USAC France: Pau

Video and Photos

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

Questions & Answers

Reviews

93%
based on 28 reviews
  • Academics 8.4
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.7
  • Housing 8.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 16 - 28 of 28
Default avatar
Madeline
8/10

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
Default avatar
seanna
10/10

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
Default avatar
Erin
9/10

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
Default avatar
Alexis
10/10

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
Default avatar
Abergavenny
9/10

Pau: An Immersion in Basque Country

My stay in Pau was nourishing and challenging. It is absolutely necessary to stay with a host family to truly experience the magic of Southwestern French cuisine, culture, and tradition. Each meal with my host Mom and her guests was a lesson in patience, process, and how to truly indulge the senses with each bite while participating in the communal process of making the food, setting the table, and sharing jokes and stories with friends old and new. The wide sidewalks of Pau lead to wandering, and the Boulevard Des Pyrenees is an unavoidable enchantment. I am sure that everyone who visits spends some time drinking in the view of sunset, sunrise, storm or sunny day all spread out in front of those majestic mysterious mountains that sometimes disappear in the fog.
Pau is not only extremely accessible by foot and bike, but there is a bus system that runs throughout the surrounding towns and can get you to and from school/the grocery store/the market/the pubs etc. The people of Pau vary from the very rich, to the groups that wander the streets with their dogs. I found both, and all those in between, to be welcoming and accommodating to students.
The program itself helped my French immensely and is not only a study of the language, but of the very spirit, soul, and practices of France.

How can this program be improved?
I think that the program provided good support and the classes were engaging and active. I think one way the program could improve is to make more of an effort to facilitate constructive communal activities with the citizens of Pau, and not just the students who attend the university. This is a catch 22 though, because I believe that it is important students go out on their own to make these connections.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Katie
8/10

A semester in Pau

I would recommend going to Pau if you want to study abroad in a non-touristy city where you get a real and authentic experience in French language and culture. I stayed with a host family, which made my experience even better. The USAC staff is incredible and really made sure we felt comfortable. Pau is also very close to Spain which makes a fun weekend trip!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Nadeen
9/10

Pau is like a home away from home and provides culture, comfort and fun.

In any study abroad experience, there are at least a million favorite memories. But, some things that I carried back with me are the many friends I made when I was gone- Americans and foreigners. USAC does a wonderful job of creating programs that allow students to travel a lot. I fell in love with about 10 different cities. One of my favorite memories was the day I realized I could live in any one of the places I visited. Finally, the thing I miss the most was having a daily routine of my life abroad. Being gone for the year allowed me to really get comfortable with Pau. Establishing a routine and getting comfortable with my new life was my favorite part. The obvious benefit to studying abroad is that I now have a solid foundation of French. Being abroad anywhere can teach a lot, but something that stuck out for me was my ability to be flexible. It was difficult at times having to adjust to something that was unfamiliar or bizarre. It would be difficult not always being able to communicate and sometimes there was straight frustration and anger with the whole situation. Small cultural differences can prove to be the biggest difficulties when studying abroad. Those moments were important though because it taught me flexibility and patience.

How can this program be improved?
I would have really liked to have more of a background about the classes we would be taking. I realize that there is no perfect system for informing students about the classes they will be taking or the format. However, had a known about the basics of the class, I think I would have been able to prepare better.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Claudia
10/10

My adventures in Pau

Living in Pau was one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. I was able to try different foods and wines and immerse myself in French culture. One of the most memorable experiences for me was the nights of Carnaval in Pau. It is like no other event in the world. There are traditions in this Carnaval where men dress as women and women dress and hunters. The women are dressed as hunters to chase down people who are in bear costumes and are hunting the men dressed as women. This night was an amazing night where everyone watched and ran from the bears providing for a "different" kind of excitement only those who have gone to Pau would understand the partying that goes on in this little town during Carnaval. The week of Carnaval is something you cannot miss out if you visit Pau in the spring.

If I talk about the fun moments in Pau I also must highlight the cross cultural differences between France and the United States that we would never think about. Most of my experiences are funny moments that at first I did not understand but now I laugh over. An example would be when I first arrived to France and was just adjusting to the time difference and I was running late to school. On this day I did not have time to eat at my host parents' house so I ran out eating an apple on my walk to school. As I walked to school people stared at me and I did not know why. It was not until I asked my host mom why people stared at me she told me and I quote "Claudia, tu n'est pas en États-Unis" meaning Claudia you are not in America, in France people do not eat while they walk they only eat if they are sitting at a table. For me this was strange but now it is funny to remember people's reactions to me eating an apple it was --PRICELESS.

Now when it comes to the educational aspect the USAC Pau program is a very well organized and provides students with everything you need. The resident director Robina and assistant director Ryan are awesome people who you can joke around with and give good tips about things to do and places to go not only in Pau but around France, and Europe. The classes were provided in both French and English depending on the level of proficiency. There were elective courses such as the Government and Politics of France that fit well with my major in International Relations. They also offered other courses but mostly the focus of this study abroad program are intensive language courses to improve students level of French rather than pure electives. Classes are small and teachers are very helpful but strict as well so do not think you can just slack off either.

How can this program be improved?
Try to stay for a full year in Pau I really recommend it because a semester is just not enough. I loved everything in Pau, but there are somethings to get used to like everything closing at 7pm so no late night grocery shopping if you forgot something.

Also on a side not for girls, do not wear sweat pants or any active gear that you think is "cute" and wore back at your home university because in France that is a major "faux pas"!! Women in France are always dressed to impress.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sarah
10/10

Pau is the Place to Go!

If you're thinking about doing this program, I have two words - DO IT! My time in Pau was seriously the best 4 months of my life. My host family was amazing, perfectly picked for me. We got along great and I really felt like I was a part of their family. I was able to see what real French life is like, and my language skills improved so quickly. Classes with USAC are good quality and fun, but not overly work heavy, so you have time to travel and enjoy your time abroad. I got to see a lot of really cool places, through both personal travel and USAC and Université field trips. Not many people know where Pau is, but I ended up loving the city and region. I only have one complaint: I had to leave after only 4 months!

How can this program be improved?
I would stay longer.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lhober
10/10

AMAZING! Go, go, go!

I had the best host family. I had the best teachers and the best USAC staff helping me the entire time. I met amazing people, who I am still in contact with, and I saw places, sites and art I had only read about. I recommend going abroad in the first place, but I recommend Pau if you're looking for an authentic French experience. I walked to a local bakery every morning with my host father so we could buy the bread for breakfast. I played with the small hedgehogs that were in my host father's garden while he pulled mint for our tea later. I took a bus to school every day and had a 20 minutes coffee break every two hours.
This place is drenched in culture and history. King Henry IV's castle is a 10 minute walk from the university and a two minutes walk from the center of town. There's parks everywhere you look and a French language to be learned.

Bring your walking shoes!

How can this program be improved?
Seriously, I wish I stayed longer. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I excelled in the language, the resident directors, Robina and Ryan, are always there and welcoming, and I had the best host family in the world. They help you set everything up and the classes are actually fun.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Ma
10/10

An authentic French experience

I learned so much French during my semester! I made friends with locals, international students, and other Americans; all of whom i still keep in contact with. I was able to travel all over Europe. I feel like i got exceptional value for what i paid.

How can this program be improved?
Stayed longer
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Student
10/10

Amazing summer spent in Pau

The professors were wonderful and made sure that we received the best possible learning experience. The staff abroad was wonderful and extremely helpful. They took us on amazing field trips to places that most tourists do not get the chance to see. I met many friends and it was the most wonderful summer I have ever experienced!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
freefalling
6/10

Small Study Abroad

I ended up being really disappointed with the program in Pau for a number of reasons. I was looking for an authentic French experience, but I never dreamed it would be the dreary life I was presented with. I felt the program had really misrepresented the size and style of Pau and I was shocked at how small it really was once I got there. It rained every day, and with a 40 minute walk into the "center" of town, many days I was stuck inside my apartment alone. People in Pau were very closed off and cold, as one can expect from the French, but Pau held a different degree of small town hostility. There were little to no forms of entertainment outside of movies and travel, but travel was very expensive and inconvenient due to Pau's location and size. A lot of students who had different interests loved it, but if you're looking for a life changing experience abroad then this is not the program for you.

No, I don't recommend

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

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...