a breath of fresh air August 07, 2023

By (Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences: Computer Science Concentration, Wellesley College) - abroad from 01/07/2023 to 05/20/2023 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Academically, I learned a lot about linguistics in French and the varieties of French, which was pretty interesting. I also was able to learn more of the colloquial French expressions, which were definitely more useful in talking in French than the literary analysis I was used to doing for my usual French classes. I was also able to travel around a lot and I gained a lot of new experiences in that way.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes themselves (both in the WIA program and at the local university, AMU) were relatively easy, especially compared to the workload and rigor in Wellesley classes. The most difficult parts academically had less to do with the course material and more with the language.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, I didn't have any issues with the administration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in the student housing near the center of the city, so location-wise it was very convenient - the cheaper grocery store (Carrefour) was just across the street, and if you walk a little bit farther, you reach the centre-ville, where all the cafes, restaurants, shops, and markets are located. The bus station with the lines that go to the TGV station and the airport is also only a few minutes' walk away. The room itself is a studio apartment with a small kitchenette and a personal bathroom with a shower. The space can be a bit tight and narrow since everything is basically arrayed in a straight line, but with a little rearranging of the furniture, it feels less claustrophobic. I also lived on a higher floor with the window facing the courtyard, so it was a pretty nice view and there usually wasn't much noise. A lot of the housing and kitchen supplies are already provided, and the minifridge is relatively spacious, with a small freezer space. During my time there, I had some issues with the lighting and the shower leaking, but otherwise, nothing major.

* Food:

I did not live with a host family, so I prepared the majority of my meals myself. Getting groceries was pretty easy and relatively affordable (especially compared to American prices). The kitchenette was pretty small (just two stovetops and one microwave) but it was enough for most basic meals. Sometimes I would also get lunch from the university restaurant, which was very cheap but pretty good quality for the price. There's also a bunch of restaurants and cafes around that serve good food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since I didn't live with a host family, I didn't really get to know any locals very well, because it was also pretty hard to befriend the local French students, though I was able to talk to other students from America, other parts of Europe, and Algeria. I still tried to explore the town and the local area as much as I could, so I feel like I still kind of got the local vibe.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any health issues during the program. On our arrival, we all received a couple boxes of COVID rapid tests in case we needed them, but that was basically it.

* Safety:

I felt that it was for the large part very safe in Aix. I have walked around the streets very late at night, including travelling from the train/bus stations, and never encountered any issues or felt unsafe. One time I accidentally left my bag somewhere on the university campus, but it was returned to the university office untouched. The only time that I felt uncomfortable in Aix was when I was travelling with a friend and we were getting on the bus from Aix to Marseille when a random man who was already seated in the bus started yelling at us in a very butchered mix of different East Asian languages.

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

This is the only French language immersion study abroad program Wellesley offers, and although there may be aspects that were not the most ideal, I still had a lot of fun in Aix. It's a great place and it felt like a break from the academic rigor and stress of Wellesley while simultaneously being able to learn some interesting things.


* 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)

When I wasn't eating out or travelling (which were the bulk of my expenses), most things were pretty affordable.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Use cash as much as possible, because conversion rates can fluctuate during the time abroad. If you do need to use card, definitely try to get a credit card without foreign transaction fees before you go abroad.


* 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

We were reminded often to only use French to communicate when we were on program-coordinated trips and within the WIA Center.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? FREN 319
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? Talk to people! Watch movies, listen to podcasts, read articles, etc. in French.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* 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
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 city
  • program-sponsored trips/outings
  • more chill vibes
* What could be improved?
  • opportunities to interact with local French people
  • more preparation for finals at the local university
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The differences in the French university system compared to the American one.

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!