USAC France: Pau
93% Rating
(24 Reviews)

USAC France: Pau

USAC welcomes students to come study abroad at the University of Pau in France! USAC's French and European Studies program gives students the opportunity to study in this small, charming city set against the magnificent Pyrenees.

Courses available at the University of Pau are taught in both English and French, and range from French language courses at all levels to multi-disciplinary options focusing on French studies. Professional Internships can also be arranged for students of at least Junior standing who have taken no less than 4 semesters of college level French or equivalent.

  • Live in charming Pau, a lovely small city set against a stunning backdrop of the Pyrenees and with more green space per inhabitant than any other European city
  • Choose from courses in Intensive French plus a choice of electives
  • Enjoy field trips to the Pyrenees and the French Basque coast
  • Take the optional Paris/Loire Tour and soak up all the “City of Light” has to offer
  • Participate in sports activities such as skiing, hiking, yoga, dance and more
Program Type
Subject Areas
European Studies
International Business
Academic Year
Host Family
Online Application
Visa Requirement
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Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 24 reviews
  • Academics 8.3
  • Support 8.8
  • Fun 8.5
  • Housing 8.2
  • Safety 9.2
  • Impact 0
  • Support 0
  • Fun 0
  • Value 0
  • Safety 0
Showing 1 - 15 of 24
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Best Semester of College

The town of Pau is a quaint yet modern. The French streets and centre-ville are quintessentially French and this town turned out to be the perfect place to study abroad. It is easy to travel in the surrounding area to make for a weekend adventure but having Pau as a home base facilitates being in school throughout the week and being successful in class, including consistent attendance. My program through USAC as well as a course I was taking, accommodated dates and times as well as activities and guides for weekend visits to other towns and regions. Personally, my whole undergraduate career was leading up to my study abroad experience, and I was thinking ahead of time what it would be like once I returned home and how I could use the experience abroad to affect my life after I returned home, in work and school and my general outlook on life. Study abroad affected all of these aspects in a positive way.
Something important that I didn't anticipate was that my immune system would be affected and I would get sick while I was abroad. This happened twice where I had to go to a physician but I was able to use the University medical services and the people there were very helpful and understanding and the services as well as medicine were not nearly as expensive as they would have been back home. That was a pleasant surprise, but these services were also covered through the study abroad insurance. I also found that I needed to commute to school, while it is not easy to choose where a future host family lives, it might be useful to mention that proximity to campus is a key factor in your housing preferences. Getting lost is just something that happens and will happen often, if you are someone who has a great sense of direction I would offer your services or assert yourself amongst friends and classmates! International phone plan is also absolutely necessary, especially being able to use internet without wifi (which will happen often because there is not nearly as much free wifi in France as there is in the U.S.). If you have arranged for a host family, make this a priority, this is THE best way to improve your french outside of class, and only a couple hundred dollars more than the dorms (but includes more meals in a family setting, laundry and in most cases wifi at home, a kitchen, etc.). Also know that arrangements for housing aren't all clearly laid out ahead of time, each family is particular and will generally offer more than they are expected because I found that most French families are generous. The program will make every effort to match your specific and ideal requests with the right family and do not hesitate to ask for exactly what you would like in a home stay experience.

How can this program be improved?
more telling/descriptive information from USAC about the specific aspects of daily living and connecting earlier on with the host family would help alleviate prior anxiety. Life in France is very, very different than life in the U.S. and a sneak peek of what that looks like before you have to enter it all at once may be helpful and reassuring for some students.
I would go grocery shopping every couple of days for food and I would pack little lunches to save money or in some cases I would bring leftovers from dinner with my family at home. You might want to bring a lunchbox with to pack food during the day.
Yes, I recommend
Packing Light ;)

Home Away from Home

Last year, I packed my bags in the middle of July and headed across the globe for five months to explore continental Europe and improve my French. I can whole-heartedly say that living in Pau was one of my favorite, most cherished times of my life, and here's why:

1. I lived with a French family who welcomed me into their home and city with unparalleled hospitality. I had two host sisters who would invite me to go get dinner or coffee, watch movies, or take walks around the neighborhood, and my host parents would teach me to cook traditional French recipes and help me with my language homework. Dinners with my host family were accompanied by hours and hours of French conversation. I learned so much about French culture through these dialogues (not to mention vocabulary!).

2. My French professors were incredibly helpful. Spending hours in a classroom reading, writing, and speaking French can get tiresome, but my professors were passionate about helping us improve. We often discussed French culture versus our home countries, and since my classmates were from all over the world (Angola, Columbia, South Korea, China, etc.), I learned so much about so many different cultures. I made amazing friendships with both French and international students, and it was helpful to practice my French with peers while learning about them and their home countries in the process.

3. Pau is a city unlike any other. Nestled near the Pyrénées mountain along the western coast of France, it takes less than two hours to reach either the mountains or the beach. Pau has a small-town vibe, but if you look for a night-life, you can find it. The centre-ville is quaint and filled with rich history, but it is also a technologically-advanced city, not to mention absolutely beautiful. There are always events taking place, plus tons of restaurants and shops. Anything you're looking for, you can find it in Pau!

I always knew I wanted to study in France, but was unsure how to choose the city. What I wanted most was an authentic French experience with an opportunity to speak French 24/7. Pau went above and beyond my expectations. By the end of the semester, I was able to have complete conversations with total strangers in French; my playlists were filled with French music that I had picked up from the radio, my host sisters, and other friends; I could walk all around the city without a map and know exactly where I was. Pau is the perfect town for a study abroad experience, and USAC's connections with host families and the university were second to none.

As for myself, Pau truly became a home away from home and I cannot wait to visit again.

Yes, I recommend

Fall 2017

This program represented many firsts for me. It was my first time studying abroad, my first time visiting France, and the first time I’ve stayed with a host family.

The two greatest benefits of the program are the fact that Your French skills will definitely improve and that you will meet wonderful people from many different backgrounds. This USAC program is special in that regard because the students you find in your classes are not just your fellow Americans, they come from other international backgrounds. Incidentally, I was the only USAC student in my french classes.

I must also use this space to give a shout out to the Pau Staff. I couldn’t have succeeded in the program without their continuous support.

If you’d like to take advantage of a genuine international experience in a quaint french town with a lot to offer then this program is for you. If you’re serious about becoming a francophone then don’t hesitate. You won’t regret it!

Yes, I recommend

Awesome program and university for learning French!

L'Université de Pau et des pays de l'adour is only of those universities that brings in students from all over the world, so I met people from all over. At the same time, the program helps big time in connecting its students to French students/locals. Both in and out of class, my French level skyrocketed. Also, lots of cool excursions and things to see and do in/around Pau. Hoping I get to go back someday!

How can this program be improved?
I do recall wishing to have more free time from classes – maybe the schedule was a little hectic for making friends and meeting up with them outside class.
Yes, I recommend
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Study abroad in France, do it!

My summer in France was amazing. The USAC staff was great at making the before process really smooth. My advisor had no problem answering all of my questions.

My host family was really nice and made an effort to help me feel like part of their family. They took me on all of their family trips and even helped me practice my French. Even just spending a couple weeks in France made a big difference in my language skills.

Yes, I recommend
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Vive le 64

The USAC Pau program provides numerous opportunities for all students learning French. The academic set-up of this program is to give all students an equal chance to learn French according to their abilities and speed. The onsite staff and professors greatly encouraged and supported all students regardless of level and that gave us a welcoming and accommodating feeling in a city we were new to. In addition to the in-class academics, USAC organized tours and field trips throughout the semester to nearby cities and towns. Not only did it give us the chance to improve our French outside of the classroom, but to also get acquainted to our surroundings and the culture of Southwest France.

The city itself is undeniably picturesque. The main street in Pau, Boulevard des Pyrenees, where much of the night life can be found, has the backdrop of the Pyrenees mountain range. With that, there are many opportunities for studies to experience the outdoors with university-led hiking, skiing and kayaking trips.

While Pau may be hard to find on the map of France, it is a phenomenal city with a phenomenal program. The amount of knowledge that I gained in not only French, but also about myself and the world is innumerable.

I highly suggest that you consider this program. The onsite staff, the host families, the professors and the community as a whole was so extremely welcoming. Pau will forever be considered another home for me.

Yes, I recommend
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Charming Little Town in France

I went to Pau, France for about 5 weeks during the summer of 2013 through USAC. I took many years of French in high school and wanted to be able to use some of what I learned in real world applications. I had also never been to Europe before and thought this would be a great place to visit for the first time.

Pau is a town of about 100,000 close to the Basque country in Southern France. It's quaint and quintessentially French--a lot of the customs are still observed in Pau, such as closing shops down on Sunday, that you probably won't find in a big city like Paris. Moreover, if you're looking to practice your French, Pau would be a great city since not a lot of people automatically speak English back to you. Even though it's a small town, there's still a downtown with bars, museums, restaurants and shops, so you won't get bored, especially if you're there for a short period of time.

The program directors were great--they addressed all of our concerns in a timely manner. The course instructors were very good as well--they were local French professors who taught foreign students. I definitely felt that my French improved greatly after my month abroad.

Pau is close to bigger cities such as Toulouse and Bordeaux--only about 2 hours away by train. The city is also close to beaches on the Atlantic ocean as well as the resort city of San Sebastian, Spain, and the program includes enough free time to visit all of these places. The optional Paris tour was great too--got to see all the major sites in just a few days.

Yes, I recommend
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Looking for something?

Open-minded people. Spirituality. A family. A new career outlook. Perhaps your old self. France, like many other countries, is a pathway that will lead you to places you never thought could be so beautiful had you not decided to take them.
Everyday is something new. In France, a day in the life for me was so much more than the smells of warm chocolate croissants coming from the patisseries, or the rain splashing down on my umbrella. It was learning about myself through the struggles of language barriers, to the unfortunate forgetfulness of my boarding pass, to the talks about life with local taxi drivers at 2am. You will never be able to limit what you are looking for if you decide to embark the path of studying abroad, because they will undoubtedly find you, and prove you wrong in all of the best ways imaginable.

Yes, I recommend
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My semester abroad in Pau was life changing. I learned so much about the French culture and also more about myself. I met amazing friends that I know I will be close with forever. My French was at a beginner's level when I arrived and it improved a lot. I am even thinking about studying in Pau again to finish my French minor. Pau is the perfect little city. It has great shopping, dining, and nightlife. I made so many French friends that I still keep in touch with today. I lived with a host family. The program takes you on fun trips to cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse. Ryan and Robina were so helpful. The more I write,the more I miss Pau! While I was abroad, I was lucky enough to travel to 10 other countries.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change would be my living arrangement. I lived with a host family and I did not get the specific number of meals per month.
Yes, I recommend
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Most Interesting Summer of My Life

I never thought I'd learned so much from going to Pau for my study abroad program. It was interesting at first knowing that not many people there spoke English; thus, I had to really use my French to get around.

The good: The city is beautiful, and I have missed it everyday ever since I left. The people are friendly, the foods are to die for. La Maison Macaron and Georgio's became the top visited places for me and my friends. It's a small city, so getting lost wasn't really a concern. I usually stayed on Marechal Joffre and around to check out the stores. The buses will be your best friends if you don't want to walk the miles.

You have to speak French! And if you don't, you'll end up confused. I love the field trips and the activities we did outside class. My first term I had Marie-Helene as my teacher, and she had been the best teacher I'd ever had my entire life. If I go to Pau again, I'll make sure to find her.

The second term of the program we got international students coming in, and it was a blast. I ended up placed in the class with bunch of Europeans who had spoken French fluently, and I thought I was about to lose my head. But it turned out wonderful and I had learned so much.

Ryan and Pauline are the nicest, sweetest people I'd ever had as advisers. They're very helpful and they are so full of love.

The ugly: Unfortunately, the city wasn't as safe as I thought it'd be. The first week of school, someone snatched away my laptop while I was using it on campus. So the first week I ended up visiting the police station twice. They told me that they'd send me documents and information, which never came.

Internet was horrible in the dorms. I had to walk to McDo to skype and do some research. After the laptop incident on campus, I got too scared to stay on campus for too long to use the internet.

The weather was a nightmare when I got there. It rained all the time and it was difficult for us to get around without getting soaked. However, we got used to it and started enjoying it.

The bad: It was so hard to leave! I wanted to stay so badly that I made plans to just buy a house there and stay there forever with some friends. The month of sales was horrible too in a way that I couldn't help but visit the stores everyday to buy something.

What I'd have done differently:
Pack lightly. With the sales going on, I ended up throwing out some stuff to have space in my luggage.
Chain my laptop to my arm or something.
Get internet access for my dorm.
Bring more jackets and sweaters, and long pants. I know I had no problem with it, but a lot of my friends brought shorts and it was freezing at some points.
Extend my stay.

How can this program be improved?
The staff need to prepare themselves for the worst that can happen. Everyone told me the campus was very safe, but obviously it wasn't when my laptop was snatched away from my hands. I remember a very nice French couple who found me on campus took me to the police station, and I returned back to the dorm that night feeling horribly shaken. I had to wait for someone from USAC to take me back to the police station the next morning, and afterwards, it wasn't very nice when I heard, "You still can make it to class. You have about half an hour to an hour left. Before it's marked as an absence."

I was traumatized! I wouldn't want to miss my class either if it wasn't for the police station appointment. And the day after, the staff made an announcement that all students were responsible for their belongings and should not stay on campus late. Also, I was told that it wasn't a big deal and I shouldn't be bummed. Honestly, I never even thought of asking them to replace my laptop. I just wanted them to tell me that everything would be okay, that bad things happened every once in awhile. But no, instead I got cold shoulder and was avoided for a week or two. I won't mention names, but if only the staff could be nicer and more understanding, it'd be wonderful.

They need internet in the dorms. I always spotted people at McDo, using the internet there because they never got internet in their rooms.

Yes, I recommend
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Realistically Amazing

I had an amazing time in Pau, but realistically there were some struggles and things that should and I hope are improved for future students. I loved the option to stay with a host family and the staff makes sure to pick families that want to have students and take you in as a part of their family.

Host Family Tips:
Eat supper with your family, ask them about their day, make an effort to get to know the, let them know if you won't be around, be respectful, keep your room clean, if you have a problem talk to them about it, address conflict in a mature and respectful manner.

The staff was very welcoming in Pau, but I didn't really think they were very helpful. I can understand it because they have people from all over participating, but it can still be frustrating.

Tips for Communicating with Staff:
Be specific about your questions, decide if they are the appropriate resource (it may be better to ask your host family or home university or someone that has previously been on the program), keep them informed on your weekend travels, remember they are not travel agencies.

The weather in Pau can be frustrating. It rained over 50% of the days I was there. I actually ended up keeping a journal and writing whether or not it rained each day I was there. When it starts getting cold (late October/November) the mix of cold and rain can be quite chilly and dreary.

Tips for Clothes:
Bring warm clothes, RAIN BOOTS, warm socks, umbrella, LAYERS, scarves, gloves, hat, etc.

Finally remember to enjoy yourself and to try to focus on the positives. Your experience is what you make it and usually thoughts affect how you feel. If you are upset about something it will probably affect and possible ruin your time. Remember that you have the power to decide how much you will enjoy your time. Also it can be pretty tough to meet other French students that aren't a part of the program. You have to be the one to take action to make French friends. It does help to go out and experience life in Pau to make these friends or meet people.

How can this program be improved?
More interaction with French students.
Yes, I recommend
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Beautiful place, unhelpful directors

I learned a lot while I was in France, passed my fluency test, and travelled all over Europe. What I didn't like was how little the program directors were willing to help you- Robina in particular. I came to her with a housing problem, and she brushed it off. This is why I rated my overall experience as 8/10 instead of 10/10. If I had had help with the housing situation, it would have been 10/10.

How can this program be improved?
Better housing situations/help.
Yes, I recommend
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Falling in Love with Pau, France

The hardest question for a student who wishes to study abroad is,"where do I want to go?" Where have they always wanted to go, can they speak the language, will they fall in love with the people or the places, and is that the place where they can go off into the world alone and know that they will feel the change that study abroad can bring? Pau, France is a place that has engraved its way into my heart. The people I got to meet, the family I got to live with, the places I got to see, and the overall change I got to experience.

The moment that I stepped off the plane, after 24hours worth of traveling because of bad weather, my host mother greeted me with bisous, hugs, and whole hearted welcomes. She took me back to the home where I would be staying for four months, allowed me to settle down and take in the exciting world around me. I would get to meet my family later that night, a family that would become my second home or even my "French Family," they helped me throughout the following months more then words can describe and I can not wait for when I can go back to visit them.

After orientation and visiting the campus the next step would be to go to classes, meet my professors, and figure out how on earth I was going to study in French. The school week would consist of around one class a day that would spread from 5-7 hours, there would be amazingly long lunch breaks between class each day. The routine would be like this; class for two hours, two hour (or one hour) lunch break, and then the final three hours of class. The only reason classes might run up to seven hours is if there is a chance to add an elective, in this case I had a Southern France history class which helped me understand the history of where I was.

After classes there would be so much time to explore the downtown area, you could take the bus (which is very easy to figure out) and it would take you right to Les Halles, which is a giant building for a farmers market, and you would be a small walk away from the main hangout. The main hangout for my group (and groups before that) was known as the fountain, everyone would meet up there and explore it all together. There were small festivals, events that the university would tell you about, and just fun places to go and search for. If you just felt a little too tired and didn't want to wander around you could always go to the most american controlled bar, the galloway! I have an unlimited amount of funny moments at the galloway that I got to experience with my group, it is worth the time to go visit for a pint of beer!

If you decided to eat out there were a variety of places for you to enjoy an amazing meal like Letna for pizzas, the kabob place, and more! The best part for me was being able to come home and have dinner with my family (which was at 9pm!) We would talk, drink wine, have amazing home cooked meals, and just laugh the night away.

My days would consist of this lovely routine for months (unless I was traveling around which I tried to do each weekend), it was hard to leave France just as hard as it was to leave the states. I had to leave a second family, I had to leave a whole new set of friends, and it was scary because I thought I would have to leave this new stringer person that I had become. Truth is I brought all of these changes home with me, still see the people I met back in France, and I still send emails to my host family. I didn't loose anything but gained a whole new experience.

USAC did an amazing job planning out weekend events and places to travel, placing students in the classes appropriate for there knowledge on the language, and being a valuable resource for students to go to. I would suggest this to any and everyone, I actually do suggest it constantly. There would be emails about events happening in town, on campus, and information on why the events were happening. Amazing staff which would talk to you and help you with any small request you had!

Yes, I recommend
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Great place to study!

The teachers at Pau are pretty good at getting everyone to understand. You can choose to live in a host family or in the dorms. Robina, Ryan, and crew are very helpful from traveling problems to being sick (I had gotten a throat infection and they booked a doctor's appointment for me as well as helped me explain what was wrong in French). They will also listen to any problems you have and can give you tips for just about anything (from visiting places to how to improve your French by speaking it daily).

How can this program be improved?
I think the thing I disliked the most was class schedules. Starting at 8 am for one whole semester when I had a minimum 20 minute walk to campus was very difficult (and not always accomplished). It's not really something that USAC can change, however. It would be the same thing at any U.S. university where the class schedules just turn out that way.
Yes, I recommend
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Learn to Love the Real France in Pau

Pau is a small city, but it has shopping, movies, kayaking on the river, swimming pools, and bars to enjoy at night. The walk to school was safe and my host family was amazing! On the average day, I ate breakfast, went to class, hung out with friends downtown, and then went home for dinner in the evenings. The citizens do not speak much English, so you are really forced to utilize your French skills. I became fluent in French during my short time in Pau. I had difficulty understanding the out-of-town bus schedules at first, and it was also tricky to befriend the locals. However, once you meet one or two locals, they are all very friendly! I loved travelling outside Pau, because so many things are close. I went to San Sebastian, Spain; Biarritz, France; the Pyrenees Mountains; and the ancient caves that surround the area. It is big enough to have everything you need but small enough to become knowledgeable of it in a few short weeks. Pau is wonderful and I highly recommend this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

How can this program be improved?
I would have appreciated a physical schedule for out-of-town buses and trains, because I got stranded in a town outside of Pau!
Yes, I recommend

About USAC

USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing...