I had always loved French, studied it throughout school, but I had never left the country - until I signed up with API.
Before I departed, they sent me a DETAILED information packet with travel info and advice, and specific instructions on how to navigate Charles de Gaulle Airport once I landed - which was indescribably helpful. Once I landed, I followed their directions straight to the gate where the API representative was waiting with a great big sign. She greeted all of us as we arrived and began answering questions from the first moment. We were off on the right foot.
API gave me the option of arranging me an apartment, living in their student dorms, or arranging me a homestay - I chose the latter. They placed me with a kind older woman who had lots of experience hosting foreign students - she had done it many times, and it showed. The apartment was clean, inviting, and she was a wonderful host, truly more like a mother-away-from-home. The neighborhood was perhaps not the BEST, but she and API gave me plenty of advice on how to stay safe, and I had no problems.
My courses at the Sorbonne were challenging, but rewarding, and my French absolutely skyrocketed. I went from a mumbling, unsure kid to a regular local. I was amazed at myself. My professors were no-nonsense, but nurturing, helpful, and good at their jobs.
API itself hosted sessions at their HQ in the heart of Paris, and it became a sort of central meeting-and-hangout place for us students. API led classes on Parisian etiquette, how to navigate the public transport, places to avoid, things to see, and cultural examinations of things we had noticed. They really went the extra mile to make sure we were not just students - that we felt like we LIVED there. It was the truest definition of immersion. I'm so grateful for it, even more than my classes themselves.
The API staff were the best I have ever encountered in Int'l Education. The administrative staff solved any problem we came to them with, cheerfully and quickly. The guides that led the excursions were fun-loving and energetic, but professional and focused as well. You could tell that THEY were thrilled to show us these things.
I cannot say enough about this API program. It is a huge investment of trust in a company to give them thousands of dollars, hop on a plane to the other side of the world, and hope that the company is everything it claims to be. API really is everything they claim to be. From the moment I got off the plane, to the moment months later when I got back on it, they took care of me every step of the way, and made sure that I had all the tools I needed to get everything out of the experience that I could.
Thanks to API, I now love to travel. I'm now not scared to explore the unknown. I've since been to other, faraway places, far more intimidating than Paris, France. But I never would have been able to, had API not absolutely knocked it out of the park on my first study abroad.
They are professionals, and they will show you the best sides of the world.