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 49 reviews
  • Academics 8.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 31 - 45 of 49
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Jane
10/10

Looking for French Immersion? This is it.

If you are seeking a study abroad program to help improve your French language skills, IES Nantes is an excellent choice. It is an exceptionally well-organized program (they are very experienced and just celebrated their 50th anniversary!) with support staff who are always there to help. The city is a nice size--a big city but not so big that you encounter English speakers (read: NOT the touristy maze that you find in Paris). I loved my semester and was able to immerse myself in my host culture, but I also had the opportunity to travel extensively outside of France. The Spring semester students generally get two separate week-long breaks in addition to multiple three-day weekends. Take advantage! I would re-enroll in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
There isn't anything specific that I can think of to be improved. I would have liked better weather in Nantes. ;)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Gail
9/10

Everything I hoped for (and more!)

IES Abroad Nantes is an amazing program! Specifically, the host families and the program/university classes are two things I will highlight that were a huge part of everyone's day-to-day experiences. The host families are your home base: they really do welcome you in with open arms (which is rather difficult when you think about it, inviting an almost complete stranger into your home!) and want to help you immerse into the French culture. Most nights, I had dinner with my host mom and it was the perfect opportunity for me to speak with her and for me, those dinners were the main reason for the improvement in my French communication skills. The program offers its own classes, but also allows you to take courses at the local universities. I split my course load between the program and the local university: at first, the classes at the local university were difficult, because the professors spoke rather quickly, but I got used to it after a few weeks (as most people did once our French improved) and began to enjoy taking classes that I would not have thought about taking at my home university!

One thing I wish I had done differently was I wish I had talked to more French students at the local university. From my own experiences and what I heard from previous students, it is rather difficult to speak to them, because it is intimidating trying to speak to a native French speaker with his or her friend group who have probably been friends for years. However, once you make a French friend, you become very close and have a bond that you might not have with friends at your home university.

How can this program be improved?
As many activities as there were to help us speak to French students, I wish I had more opportunities to speak to them one on one. We need to take the initiative, but the program should provide a stronger platform for us to meet with French students and connect with them one on one outside of the weekly conversation club.
Yes, I recommend this program
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AAndrus
10/10

The Experience of a Lifetime

I absolutely loved my time in Nantes. The staff was friendly and helpful, I forged a lasting bond with my host family and made friends I will never forget. The city is so easy to get around in with the public transportation system. It is a charming city, big enough that something was always happening but small enough that I was able to get to know it well in just one semester. It was beautiful, and walkable.

How can this program be improved?
The acedemic schedule is difficult. In the first part of the semester, there is absolutely know work and the last month is midterms, papers and finals. I wish they would spread the work out a bit more.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
Default avatar
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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
Default avatar
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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program

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