Why did you choose this program?
The two absolute essentials that I required for a program were 1) I had to be able to take painting classes and 2) it had to be in Paris. These two things combined were relatively hard to come by, so when I stumbled upon IES Paris Studio Art, I knew it was a perfect match. I signed up for 2 painting studios, drawing studio, required French class, immigration in France, and French feminism. All of the classes were taught in French, and I was by no means fluent whatsoever, but everything was so accessible and here were so many students from all different levels, so it wasn’t totally daunting. I also really wanted to do a home stay and luckily IES offers one in this program. I lived with a local Parisian woman and one other IES student. It was the most gorgeous apartment with views of the Eiffel Tower from every window, and the woman who hosted me is literally one of my all time favorite humans. I highly highly recommend going on this program.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Through my home stay I was provided all of my breakfasts and three dinners a week, but I had to cook/buy the rest of my meals. The program provided me with an ID card (and fun tip, sign up for an art history course because you can get into museums for free if you have a student ID with Art History on it.) IES required that we had a working cellphone, so I had to purchase a SIM card at a local store. We also had to buy our own metro card every month. Also if you go to a public school, you automatically get $2,000 off the ticket price.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Get a job at least a semester ahead and SAVE YOUR MONEY. I worked the summer and the semester before my program started, and I don’t know what I would have done had I not. Paris is not cheap. There are inexpensive things to do, and often even free on certain days of the week, but eating out will cost you a pretty penny, and if you like shopping, then you definitely need to start stockpiling your money now. I cooked pretty much all of my meals that weren’t provided to me, and I only bought from thrift stores, so those are pretty easy ways at keeping costs down.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
So we had classes Monday-Thursday, but if you took classes outside of the IES center (like at the Sorbonne or the painting studio that I went to) then chances are you’d also have a class on Friday or on the weekend. I had a painting and a drawing studio on Saturday, but honestly it was such a lovely way to spend the day. Each class taught through IES is an hour and a half, with the exception of the phonetics class which i think was three hours. Once a month the program takes you on field trips outside of Paris, they’re optional but definitely worth it.
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 was so so scared that the language barrier would be so bad. I came into this program knowing enough French to carry me about 1 minute into a conversation, but that was literally it. And at first it was hard! It was hard constantly translating everything (all of the classes are taught in French, and my host mom didn't speak a lick of English) but after about a week or so, I noticed my French improving so much. I started thinking, dreaming, talking, and writing in French more than English just because of the immersive aspect of the program. By the end of my time in Paris, I wasn’t worried about if I was 100% correct, but more that I wanted to try and push myself to see what I could do. It was amazing.