IES Abroad Nantes - French Immersion & Area Studies

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About

The IES Abroad Nantes Program has two important goals: to improve your written and verbal proficiency in French through language and area studies courses and teaching internships, and to introduce you to contemporary France and its role in the European Union. Founded in 1965, the program is small enough to welcome you into the community, yet large enough to allow for a variety of academic and extracurricular activities. We offer you the opportunity to integrate fully into French society and function completely in French, due to the program’s focus on full immersion and the fact that there are few Anglophones in Nantes.

This program enjoys a close relationship with the Université de Nantes. You have access to the school’s libraries, computer labs, cafeterias, and sports facilities, and are welcome to join student clubs and other social and sports organizations. You also have many opportunities for enrolling in university courses.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 46 reviews
  • Academics 8.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 31 - 45 of 46
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Taylor
9/10

Putting It Into Words - The Hard Part

Nantes is a beautiful city and I think it's a great place to study abroad if your goal is to improve your language skills. While people do speak English to you on occasion, I found it to be true far less in Nantes than in other areas of France. Living in a host family is a key part of this program. The opportunity to take classes at the local university with actual French students and professors is possible; however, many choose to take all their classes within the program. While I think their curriculum is very helpful in improving your academic French (reading literature and writing essays/research papers) it's hard to improve your conversational French when the majority of people in the building are other Americans who speak French. Speaking French in the school is a requirement in the building but when you're speaking to people who you share a first language with in another language you can get them to understand your meaning through direct translation. So I felt I made most of my improvement in this area with my host family. A lot of the host families have been hosting students for years so they're very understanding and great. The staff members are always open to helping with any problems or misunderstandings that may arise between the students and host families. Overall, I think the experience was incredible and the friendships I made their will last a lifetime. A couple weeks back in the United States and I already can't wait to visit Nantes again!

Yes, I recommend
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Carly
10/10

A supportive program with wonderful immersion opportunities

When I first started planning my semester in France, I was convinced that I wanted to study abroad in Paris because, well-- it's Paris! Looking back on my experience now, I could not be happier that I chose Nantes instead. I truly believe that I gained so much more from living in a smaller city where English is not commonly spoken than I would have in a more international city like Paris. While I did enjoy a weekend trip to Paris, returning to Nantes felt like coming home.

What really stands out in my mind about the IES Nantes program is the opportunity it presents for complete immersion in the French language. All students are placed in a homestay with a French family, and many of these families have been hosting American students for years. While living with a host family can be a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, the adjustment process is just another part of the experience and is well worth the linguistic and cultural benefits of being part of a French family. The post-dinner conversations I had with my host mother were some of the best learning experiences for me as far as improving my speaking skills and gaining a better understanding of French culture. She even made me a little book filled with my favorite recipes of hers when I left at the end of the semester so I can try to replicate her wonderful cooking!

The IES Nantes center also has a French-only policy. All of the classes are taught in French and students are required to speak French when in the building and on IES excursions. One of the reasons I chose to study in France was that I wanted to really focus on improving my language skills, so this aspect of the Nantes program was wonderful. Unfortunately, not all of the students were so eager to speak exclusively French, so by the end of the program, almost everyone was speaking a lot of English, which was a bit disappointing for me. That being said, there were always opportunities to practice French, whether at the university, with locals, or with a host family.

IES also does an amazing job of creating a sense of community among its students and staff. The directors were so supportive and helpful and because it's a relatively small program, it's easy to get to know the other American students. I met some of the most wonderful people and I truly felt at home in the IES center. I absolutely recommend this program to anyone looking to study in France!

Yes, I recommend
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Clara
10/10

Exactly what I was looking for

I chose IES Nantes because I was looking for a program with classes entirely in French, the option to enroll at the local university, homestays, and lots of extracurricular opportunities. I was not disappointed. All of the classes at the IES center in Nantes are taught in French by French professors, but they are used to teaching American students so the course structure and expectations somewhat more American. If you're looking for a challenge, it's easy to enroll in courses at the Université de Nantes. All IES Nantes students are housed in homestays, and I had a fantastic experience with my host family. We got really close, still keep in touch, and I'm looking forward to visiting them as soon as I can! Nantes also has a lot of opportunities to get involved in the community. I joined a couple of bands, but other students joined choirs, the Catholic student association, soccer clubs, etc. It was a fun, genuine way to meet other French students--and to work on my French! I had a great year and I'm really happy with my choice of program.

How can this program be improved?
When I chose this program, I was hoping that because it was so French-intensive it would attract other students who were really focused on learning the language. That turned out not to be true. The IES Nantes staff make a huge effort to get people to speak French, but a lot of students just don't care, and would end the program speaking almost no more French than they had started with. That was my least favorite part of my experience, and unfortunately, there's only so much the program itself can do to entice students to actually speak French.
Yes, I recommend
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Monique
10/10

Wonderful!

My semester in Nantes was one of my favorite semesters in undergrad. I made friends that I'm sure will last a life time, ate wonderful foods, and learned more than I imaged I would. I especially loved my internship teaching English to local elementary school students.

Yes, I recommend
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Steve
10/10

IES Nantes In The Time It Take To Drink Your Morning Coffee

Whenever people ask what defined my study abroad experience, I always answer, "the people." At IES Nantes I met some of the most interesting, adventurous, kind, and open-minded people I've ever known. The program ranges from 50-80 students a semester, so I connected with just about everyone over the course of four months. The staff worked extremely hard to foster a sense of community and culture for us, celebrating everyone's who had a birthday abroad and even the Teaching Assistants spent time with us outside of their paid hours. The IES building is located in the heart of downtown, just one block from the beautiful Place Graslin. We'd often just sit outside on the steps of the Opera house, people watching and munching on chocolate croissants (you can't go more than two blocks without seeing a bakery).
Many students, like myself, have to decide between the IES Paris program and IES Nantes. To these students, I say go to Nantes. Paris is stunning, but I visited towards the end of my semester abroad, when I was fairly proficient in French, but waiters, vendors, taxi drivers all hear your accent and it's easier for them to speak English. In Nantes, fewer people know English and it really helps to advance your French speaking skills. Plus, Paris is 3 hours away by Train; you can go every weekend if you want.

How can this program be improved?
Things to know: It rains frequently in Nantes. Always carry an umbrella.
There is no Starbucks in Nantes, so to-go coffee is harder to come by though there are one or two shops.
The IES teaching internship is a worthwhile experience but it is very disorganized and you will pull your hair out over it occasionally. If you want to be an ESL teacher though, it's a must.
There is a citywide bike rental system called "Bicloo", which is similar to Citi bikes in New York. If you live close to the downtown area and don't mind exercise, I'd recommend buying a Bicloo card. It's 30 euros for a year, versus 30 euros/month for a bus pass.
Yes, I recommend
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Jack
8/10

A Wonderful, Immersive Study Abroad Experience

IES Nantes was a wonderful, immersive, and challenging way to spend an academic year abroad. The opportunity to take all of my classes at the university allowed me to meet some really great professors and make friends in the community, while the classes offered through IES were challenging without being overwhelming, and the professors were amazingly qualified.

Nantes is a fun place to live and study, and although it lacks the glamour of Paris, there is a vibrant arts scene and a lot of nature surrounding the city. It is a great place for running and water sports, concerts, and theater. Although it has almost a million inhabitants, Nantes can feel really cozy, and the Christmas markets and the centre ville in winter are reminiscent of a Hallmark film.

How can this program be improved?
Nantes will challenge you academically and it will really stretch your language skills. There is no substitute for speaking French in Nantes.
Yes, I recommend
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Victoria
9/10

Wonderful Experiences

I absolutely fell in love with Nantes. I enjoyed the little things ever so much along with enjoying my time at the center. The staff are very friendly and supportive of each student. IES does a great job with host family matching because I got to live with a family that is interested in similar things I am and I almost inspire to be like my host parents when I am older, working hard but a great social life. The locals are incredibly nice and helpful and will just randomly start a conversation with you. When I was at my bus stop, a woman asked by chance if I was american and we just started a conversation both in English and French and it was such a cool experience to talk with someone who came here and fell in love with the city just like I have. There is a lot of things to do and the social coordinator is incredibly awesome, she always has something planned. There really is never a dull moment in Nantes but for those who like downtime, there are plenty of spots and moments for that as well. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience here, and I really want to stay here.

How can this program be improved?
I would like to change the amount of time I spent with IES students. IES likes to group us together and if you are not in a group, it's cliquey enough so someone would get left out. Besides, when we are together, we just speak English which is contrary to the French only speaking policy in the center. I would have really liked to immerse myself with the other French students but if you take all of your classes at IES, it is super difficult to meet French students your age, especially the ones at conversation club are obtaining their masters for the most part. I spend the most time speaking French and spending time with my host family but I am lucky enough to get along with them and if I ever have a question or concern, I can go to them for anything.
Yes, I recommend
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Katie
9/10

The road less traveled

Nantes is one of the most amazing cities I have ever been to. It's beautiful and full of so much culture. IES does a great job of helping students get to know the region through field trips and subsidizing events in the city. There is a lot of support from the staff and French teaching assistants and there are opportunities to get involved in the life of the French university through coursework and extracurricular activities.

Yes, I recommend
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Anna
10/10

IES Nantes - amazing experience!

My time with IES Abroad was wonderful. I had a wonderful host family that I felt right at home with from the second I arrived. IES does a phenomenal job in placing you with families that will benefit you the most during your time abroad, and they make you feel comfortable. Taking classes with IES was also a great experience. The professors were extremely helpful, and I learned a lot in my time there. The IES center was also a wonderful place. If you had questions, there were a lot of staff members you could go to, and they always made sure that your time there was as exciting and beneficial as possible. There were always activities for these students to participate in, we went on numerous trips to different places in France, and got to know one another really well. There was never a dull moment with IES Nantes, and if I could do it over, I would definitely choose this program again.

Yes, I recommend
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scmeslin
9/10

I'm so grateful to have had the experiences I did!

I really loved my stay in Nantes. It is true what everyone says--when you're in Paris with an American accent, the French will start speaking to you in English; that is not the case in Nantes. English is not as widespread and so we were forced to speak French with the locals. The IES Center itself also had a French-only policy that was enforced, so even us Americans spoke to each other in French. I did have a bit of difficulty adjusting to the personality of my host family. They were more formal and less inviting than I hoped they would be, but it still ended up working fine. I loved seeing the "typically French" architecture of Nantes everyday, and having a wonderful public transportation system to get me around town (something I had to quickly learn!) My favorite parts of the IES program itself, however, was the family-atmosphere that was present among the group of us. I loved the excursions to other locations in France as well. I would definitely recommend this program!

How can this program be improved?
I did feel that I could have had more contact with French students. Since I didn't take classes at the local university, there was not much opportunity to interact on a daily basis with French people other than the staff at IES and our host families.
Yes, I recommend
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Lizzy
9/10

IES Nantes is a family.

If you're looking to build a community of people who support you abroad, then IES Nantes is the program for you. I would say the value of this program is that you don't just build bonds with people from a variety of locations across the United States, you build strong relationships with French people. You'll have ties to your professors, your host family, and the staff at IES, along with their student assistants from the University of Nantes.

Also, if you are looking to really improve speaking skills, Nantes is the place to go. French is the only language spoken at the IES Center, so you get plenty of practice! Locals speak limited English, so you'll be on your own to navigate everyday situations in a foreign language. It is a challenge, but it is worthwhile, and by the end, you'll be glad you choose to go to Nantes.

How can this program be improved?
While I built really strong connections with French families and adults, I wish I had met more French students. There were special events organized for this purpose, but I wound up spending that time with my host family instead.

I guess it is kind of a trade off. Either you have a program where you're a part of a family, or one where your friends are your age. If this program had just thrown me in to the University of Nantes with no support, I would have felt lost. But I also might have met more students.
Yes, I recommend
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Kristin
9/10

Oh La Loire

The 5 months I spent in Nantes, France were some of the best days of my life. The IES program has a great combination of fun and education. Our lives were not too packed with school work and the staff and professors were excited for us to know as much as possible about the city. The activities set up through the program to get to know French people were great for us to practice our speaking and to meet the natives. It's a great city and a great program.

How can this program be improved?
It would have been helpful to know before going which classes specifically, were going to be offered.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
rabishai
10/10

The study abroad experience you need!

My semester in Nantes was everything I ever dreamed studying abroad would be except it was a thousand times better. I always thought I would study in Paris but when I learned of the Nantes program, I realized it was the best choice for me. Nantes is the perfect size - not too big, not too small - so by the end of the semester I really felt like I had gotten to know all of Nantes well, something I don't think I would have felt after only a semester in Paris. Still, I never ran out of things to do. I really felt at home in Nantes and like I was living the life of a French student, not just a visitor trying to fit in. People in Nantes are so welcoming and very patient with non-native French speakers so everywhere you go in Nantes, you are getting great experience speaking French.

I think the biggest strength of the program is the homestay. I know that if I had lived in a dorm or apartments with other American students, I would have spoken so much English. Living with a family, though difficult in the beginning, was the single greatest thing I ever did for my French speaking abilities. The families that work with the IES program are all very experienced in hosting American students. They welcome the students into their homes and treat them like family. I was invited to my host brother's wedding while I was there. I know many other families took their students with them to their vacation homes during breaks.

Another wonderful thing provided by the IES program is the French assistants. Several French graduate students work for IES and plan events for the students in the program, run the conversation club, and hold office hours for help with homework. They are a great resource because they are also students so they give awesome recommendations for things to do and see in Nantes and how to be successful as a student in France.

Nantes is a beautiful city, full of so much culture and history and conveniently located for travel around France, especially to Paris and from there, the rest of Europe. It's a great place to spend quality time learning French in a non-threatening environment. I would feel so much more comfortable living and speaking French in Paris after my semester in Nantes. I have visited Paris several times and of course it is as incredible as everyone says it is but I am so glad I got to know another part of France and expand my knowledge of French culture and language in Nantes.

How can this program be improved?
The one thing I would change is the fact that many IES classes were held on Friday and attendance was very important for your grade. I have heard some other study abroad programs don't have class on Friday to allow students flexibility when traveling on the weekends. Since I went in the fall, I didn't have the option of traveling for long after the semester because I had to be back for class at home during the first week of January. I was still able to travel on some weekends and during the breaks but I think it would have been easier and I could have done more if there were no classes on Friday.
Yes, I recommend
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erozina
9/10

IES Nantes was the perfect choice for a semester abroad

I absolutely loved my semester in Nantes France. Nantes is really beautiful and very typically french. I really wanted to go somewhere where I could improve my french everyday and Nantes was perfect for that. I lived with a host family that was so welcoming and willing to help me practice. Having dinner with them every night really helped with my vocabulary and my comfort level with the language. I still keep in contact with them and know that I can visit them anytime I am back in France. IES Nantes also conducts a weekly conversation group where a lot of French students come to practice their english. The conversation group is great because so many people participate (americans and french) and it allows you the opportunity to make French friends. Me and my friends met a group of french students that we ended up hanging out with almost every weekend.

The IES staff is very helpful with everything and very caring. I felt completely comfortable coming to them with anything even if it was just to talk.

With all of the public transportation it is really easy to get around and pretty cheap too if you buy the student transportation pass. It is also very easy to travel around Europe from Nantes. It only takes 2 hours by train to get to Paris and the Charles de Gaulle airport.

Overall I had a wonderful experience in Nantes and would go back immediately if I could. You can't go wrong with IES Nantes.

How can this program be improved?
My only problem with the program was that the first week was a little rushed. We only spent about 2 days with our host families before being rushed off to Tours for our overnight orientation. I wish we had had a little more time to settle in before leaving for the weekend. Orientation was a little exhausting with all of the activities but I think it helped keep my mind off of the initial homesickness until I really started to settle in to life in Nantes.
Yes, I recommend
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Katie
10/10

Do you want to BE French for the duration of your stay?

I chose Nantes because I wanted a smaller city than Paris where I wouldn't be overwhelmed by tourists, and I chose perfectly. IES is the only American study abroad program there that I know of, so I really learned how to speak French like a native!

My host family was definitely one of the best parts of my stay. We had dinner together every night as well as some lunches, and they included me in conversations and made me feel like a member of the family - I felt so welcome, and I still talk with my host sisters on Facebook over a year after my trip!

Nantes is small enough that you can find your way around fairly easily, but large enough that there is always something new. As president of my class, I found a lot of small concerts for us to go to, crêperies to visit, or festivals to attend. There was a kind of farmers' market every Saturday with homemade goods and homegrown vegetables and fruits, as well as clothes or toys to buy as souvenirs.

The public transportation system in Nantes was such a big help! The tram lines are pretty centrally located, and there are buses to go all over in between. I definitely wasn't used to that and it was awesome! It was kind of a pain applying for the student monthly pass, but it's worth it for the convenience once you have it.

Travel tip: if you plan on taking a lot of weekend trips, consider buying an SNCF carte pour 12-25 ans. It automatically gets you at least a 25% discount on TGV tickets, and sometimes as much as 60%! I think mine was around 50 Euro and it easily paid for itself within two tickets.

I hope your stay in France is as memorable as mine - make sure you take pictures because you will love looking back on them and reminiscing :)

How can this program be improved?
The initial orientation was so much fun, but then everything in the first few weeks was so demanding and hectic. Buying a phone, a tram pass, OFI appointment, picking out classes, etc was a bit overwhelming. It did teach us more independence though, so it's not all bad.
Yes, I recommend

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