Institute for Field Education

Program Reviews

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Lily
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The best professional, educational and personal experience you could ask for

If I could have done IFE for every semester of university I would have! The experience challenged me intellectually, personally, and, of course, linguistically. But this challenge coupled with the incredible support of the IFE staff created a learning environment that allowed me to grow and achieve things I never thought I was capable of.

At the beginning of the semester, I was hesitant to participate in class because I didn't feel completely secure in my French language skills, and by the end of the semester not only did I overcome this fear, but I also delivered an entire walking tour in French to my peers and supervisors. The IFE team encouraged me to take on this challenge, and I'm so grateful that they did. It's an experience that I often look back on when I face public speaking in my academic and work life. I always think: if I can give an almost 2 hour-long tour in French, I can definitely nail this 30 minute PowerPoint in English!

IFE is not your traditional study abroad program, but that's what I loved the most about it. It's something completely unique that allows you to improve your second language, gain real-world experience, and learn more about yourself and your capabilities. If you want to embody the cliché of "abroad changed my life," then IFE is 100% the program for you!

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Clare
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-Changing Experience

IFE was hands down the best decision I made while in college. The program challenges and cultivates your language skills while allowing you to pursue your own academic interests. This was also the first internship I held and being supported by the program while having my first, real professional work experience was a great environment to be in. IFE pushes you to be a better student and citizen of the world.

I participated in the Paris field study program in 2017 and would gladly do it again! Being able to experience not only a schooling opportunity in another country and language, but a research project and internship at the same time really forced us to be proactive and organized students. This program enabled me to become more confident in my French skills and certainly showed when I returned to my home university in the fall. IFE also changed my perspective on how I see the world and view myself as a citizen. It sounds cliche or trite, but this program truly changed my life and I am so thankful to the staff for creating such a wonderful, unique experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The program may seem intimidating, even to those of us who studied the language for many years before coming to IFE, but to get the most out of this semester, you must embrace your discomfort and know that you are being supported every step of the way. Recognize the uniqueness of the opportunity and fully immerse yourself in the culture and experience. Your life will be all the better for it.
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Andrew
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A springboard, even for those in the sciences

IFE was a terrific experience. Its immersive French environment and organized cultural activities massively improved my language skills and encouraged me to push outside my comfort zone. Further, the coursework on French cultural and historical topics oriented me to France and Paris, which gave me a greater appreciation of where I was living. Finally, the internship experience was very related to medicine, my interest, and the connections I formed there led to a Fulbright research grant two years later at the same lab of my original internship. It's worth adding that 2 other students from that same IFE class of 24 received Fulbright FLTA awards.

IFE challenges students and promoted more personal, linguistic, and professional growth than I could have ever expected. The support network is very strong and the experience is very well tailored to each individual student. The experience I had with IFE and the future consequences of receiving a Fulbright research grant and further enlarging my international experience was invaluable to my professional goals in the medical field. You'd be hard-pressed to find an experience abroad that promotes such personal, linguistic, and professional growth in just one semester as IFE.

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Jack
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible personal, academic, and professional transformation in Strasbourg, France

IFE is such a unique, rewarding study abroad program because it provides a holistic space and framework for you to grow as a student, as a young professional, and as a person.

As a student, the courses they give are incredibly interesting and valuable, and are all taught by great professors. By the end of the course period, we all felt very close to our professors, and this just enhanced the whole classroom experience.

As for the professional side, I can only say my experience was incredibly valuable and rewarding. The best part about IFE is their local connections and network, which means they can provide a tailored internship location to each student according to their background, interests, and studies. What I most enjoyed about this, too, is that each night when we ate dinner with each other, everyone could share what they were working on. It was all so varied and diverse, and these discussions added to the overall cultural experience.

Finally, I grew as a person with IFE. The experience of living independently in France, going to classes, and doing an internship in French taught me so many life lessons and things about myself that I can't list all of them here.

The support IFE gives with their local directors is unparalleled, and I am a different person than I was when I boarded my plane before the semester. If I could relive my semester with IFE again, I would do so immediately.

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Jacob
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Outstanding program for high achieving undergraduates

This is an outstanding program for high achieving undergraduate students with a medium to high level of French. While the courses can be tough, passing them should not be an issue for upperclassmen. An internship program is included, so individual professional development either matches or exceeds your friends who did not study abroad. Furthermore, a vast support network is included through IFE that ensures student success. The entire network is incredibly kind and helpful and I encourage anybody to enroll.

Personally, I went to Brussels in Belgium, and the program coordinator there is very helpful and kind. The city itself has much to offer, both culturally and socially. I highly recommend checking out the Parc du Cinquantenaire on a nice warm weekend for some cool pictures and relaxing environment. I also recommend Matonge for some great African food and a cultural excursion. The beer in the city is great and cheap too.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have fun! Make friends! Don't be afraid to try something new.
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Jennifer
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone & Enjoying the Journey

I participated in the Paris Program of IFE and I can say that it definitely changed my life (I know it may sound cliché, but it's true)! I was a second-semester junior when I studied abroad and my level of French was not at the place where I could confidently strike up a conversation with anyone. I remember my first few days in Paris, before the program began, feeling completely lost and suffering immense culture shock that I didn't expect as I already knew another language. However, the IFE team always were/still is a safe haven for all their students, former and current.

When you come into the program, every thing you do is sort of up to you and what I mean by that is, you shape the way your experience will go. IFE will help, but you have to make the effort to be open with them. I know for me, I dealt with a heavy workload in juggling the classes along with my internship as I was involved in a demanding industry. It was stressful and I remember confronting those challenges on my own, but when I knew I needed more advice and help I went to Thomas and Julie. They were so kind and gave me so much support in navigating the balance between the classes and the internship. I could always message them and they would check-in with me, and it made such a great difference knowing that I had people I could go to when I felt conflicted or overwhelmed.

I would say one of the most memorable moments for me, beyond the internship and being able to make friendships that I cherish, was during one of our classes where we were preparing for our internships. Julie drew a diagram about our comfort zones, and how we would be having to push ourselves outside of the zones where everything is safe and familiar, to the third and fourth zone because that is where true growth and enjoyment will be experienced. It stuck with me because I had never done something like what the program offers of being independent and immersing yourself into a city and its language. IFE's classes do a great job in prepping you with knowledge on the politics, history, and culture of the country to be to gradually integrate yourself into the area. Outside of the classes and internship, you have so many opportunities to become part of the community. You can meet so many amazing folks from your housing choice, the activities planned by IFE, traveling around the city, going to local events or doing activities in Paris, eating at random little spots by yourself, and much more. I took this lesson with me as I pushed myself to speak in French when I was out and about. However, it taught me a lot about myself and I got to have some memorable experiences and growth out of those moments.

The experience I had with IFE and specifically, the Paris program is something I will always have high praises for because it made me realize more about myself through the classes, activities, internship, and friends I made through it all. I grew in ways I never expected, I became more vocal about my ideas and opinions (which was quite the shocker to all of us), confident, independent, resilient, and empathetic! It is a wild ride and it isn't always easy, but if you want an experience of getting integrated with your community and city, and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone then, IFE is one of the best programs to choose. The IFE team is one of the most compassionate, knowledgable, and open-minded group of people you will meet.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I encourage you to integrate yourself into the community that you live in. I would also suggest trying to be in your chosen location as much as possible. Your city will have a lot to offer and be an experience each day when you allow yourself to become part of group, through the activities and places it has to offer. Go to a dance class or attend local events that your location offers because you get to meet all the different faces and make new friends outside of your program and housing choice. Please don't just do the tourist stuff! IFE does an incredible job in letting you know about the activities that go on in the area and providing you with a couple of opportunities where you don't have to do it all on your own.
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Mya
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Strasbourg was the Perfect Place for Me :)

I studied through the IFE Strasbourg program in the Fall of 2019. This was my very first experience abroad, and I honestly do not regret it. Being able to take courses (that covered my major requirements) and travel really opened my eyes to new experiences! Also my internship was based on my academic & career interests. I got to work with an amazing group of students and faculty both in IFE and my internship. My dissertation project was rewarded The Forum of Education Abroad Award of Academic Achievement Abroad.
It was hard at times but 100% worth it.

What was your funniest moment?
I got so caught up in my work and reading at my internship that I lost track of time and was locked inside the building for 3 hours! xD
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Emily
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Fully immersive, unforgettable semester!

I still reference my notes from the preparatory session!

I participated in the Strasbourg, France program in the spring of 2018, during which I stayed with a host family and interned at the National and University Library (la BNU). This experience gave me so much vocabulary and so much cultural insight that are absolutely necessary to any degree (major or minor too!) in French. I am currently a PhD candidate and a T.A. in French Studies, and I love sharing my study abroad stories with my students. In many ways, my semester in Strasbourg opened the door to graduate school.

Even if you're not earning a PhD in languages, the IFE program will make you a competitive candidate for any job. What employer would not be impressed by an international internship?

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
My first day in Strasbourg, I took the bus downtown. It was snowing and I was still jet lagged. Thinking I heard my stop called, I got off the bus, only to realize I had no idea where I was. I started walking in the direction of the bus. Getting colder and colder, more and more panicked, I called Tarek who walked me through the streets of Strasbourg over the phone, in French, until I made it to class.

I walked downtown pretty much every day after that incident. I became very familiar with the city during my walks!
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Katherine
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing, immersive program -- transformed my career path

IFE has several different locations, but I participated in the Strasbourg program. It began with a month of three courses – French history, culture, and foreign relations – taught in French by French professors. This was great practice for listening to and writing French, as well as understanding the typical French university course. During the same month, IFE provided us opportunities to further engage with Strasbourg through various outings, taking us to several museums, events with Strasbourgeois, European institutions, and nearby cities. The final element of the first month was “practical work,” time set aside each day for us to discuss in French with our site director the class material, recent outings, surprises in everyday Strasbourg life, and anything else we wanted to process. Small assignments accompanied practical work (an ethnographic exercise, an intercultural engagement packet), but the focus was discussion, allowing us to speak lots of French and share insights for quicker adjustment to Strasbourg.

After the preparatory month, which greatly increased my French proficiency and began orienting me to life in France, came the core of IFE — the internship and field research thesis. My internship was with the French organization AMSED which encourages cultural exchange through international programs, youth meetings, and support of isolated populations in Strasbourg. As AMSED intern, I became a key contributor to a fast-paced French work environment by creating marketing materials, translating, distributing information to the public, and aiding neighborhood organizations that offered after-school homework help and supervised playtime for local children. My research thesis concerned gender socialization in France, which I observed during the course of my internship duties.

Being in France enriched my education and life in many ways, most of them stemming from the dramatic increase in my French proficiency that IFE helped me to achieve. If I had not been able to so vastly increase my ability to communicate clearly in French, I would not have been able to form meaningful relationships with native French speakers and therefore better understand their culture, have been viewed by Strasbourgeois not as a tourist but as a resident leading to truer everyday interactions, nor become interested in elements of French culture such as music, literature, and television. For research, my French made it possible for me to talk with adults in their native language, leading to more accurate and properly nuanced findings. I became so attached to Strasbourg and its people that I applied for and won a fellowship in 2019 which enabled me to return to the city for the summer of 2019 and continue nurturing relationships that I started during my time with IFE, as well as conduct sociological research on representation of race and gender in tram stops advertisements. I used this data for my senior thesis in Sociology.

Immersion in French and France through IFE had practical applications, but it also fueled my love for language and desire to explore cultures, ultimately inspiring me to pursue an international career; I hope to one day work in diplomacy or for a multi-national company. In an effort to realize this goal, I applied for and won a Fulbright grant. IFE was instrumental in opening these doors by providing me with an immersive, culturally-focused, and rich experience in France. I would recommend this program without any reservation to students looking for an immersive experience in French language and culture.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
When you first arrive in France, don't worry if your French isn't perfect! I was not fluent when I arrived, but I would say I was close to fluent by the time I left. Don't speak English with your peers, and stick to replying in French even when staff at restaurants and such revert to English when they hear your accent. It will pay off, I promise.
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Arlin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Transformational Program for Language Majors

IFE was a program that without a doubt changed my life. As a French major, IFE allowed me to immerse myself in the French culture and language in a way that many other study abroad programs could not. IFE provided an exceptional academic experience, outstanding internships, opportunities for self-growth and valuable tools for inward and outward exploration. This program is rigorous and is to be taken seriously, but it's also a place to have fun and make friendships that will last a lifetime.
IFE is a transformational program for anyone who is willing to commit to it. It truly changed my life, so much so, that after an unforgettable experience in Paris in 2015, I joined the 2017 cohort in Strasbourg.
If you are passionate about the french language, culture and people, then IFE is the place for you.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
One of the more nerve racking moments was the first day of my francophone internship. I was nervous that I would have to exercise my french language skills in order to survive, and thrive! It was truly frightening at first, but then I learned the beauty of being able to make mistakes. I learned that I wasn't going to get any better at the language if I didn't practice it in this work environment with real french people. So, after really understanding that, I spoke more freely with my colleagues and co-workers. And when they didn't fully understand me I used it as a learning experience. (which many francophones were happy to help me navigate) By the end of my internship I was texting colleagues to meet up for lunch, asking my boss questions, and even debating political issues with colleagues during a post work drink.