Logo_JYF in Paris_Since 1948_Sweet Briar College

Sweet Briar College-JYF in Paris


The JYF program offers an advanced and immersive learning experience in Paris for qualified students from American colleges and universities. Through direct enrollment in Paris universities and access to courses in almost any major, JYF students benefit from a high quality academic program to suit their academic and language goals. Integration in French family life, internships, supportive advising and guided reflection help to deepen cultural immersion and language practice and allow for exploration of all facets of French life and culture. Our affordable program fee and generous scholarships make it possible for any qualified student to experience “la vie à la parisienne” for a semester or academic year.



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Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my time in Paris. I lived with an incredibly kind and gracious host family. They became like a second set of parents to me and would cook the most amazing meals for me! I also made friends that will last a lifetime! We planned trips together and the program was always very accommodating of our travels by ensuring that Fridays were always free so that we could travel. The program was always there for me when I needed them! They helped me out with tutoring for economics courses that I took at one of the public French universities. The courses that I took with the program were also super great! They were very educational while keeping in mind that academics wasn't necessarily 100% our focus during our time abroad and were conscious about the time required to do the work assigned.
I had such a great time and recommend this program to anyone and everyone!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I had rabbit and quail with my host parents! And the funny part is that I didn't even know that I was eating that at the time because I didn't recognize the names in French and had to go google the words after dinner!
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Mary Kate
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved all my classes in this program, I got so much better at French through my classes and talking to my host family. The program also organized two really fun excursions to two different parts of France. I loved the classes I took, and the fact that one of them was at a Parisian University. One of them was also a walking tour of Paris and every week we went to a new place in the city to learn and explore. I also got the opportunity to volunteer teaching English at an elementary school near me apartment which was a great opportunity. All in all this was an amazing opportunity and I loved my whole experience from my friends to my teachers to my host family! I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to learn more about Paris and France and get better at French.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would bring my lunch to school to save money! I would also try to speak more French with my peers.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I was told my year abroad in Paris would be stressful. My mother, a former JYF student, warned of the difficulties getting by in a second language, adjusting to cultural differences, and maintaining hyper vigilance of my safety in a foreign city. She also extolled this program, asserting that it was a year of immense personal growth and unparalleled immersion into the French culture. Looking back, I can agree with the second part of her stance. I feel that students on this program receive so much academic and personal support from JYF's staff, host families, professors, and other students, that stress was the lowest it could possibly be while moving to a new country. JYF's staff was always ready to help students book doctor's appointments, set up a French bank account, communicate with our French university, and resolve pretty much any conflict that could worry a student abroad. Additionally, I found Paris to be an incredibly secure and easily navigated city. I reveled in the independence the city's metro brought me, for which JYF helped students buy a yearlong unlimited pass. Sweet Briar provides safety nets that ensure comfort but do not eradicate the need to learn self-sufficiency in a group of 20 year olds living in a foreign country. The classes taught at Sweet Briar were truly once in a lifetime opportunities, providing insights into French culture through architecture, art, immigration, and theatre. These courses were also great ways to explore the city. For my art history class, we spent an hour and a half in the Louvre or Musée d'Orsay each week, surrounded by famous paintings while our professor gave detailed histories on literally any work you could ask him about. A course on Paris's history through its monuments took us through a new neighborhood each week, and we were able to see period styles, monarchies, and revolutions come to life as our professor informed us on the riveting stories each site had to offer. After classes at JYF's office, I would walk 5 minutes to the Jardin du Luxembourg and picnic or stroll around the Latin Quarter. In the evenings, I came home to delicious four course meals with my host family and we discussed, theorized and debated a range of subjects at the dinner table, providing a quintessential French experience. Weekend excursions with Sweet Briar provided an itinerary packed with guided tours, exquisite meals, gorgeous views, and visits to remote sites that would be difficult for a student tourist to get to on their own. My personal favorite was a weekend we spent in the south of France. One afternoon we took our chartered bus to the Van Gogh museum, a former mental hospital where the artist lived, and painted Starry Night, in the countryside near Arles. This is one unforgettable experience from my year abroad with Sweet Briar. For anyone wanting an immersive cultural experience full of unique opportunities for study abroad, this is the best program I could imagine.

What would you improve about this program?
I can't think of any improvements.
Kevin Medansky
Yes, I recommend this program

The number one aspect of my semester abroad with Sweet Briar College in Paris that will always stay with me was the endless support that every student received. There's an on-site staff of four people, while they have more professors taking care of all of the classes, for a grand total of about 20 students each semester. This meant that whenever I needed anything at all, there was no wait-time for getting help. The program partially focuses on signing students up for courses at a local university in Paris--for me, it was the Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3--but they don't just leave students hanging. We each had a top-notch advising session, where we looked at all of the classes offered and heard feedback from previous students about some of the available options. Then, they either registered us for the classes from their own office, or they walked us directly to see each of the departments' secretaries, to guarantee that we would be registered for our courses, and that all would be well. A few weeks into the semester, this initial support was dovetailed both with lengthy meetings about our academics, and how we feel overall about the university at which we take classes, and about our host families. With the goal of providing every student a built-in opportunity to practice French, each student was guaranteed a host family, and such housing was strongly recommended by everyone in the program. And yet, they didn't just assign us to host families and move onto the next thing. They asked us multiple times throughout the semester about how our relationships with the host families were developing, asking pinpointed questions that demonstrated both how much they were listening to us about the subject, but about how much they genuinely cared about our stay in France. They educated us about culture shock in ways most other programs, and most people at my home university, never really do, and they also provided students with free therapy, for even more individual and personal support. Throughout the semester, some of the in-house professors served as tutors both for the Sweet Briar classes and the ones at the various Paris universities, so each week, I received free tutoring for as long as I wanted, all throughout the semester. The group also engaged in a few paid-for excursions, including one to Lille and another throughout Provence, which included high quality housing, three-course meals, and all of the planning performed by someone else--so that all of the students could relax on these miniature vacations! Overall, though, throughout the semester, at any moment of need, from preparing for coursework, to practicing for an improvised speech competition at the local university, the staff was consistently there to help us out, and do whatever they could to make our stay a positive one.

What would you improve about this program?
I think there were some issues with the WiFi in the office, but nothing too major!
Read my full story
Yes, I recommend this program

My semester abroad could have not gone smoother.
I went abroad for the cultural immersion and JYF gave me just that. I was nervous to be immersed, especially since I started taking French only three semesters before (Fall sophomore year), but JYF supported me in every way they could. All my classes were in French and I had to speak French with my host family (since they did not speak English). Having 6 meals/week with my host family was perfect for me; it forced me to speak and practice my French very often. JYF paired me with the perfect host family, a family that I will always stay in touch with. The classes were not necessarily difficult, but I did not go abroad to be challenged academically; I had that at Williams College and I wanted to focus on language and cultural immersion, which as I said above, worked. I wished that my colleagues spoke more French to each other, but that is on the students who attend the program, not the program itself.
The office is there to support you, so if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask! From the summer before I went abroad, the office was super helpful on helping me out with questions and the application. While abroad, they helped me navigate the university system and checked in with me about my host family. They even helped me find an internship here in Paris!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

Initially, I chose the program because of the lack of other options, given my academic program over at Haverford. As a French and Francophone Studies major, I really could have studied with IES in either Nantes or Paris or with Sweet Briar. Honestly, I'm a pretty fast decision maker, and I saw that the Sweet Briar program both had more meals included and a guaranteed host family, so I just chose it like that! The way they'd spoken about their months abroad in Paris--their joy was contagious, and I couldn't resist trying out a semester with Sweet Briar for myself.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

It's amazing, I am normally incredibly independent, and I'm much more comfortable going off on my own and doing what I'm interested in. And, at the same time, as I reflect on my experience with Sweet Briar in Paris, I can't help but revel in the nostalgia of the staff's incredible support throughout the entire semester. I genuinely believe I learned more in that class than any other one I've taken in my entire life. What an amazing professor, Mme Mellado!).

So, a few days after my arrival in Paris, the program director met with me for about an hour, as we leafed through the brochures for every department at the Sorbonne Nouvelle I was even remotely interested in, and we developed a plan for all of my courses throughout the semester. Prior to studying abroad in Paris, I had heard horror stories from friends who had studied abroad in Paris with other programs, and when they wanted to take courses at a Paris university, they were just given a big, out-of-date binder with every class available, and basically told to fend for themselves.

These experiences teaching French high school students gave me such a greater insight into the educational systems that brought up all the students whom I would then be taking classes with at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, and made me all the more appreciative to be in Paris. And, they happened to beef up my CV a little bit, as well! That same staff member also checked in regularly with all the students about our individual host families, and was a great person just to talk to throughout the semester. If anything went wrong, they could handle it. They could provide a free, English-speaking therapy service, when culture shock took its toll. But, most importantly, they were there to help us through any difficult moments and celebrate our successes, all throughout the semester!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Spend time with French people! It was tough for me to jump into a new city for a whole semester, where I didn't know anyone other than a couple students from Haverford, but friends come quickly! All the students in my program were really kind and fun to spend time with, which made the initial transition to such a new place much easier. I definitely benefited from a lot of their patients, especially at first, when they'd sometimes gently correct my accord with certain adjectives, or my pronunciation of other words.

Overall, though, a task that seemed incredibly daunting at first--talking in a second language with a native speaker of that language for hours on end--rapidly developed into a deeply gratifying one. We went on picnics together, we went out for drinks together, we shared fun and exciting moments together! And, there is nothing like sharing a picnic on a warm night in May with close friends, all while you don't even realize you're speaking a second language--it's just that automatic. Not to mention, one of my friends found me a job with her theatre company at a *huge* theatre festival in Avignon for the summer my semester abroad, which means that, thanks to my incredible friends, my abroad experience doesn't have to end so fast!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I'm not sure if I can speak for the average Sweet Briar student, just because we all pursued such unique adventures, but I can at least speak out of my own experience:

From Monday to Thursday, I would have all of my classes. The program director and I guaranteed that I wouldn't have any Friday classes so that if I ever wanted to travel one weekend, I wouldn't be so encumbered by a Friday afternoon class that would limit my time in a different city. I'll take the sacrifice. After everything finished off, I'd take the metro back to my host family's apartment in the 11th district of Paris (what we like to call "boboland," since it's a pretty gentrified, hipster-filled area). We'd share dinner, catch up about what everyone had been doing, and just generally talk for a while.

Throughout many weekends, the travel bug didn't hit me too hard, so I visited a few different cities, especially several ones with the Sweet Briar program, but I was quite content to stay in Paris most of the time. I'd often see 2-3 plays each weekend with friends from my university classes, since student tickets purchased at the Sorbonne Nouvelle ticket office normally cost around $10-12 for some of the best seats in every theatre. Otherwise, I'd catch up on work, relax, eat some delicious French foods, go on picnics, see movies, visit museums (all for free, thanks to the "Art History" student ID that Sweet Briar gave us!), and go on adventures throughout the city. There was always a lot to do, living in the best city in the world.

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 think that my biggest fear related to studying abroad was about whether I'd be able to make French friends over the course of the semester. I'd been in France beforehand, but I mostly congregated with other American students, since it was much easier just to speak in English and not really branch out much. It took a lot of discipline--and nervousness--to actually reach out to a bunch of the students in my classes. But, I realized nearly immediately that these worries were pretty much all for naught.Whereas I had been so worried about what they would think when I wouldn't say everything exactly correctly, they thought my French was adorable, and they were more than happy to help me out when need be.

What is the one place you would recommend visiting in Paris?

The Rue Mouffetard is a small road in the middle of the 5th district of Paris, surrounded by large and busy streets, that may be the cutest in the entire city. It's filled with almost-tourist restaurants, with fixed prices for three-course meals, and fancy wine, cheese, and chocolate stores, but I've never seen any American tourists over there. This street has a lot of heart, too. I would highly recommend visiting the Théâtre Mouffetard, the most famous marionette theatre in the country, and going out for dinner afterwards at La Fontaine de la Mouffe, where the escargots and the chocolate fondue are to die for. The owner, Angélique, is one of the sweetest people I met in my life. For the best crêpes au nutella in Paris, you can walk over to Au P'tit Grec for an unexpectedly delicious gastronomic masterpiece. You'll thank me later.

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