Commitment to French immersion pays off August 05, 2023

By (Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/27/2022 to 05/28/2023 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was so worthwhile! My French skills improved so much, I had very independent experiences, I was able to travel a lot within France/Europe, and I loved my host family.

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.

I think that the program can be more or less rigorous depending on the classes you pick and how much effort you decide to put in. The in-house resources and support at WIA are great, but some of the French university classes are hit-or-miss.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host family! They had some family emergencies and construction work during the year, but overall they were great and so helpful for my language skills improvement.

* Food:

I really enjoyed eating dinner with my host family. Cost of living at grocery stores, restaurants, etc. is generally less expensive than where I'm from in the US (California).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It's kind of hard to make friends with French peers, but I made efforts to speak in French all the time with French people and become close with my host family.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Aix is very safe. Our program made Marseille sound dangerous and advised caution especially at night, but honestly I didn't find it any worse than any major US city (obviously take safety measures you would in any big city and at night).

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

I got kind of bored with Aix because it's a small city and I was one of only two students to spend the whole year there, but then during the second semester I gained a newfound appreciation for it when new friends arrived for the second half of the year.


* 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 depends on your personal decisions. If you travel, you will end up spending a lot on that.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Carrefour is the cheapest grocery store chain, and there's a big one next to the Rossini. If you eat at the AMU dining halls (you can make an IZLY account and pay with your student ID through the app), this is much cheaper.


* 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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? FREN 212 (although I then also did the Bordeaux intensive during the summer right before WIA)
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • 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?
  • Language immersion
  • Support from WIA staff
  • Educational model (classes at WIA and the local university)
* What could be improved?
  • Preparation for French university system differences
  • Getting new computers for printing at the WIA center (they are so old they barely work)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The French university system is very different! Expect lecture-based courses, a lot of emphasis on student presentations, and little-to-no small assignments. Even literature courses are often graded on the basis of an in-class exam.

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!