Thriving with the Mistral Past Review

By (Grinnell 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 how to be a bit more independent and my French skills improved a lot.

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 classes were overall easier than typical classes at my home institution, but the language and structure differences made them more challenging

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living with a host family, combined with the size of the university and the close-knit nature of our group made it difficult to socialize with other students, but the host family experience definitely helped with cultural integration.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?


* Safety:

I felt very safe in Aix and didn't even feel uneasy walking home alone at night. My best safety advice would be to avoid Parc Jourdan at night or in the evening and use general common sense like you would in any city.

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

Out of all the French programs my school typically sends students to, this one was the best. I liked the academics and the other students in the group.


* 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)

Food and transportation were very easy to pay for. The cultural stipend was very helpful, especially since many museums are already free or reduced for students. I spent the most money on trips outside of France and hotel/AirBnB costs.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Roughly 40-50 euros
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't eat out every day; buy groceries or snacks at the beginning of the week to have during lunch. Plan your trips early (ideally within the first month or two) so you don't have to pay too much for hostels or airfare.


* 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
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Speak to your classmates in French, watch TV with your host family, read books and the news in French, write down new words, ask questions about the language to native speakers

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The academics
  • The city of Aix
  • The other students
* What could be improved?
  • The extracurricular options
  • The exam schedule/communication with host families about when the program actually ends
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? While staying with a host family is great from a cultural and language standpoint, you don't get the typical student experience of living on your own and being able to stay out late or have spontaneous group dinners and things like that. If your host family lives far away, it becomes even harder.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!