IES Abroad in Paris offers courses at a variety of local universities, including an art school, a private Catholic school, and an international school. There are also opportunities for internships, and the professors at the center are from many nationalities. This inclusivity drew me to the program in a city that I already knew I loved from previous visits to friends.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I applied through my home university, who made sure that I completed all the required documents well before the national deadline. Each applicant had a fantastic program advisor, who worked from the U.S. with IES and was available by email and phone to answer any and all questions prior to departure.
At the center in Paris, the staff had a week-long orientation and organized all living situations through the program, which made it simple to get settled in unfamiliar surroundings.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
If you're ever feeling lonely while abroad, which can happen, don't feel guilty about it. Both local and friends from home, as well as the staff, are there for you to help make your experience wonderful. Don't hesitate to reach out to them or even alumni from your specified program and others!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Lucky for us, our weekends start on Friday! This makes it easier to take weekend trips to other cities to learn more about France as a country. Otherwise, classes end Monday - Thursday by 5 pm, so there is plenty of time afterward to get started on homework projects and to explore the city.
IES also posts bulletins of many international-student friendly events that occur every week such as the "club international des jeunes de Paris," and how to get involved, as well as optional day trips with the program each month.
If you take an internship, the class meets once a week and you are expected to complete ten hours per week at your job, which can take some time but can also link you to making connections with locals and more opportunities outside of the program itself.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I'm pretty shy, and already had a couple close friends that live in Paris, so I was mainly worried about not being able to get along easily with the other Americans in the program. Thankfully, everyone was just as concerned as I was, and I now have life-long friendships!
One of my favorite accomplishments, though, was learning the metro system just as well as any Parisian! Did you know that the lines are connected in such a way that you'll never need to transfer more than twice?
Did you feel at home in your host city?
Paris is a big city. If you have spent time in cities with a similar number of people, you'll know how unlikely it is to run into anyone you know by chance. However, I was showing a visiting friend of mine around one day and ran into my host parents, several people from my program, and one of my French friends, all in different parts of the city and all by complete chance! As busy as it is, Paris came to feel quite homey.