An amazing semester January 30, 2020

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/24/2019 to 12/20/2019 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that I was able to feel comfortable living in a new country, and that I am capable of balancing academic, social, and personal responsibilities.

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.

The structure of university courses is different from what US students might expect - grades are often entirely based on one or two exams.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The director was extremely helpful, and provided students with ressources that we did not even know we would need. She anticipated many of our questions, and helped with navigating the complex administrative systems at both universities.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Due to food allergies, I lived in the student apartments. The meal/living stipend was more than enough to cover expenses, and dishes/linens were provided by the program. I would recommend staying with a host family if you are able for the more immersive experience, but the apartments are a nice alternative. Some of the closest friends that I made in the program were the other students living in the building.

* Food:

Excellent quality food, very affordable both in grocery stores and at boulangeries/cafes/restaurants. Allergy labels/warnings are more clear in France than in the US.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While there were opportunities to become more fully integrated with the local culture (home stay, getting to know French classmates...), I did not take full advantage of those opportunities to get to know Aix locals. Even so, I did feel fairly integrated in the town and at the universities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

If I would do it all over again, I would have done the full year, not just the semester.


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $0
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Prepare your own food and try out the boulangeries/cafes in the centre-ville and near the AMU campus, which often have good lunch deals in the 5-10€ range.


* 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

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? 300 level French class.
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? Read books / the news in French, switch your phone/laptop/email to French before you leave. If you won't be staying with a host family, find other ways to speak/practice French outside of academic settings.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A
* 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?
  • Meeting other program students
  • Taking classes with French students
* What could be improved?
  • Assistance with finding French student organizations
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? To be flexible and patient with course selection - search for courses with multiple modes of evaluation (exams, papers, quizzes). I wish that I had been more outgoing and less afraid to introduce myself to French students.