France: Pau - French Language and European Studies

Video and Photos

une cathedrale au centre-ville Pau
une cathedrale au centre-ville Pau
Gavarnie - cirque de noel, les pyrenees
Gavarnie - cirque de noel, les pyrenees
Bordeaux - USAC 2017
Bordeaux - USAC 2017
USAC Pau Fall 2017 Group
USAC Pau Fall 2017 Group
Boulevard des Pyrénées
Boulevard des Pyrénées
Christmas in Pau
Christmas in Pau
Octobre Rose en Centre-Ville
Octobre Rose en Centre-Ville
Host Sisters
Host Sisters

About

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.

Highlights
  • 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

New Program: Comparative Studies: Uruguay and Cuba Summer Session

Study abroad Summer 2020 for eight weeks, beginning in Montevideo, Uruguay and continuing to La Habana, Cuba, for a comparative Latin studies program ideal for any student and of particular interest to health, gender and Spanish language students.

Scholarships

USAC Scholarships
USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

Value
$500 - $1,000

Questions & Answers

The exam is comprehensive, including essay, fill in the blank, and listening comprehension for the written section, and then there is typically an oral conversation component as well. You should review your most recent semester French coursework to be the most prepared. If you have further questions you can email us at studyabroad@usac.edu Thank you!

I had class Monday-Thursday from morning until evening (2 hours of class then 2 hours of break, etc.) and I travelled almost every weekend.

Reviews

92%
based on 34 reviews
  • Academics 8.4
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.7
  • Housing 8.6
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 34
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great program, location and value

I went abroad with USAC after being recommended the program by my advisor at my home university since I really wanted to study in the southern region of France and my school didn't really have any programs there. The cost was very reasonable, comparable to in-state tuition and included housing and organized excursions. The on-site program directors really helped navigate the university in a way that might have been difficult with just a direct exchange. I loved the opportunity to do a homestay and enjoyed the program-led excursions that I would not have done on my own, especially the guided tour in Paris before arriving in Pau. I highly recommend USAC for a study abroad program!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Immerse yourself with locals to improve your language!
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Avery
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life-changing experience

This was my second study abroad in France, the first was through my home university. USAC’s program was amazing!! They placed me with an incredible host family and planned SO many activities for us that were included in the cost, like hiking in the Pyrénées, river rafting, going to the zoo, and going to Bayonne/Biarritz. My classes were challenging and I learned so much, combined with living with my host family. I also really enjoyed the field trips-I took the art history class, and we went to some cathedrals and museums to incorporate what we were learning in class, which was a great way to see the city as well!I highly recommend this program!! I would say though that Pau is a very small city with not a lot of nightlife/shops open later in the evening so just keep that in mind.

What was your funniest moment?
Going river rafting and competing with the other teams/watching them fall into the river 😂
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Abigail
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Treasured Life Experience

I studied abroad in Pau, France with the USAC program. The start to the semester was nerve wracking as there were many technical difficulties with sorting out the wifi, heating, and phone plans as well as class schedules. However, after the first three weeks things inevitably sorted themselves out. I loved making friends with classmates from around the world as well as with the fellow Americans in the program who came from all around the States. The language program was challenging but not overly so. The immersion in class made a world of difference to everyone's writing and speaking skills and the professors were truly lovely people. There were several opportunities to meet with French students from the University but there was nowhere near as much immersion in that regard as I had expected. In addition, I wished it were easier to get assigned a French tutor. Other than that, however, I would say the program was fairly well run. There was plenty of time out of class to explore the small city, go shopping and eat out with friends. Traveling to the coast nearby or to other places in Europe via Ouibus was convenient, affordable and a lot of fun. Overall, I was able to achieve my goals to travel, get better at French, meet people from around the world, and gain more confidence in myself through the many unexpected challenges.

What would you improve about this program?
I wished it were easier to get assigned a French tutor. And that the USAC staff were more helpful at the beginning of the semester with getting wifi and heating set up in the apartments.
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my experience in Pau!

Pau is a great city to study abroad in--not too big that you feel overwhelmed, but big enough that there is always something new to do! USAC on-site staff were always available to answer any questions. Their office was always open, and students were constantly stopping by to chat. Pau has such a unique variety of restaurants and bars that you'll never get bored! And it has a train station close to the city center making traveling around Europe really convenient! USAC sponsored several trips for us to see the surrounding cities and countries. We traveled to the Pays-Basque Regio, Spain, and Bordeaux! There is also an option to take a trip to Paris before the program starts, which I highly recommend doing! Pau also have a unique history as it has its own castle that you can tour.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
There is a week break in the fall and spring for school. I highly recommend using the break to travel around Europe as much as possible! If you're brave enough, I recommend a solo trip!
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Hannah
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cultural immersion !

Pau is the perfect city for cultural immersion. It is small enough to get to know locals while being big enough to have lots to explore. Also, it is situated next to the Basque region which has a very unique culture! The program includes fun excursions. However, if you are looking to travel to major European cities it is expensive to travel in and out of Pau because the airport is so small. But if you’re looking to stay in the south west, Bordeaux and Toulouse are easy to get to! As well as coastal cities like Biarritz and San-Sebastián. The courses through USAC were extremely easy, so don’t plan on having too much homework or needing to study often. Lastly, the weather was amazing in the fall up until early November which made it easy to explore the outdoor activities Pau has to offer.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Become a regular at bars and restaurants to meet local friends!
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Quinnlan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cute and cozy town with a run down university

I had the wonderful experience of studying in Pau, France. This city may be small but it is full of many things to do and see! From the Boulevard de Pyrenees, white water rafting, the Tour de France tribute, city center which holds many concerts, festivals, markets, and more, along with being perfectly situated right next to Spain and many popular tourist areas in the south of France! I can proudly say my French has improved greatly since I first arrived on campus, but I do have to admit that the campus is very old and is very behind technology wise. Although the city of Pau is quite beautiful with its palm trees and stone walkways, the campus is full of weeds and the buildings are old and don't even have air conditioning or fans (which I learned is the case in most buildings and homes in France!). Also, I was put under the impression that no one in Pau speaks English, which is far from the truth. Almost every single person I talked to knew at least a few words in English and could get by with it if you were confused. On another note, I am an avid hiker and was also told that Pau is very close to the Pyrenees. Although Pau may be an hour's drive from the nearest point of the Mountains, this is only by car. Only being able to use public transportation, it is pretty much impossible to get to the mountains by yourself. I am happy to say that the university offers a hiking course that I was able to sign up for that drove students to the mountains for about a 15 euro fee. At the end of the day, Pau is a great place to spend your time studying abroad and being put into a French atmosphere with friendly people!

What would you improve about this program?
The university definitely needs some updating! The coursework was great, but the buildings and campus itself were subpar.
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Kylie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pau, France

Pau is a wonderful little city—it’s not a rural village or a big city, but a great middle ground of the two. It’s a great place to study as the academics are intense but fun, and it’s also a central area from which you can travel to multiple areas: for example, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Biarritz, St Jean de Luz, Lourdes, the Pyrenees and multiple cities in Spain are all within three hours of Pau. The Pyrenees offer incredible views and beautiful areas which are all accessible in Pau. For travel, however, you have to really figure out the public transportation system. It is fairly cheap, but because it is run by the government, it can be subject to strikes or delays with no notice; however, overall it was still an effective way to get around. Pau itself is a quiet city, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to go clubbing every night. But if you want to learn the French language, make great friends, explore the world or just live abroad for a semester, I would definitely recommend Pau.

What would you improve about this program?
No improvements necessary, the program is great.
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Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Im-Pau-rtant Experience

I went on a study abroad to Pau, France and it changed my life. I met and studied with people of all ages and all nationalities and got to learn about each of their cultures. I lived with a hist family with whom I developed a great respect and love for the French lifestyle - we did everything together from travelling to cooking to going on casual picnics and strolls in the park - my favorite memory. I got to travel and see the world and experience all types of cultures and people. After the program, I desperately want to go back and make a career for myself in France one day. I’d advise future abroad students to never be afraid to speak! Use your language skills at the market, the restaurant, etc!

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure everyone has as great a host family and teacher as I did
Kristan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pau Tips

I had no idea what to expect going into this trip, which is the reason I’m writing this review. First of all, Pau is an adorable town that has a cute town center and public transportation running through every corner of the city, so I wouldn’t worry about that. The program heads will literally walk everyone to the station where you buy bus passes if you need them. My husband and I lived ~15 minutes away from campus and we walked everyday and were fine! We went for the Fall semester, and the weather was absolutely perfect the entire time. It rains a little, but we loved that. Also, if you go during the summer, be aware that almost no places have air conditioning! Only the movie theater will provide you with come cool air, and movie tickets are really cheap. This program is excellent at taking you on excursions and showing you important French places and history. Go on EVERY excursion and free tour that you can! Even if it’s in French and you’re not that confident! Be ready to make friends because you will attend each excursion with the same people. However, while these people are from all over the United States (and probably have differing cultures), it’s a little easy to only hang out with other Americans and not branch out (as far as social life goes). And that’s not really the point of studying abroad, so socialize with French people and other foreigners! They’re all very nice. That brings me to my favorite aspect of this program, which is the fact that everyone takes a Language Placement test at the beginning of the semester and is matched up with all other foreigners in that school at the same level (except for European students from Erasmus). In my class, there were people from Russia, Japan, Austrailia, Iraq, Brazil, Ghana, and more! We saw each other everyday and we created intense bonds. This was my favorite part of the whole experience, I will never forget those relationships. That said, I do wish I would’ve socialized with more French kids my age, but they already seem to have their own friends at school so they’re harder to approach—Be brave! The teachers are incredibly nice and the classes are VERY manageable. It’s very easy to get straight A’s, (if you do the homework), so don’t worry about that. Don’t worry if you can’t understand your teacher on the first day, you’ll be able to understand every word s/he says by the end of the semester. Almost all host family experiences I heard of were positive, but every single story about living in the dorms was also positive. Other foreigners live in the dorms and that can create even more friend opportunities. Plan a few trips before hand, but you don’t have to book every single thing because plans will change and maybe you’ll want to follow a friend group going to a specific place on the weekend. Try to travel every weekend!! See as much as you can. Consult RyanAir and Flixbus for everything!! Also the trains are very nice and stop through Pau. Learning French will happen if you just try to communicate. Yes, it will be hard and awkward, but once you do it you will gain confidence. Last tip: Get excited to study abroad!! This will give you memories to last a lifetime.

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps more organization and specific schedules from the USAC office—when we arrived we had no idea where to go for events and didn’t understand that USAC was separated from other foreigners and the host students.
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Clay
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pau 2016

USAC Pau was an incredible experience. I had the oppoturnity to study abroad twice once with Kent State University in Florence, Italy and with USAC in Pau, France. I felt that I had a better experience in Florence because of the housing location in the center of Florence. The only downside to USAC Pau is that the dorms are located farther from the city center. Public transit is a great option but not necessarily reliable as the French workers often strike leaving the busses not in operation. The staff is wonderful and the location is fantastic. If you are able to travel on the weekends, you have many options! Bordeaux, Bayonne, Biarritz, Lourdes, Barcelona, Toulouse, Lyons, Paris you name it!! The food is wonderful as well! Try foie gras (a local speciality) and the local wine Jurançon. Excellent trip and would absolutely recommend!

What would you improve about this program?
It would be wonderful if housing was downtown.
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Robyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Packing Light ;)
Natalie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Uli
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

Bridget
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Matthew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.