 3 chances and professors don't do extra credit. Students look like they don't want to be there, the professors even more. If you have trouble, you can work with the program tutor and she's amazing but be ready to have to work around her helping 10+ other students. The director are very cold if they don't like you and even if they do, they can be very dismissive. DO NOT do this program if your French isn't advanced enough to do direct enrollment. If you can't write a decent 3 page essay in French with minimal grammatical errors without outside help, than don't do this program. This isn't a program where you learn grammar or sentence structure if you have trouble with that. You have to be a strong B2/C1 at least coming in to make sure you don't stress out too much during what should be a decently pleasant experience. But if you're good at French, than you'll be fine.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They're alright if they like you but mean if they don't. During my semester, they forgot to tell students about important deadlines for applying for classes at Science Po that we wouldn't have known about and acted as if it was our faults for not knowing the French system. If you have any mental health problems or concerns about the program, get ready for them to brush you off and say "well that's the system, what can you do?". Yes, that's true but talking to them when I was struggling with getting used to classes or trying to pass my university classes made me feel like I was completely alone and crazy for being stressed. But again if you don't have any troubles with classes or them, you'll be fine.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I felt uncomfortable most of the time with my host family. They were nice but we had little altercations during the semester that showed I should have chosen to live alone.

* Food:

Depends on your host family. But overall don't expect spices. I lost 10 pounds during the semester. The restaurants in town are good though.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

French students have already made their group of friends so it's hard to break into one. They're not at all interested in you being from another country. But I went to club events and met some cool people I hanged out with during the semester and still talk to now.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Students aren't covered by the country's social security while studying. If you go to the doctor you have to pay out of pocket and hope you insurance reimburses you. In general healthcare is much cheaper than in the states. There is a therapist the program works with but she charges a lot of money out of pocket if your insurance don't pay for it. She's kind of helpful but I didn't feel any better after talking to her.

* Safety:

Never felt unsafe in Aix. It's a small city and it's middle/ upper middle class.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I wasn't an advanced enough level of French when I began and struggled to catch up. If I knew more about the uni system, I would have chosen a program that had more in-house (in-program) classes. I absolutely hated my experience at AMU. I dreaded going to class everyday because nothing was interesting. I lost weight from not eating enough and cried for basically 2 weeks straight when I was having academic problems even when I was working with the program tutor and studying everyday. I couldn't really enjoy the social aspect of the program because I was almost constantly stressed.


* 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)

4 - You can easily spend less than $50 euros a week if you eat with your host family every day and eat at the uni restaurant for lunch (3 euros for a whole meal. The program gives a stipend every month.


* 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

You can't speak english at the program house. Great for helping us practice the language.

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
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Study your grammar before you start the program and continue religiously during.

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
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 other students in the program
  • The weather
* What could be improved?
  • AMU's organization
  • Mental health support
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How the distant the professors are. How the grades are based on 3 assignments (or just 1 in some other classes) How small Aix really is. There isn't much to do but you can go to Marseille, which is half an hour by bus, to see more.