I loved my experience with API Grenoble - I learned French, I made lifelong friends, and I experienced something I will never forget. I recommend studying abroad to just about everyone now, because it had such a positive impact on my college career. If I could, I would certainly do it all over again.
The residential staff was fantastic; for the week of orientation in Paris, I got to know the other people on my program because of the fantastic cultural activities we participated in, like visiting the top of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. We also had ample free time to get to know each other, so I didn't feel like I was in a summer camp, constantly supervised. Once we got to Grenoble, the residential staff helped us with everything like reimbursing us for taxi money, making doctor's appointments if we were sick, and counseling us if we had any personal problems. Their office really was a home away from home.
My host family was a fabulous experience - API somehow matched me with the perfect host family for my wants and needs. In my house, I was free to come and go as I wished, but at the same time, I had dinner with my family every night (fantastic home cooked traditional French dishes) and my host mother would ask me what I did everyday, just like my actual mother would. When I got sick, my host mom drove me to doctor's appointments and brought my dinner down to me in my room, which was very considerate, considering I wasn't her actual child.
The academics were the only thing lacking in this program. My grammar teacher was retiring the next year, and perhaps that's why it was somewhat lackluster, but whenever we were assigned homework, it wasn't a necessity that we have it done the next day, if at all. I learned French because of the constant exposure to it everyday, not because of what I learned in school (However, I'm sure that helped.). The electives were a bit more rigorous, but not by much. The point is, I got what I wanted: a carefree semester to travel around Europe, because I had enough academic freedom to do so.
The Grenoble night life was very lively and frankly, I loved it. Everything started Wednesday night and ended Friday night, which was fine by me. Everyone downtown was very nice and helpful, and I always had an interesting conversation with someone new every time I went out. It was a great experience! I felt safe because I had a group of people I went out with, as well as people that lived close to me that could walk me home if I felt like I needed it (which was rare). The transportation system (tram + bus) was very reliable, and I used it often- no complaints there. They closed at 2am (we could always take a taxi), but I was close enough that walking back didn't bother me if I needed to.
If given the chance, I would definitely study abroad again. In fact, I'm about to live in Paris for a year for my graduate studies and I couldn't be more excited to plunge myself into French culture again. And it all started with API!