France: Lyon - French Language, Art History, and Francophone Studies

Video and Photos

Saône River
Saône River
River Cruise
River Cruise
Rhône River
Rhône River
Tourist Shenanigans
Tourist Shenanigans
Laughter beside La Tour Eiffel
Laughter beside La Tour Eiffel
Place des Jacobins in Lyon.
Orientation includes a city tour. Here the group is at Place Bellecour
Orientation includes a city tour. Here the group is at Place Bellecour
Only Lyon
Only Lyon

About

Lyon is one of the most attractive cities in France, creating a fresh combination of the bustle of a large European city and the simplicity of French tradition. The Lyon semester and yearlong program offers an intensive language approach at L’Université Lumière Lyon 2, where you will be able to earn up to 12 credits of French in one semester. Depending upon your language level, you will choose electives in culture, political science, cinema, economics, or literature taught specifically for USAC students. The University itself also offers the opportunity to enroll in courses with French students, taught in either English or French.

Highlights
  • Live in France’s third-largest city, home to an international mix of people and architecture from over two millennia
  • Study intensive French language, from Second-Year French and up, and an array of electives taught in both French and English
  • Enjoy field trips to the French Alps and Bourgogne
  • Take the optional tour through Provence including visits to Orange, Avignon, Arles and the Mediterranean coast
  • Walk or bike along the banks of the scenic Rhône and Saône rivers; take weekend trips to ski or snowboard in the French Alps; enjoy some of Lyon’s famous home-style cooking; explore shops and make international friends

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

Hi Emily, 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 [email protected] Thank you!

Reviews

93%
based on 13 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 9
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 8.5
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 13 of 13
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Jaime
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lyon in Fall 2018

My semester was incredible and I had so much fun studying abroad. I was able to see so much of not only a France but all of Europe for a decently affordable price. I enjoyed the freedom of staying in a dorm, but those who lived with host families had an even more enhanced experience and I feel like it’s a better way to learn the culture and language. Classes were difficult to get used to at first, but I really loved most of my professors and I learned so much. I wish I tried a little harder to meet other French students on campus, but I definitely made great friends with people in my program. The excursions organized by USAC were some of the highlights of my semester and I always felt safe and supported. If you can, definitely go on the optional tour at the beginning of the semester! It is totally worth it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don’t be nervous to speak the language to locals. Most everyone will speak English, but they appreciate it more if you make an effort to communicate with them in French. Also, have an open mind! Consider the cultural differences and don’t judge people if they don’t act in ways you’re used to.
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Winter
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A once in a lifetime opportunity!

Studying abroad in general is something that I feel like everyone should do if they have the opportunity! I learned so much about myself as a person, and I also grew substantially in the 5 months I was in Lyon. I learned more about the world and the role that I hope to play in it in the future. I also got to see things that I may have never had to opportunity to see otherwise. I am one of the first people in my family to actually leave the country and travel over seas.
I think the best part of my experience was living with host family. They were some of the nicest people I have ever met, and they took me in, and treated me as though I was their own child. My host mom also made the best food, which I now miss very much being back home in the US. Lastly, it was the best thing I could have done in order to expand my knowledge of the French language. It is nice to know that should I ever need it, I have the ability to at least get through a simple conversation with someone who speaks French.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The scariest thing for me about studying abroad was traveling alone. For my Spring Break, I wanted to go to Spain and Italy, but most of my friends who I was studying in Lyon with had already been there, so they didn't want to go back. Therefore, if I really wanted to go that bad, I had to travel by myself. I was really nervous that I would be abducted, or that I wouldn't be able to figure out how to travel from one place to another, or use the public transportation system in those two countries. But, I told myself this is your one chance to go to these places, so I just told myself that nothing bad would happen and I went for it. In the end everything turned out fine. I wasn't kidnapped or abducted. I didn't miss any flights, or trains, and it ended up being my favorite week of my time abroad. I got to do and see everything that I wanted, without having others holding me back. I would highly recommend solo-traveling for anyone who is abroad, or traveling in general.
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Alexa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Personal Experience

How I wish I could go back right this moment. I don't even know where to start in terms of giving this program and this city a positive review. The city of Lyon is absolutely beautiful and unique. There is a wonderful community of people. On any sunny day, the Lyonnais took to the parks and really any grassy area. The USAC members were very helpful and gave us all ease of mind when going to a foreign country. This was my first time out of the United States, and having them around made me feel more comfortable about everything. The people I met in my classes and outside of my classes were memorable. You learn so much about various cultures throughout the world. Overall, it was an absolutely amazing experience that I will continue to cherish.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I did not realize that the word "cru" meant raw. So, I unknowingly ordered tartare, which was basically raw meat with a sauce drizzled over it. It's a popular dish in France, but I was so clueless and unprepared. I ate half of it and had to stop.
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Ronald
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

USAC Lyon - Summer 2018

The staff in Lyon was amazing, for they always helped us out with anything we needed help with and encouraged us to get involved with the community especially with the World Cup going on and a lot of summer related activities. The trip to Annecy, France was amazing as well. My favorite part of the program was the optional tour of Paris for the first week of the summer program. The courses were structured more to focus on making communication in French. It was just a unique set up having classes that had projects to encourage communication as opposed to just receiving a textbook. Lyon is a beautiful town with a lot of culture, food, and activities to get involved in. It's also easy to take trips from Lyon to Geneva, Marseilles, and the northwestern areas of Italy. I highly recommend if you go on a summer program to Lyon that you do two sessions instead of one!

What would you improve about this program?
A better explanation of the courses' structure through the host university prior to arrival. Along with this, I think more opportunities to have group meals and group activities with everyone in the USAC group would be beneficial.
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Jenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Home

I studied in Lyon for the 2017-2018 academic year, and I wish I never had to leave. My experience was unique in that I was a year long student so I was able to make longer lasting connection to the city and people. It was a learning experience getting use to the different university environment, in that, most classes were two hours long and the learning curriculum was different. After the adjustment period, I loved learning the language with other international students in the CIEF program. By going with USAC, it provided a support system that you wouldn't have had otherwise. They were there from helping with classes to helps or just another person to talk to. Overall, this was one of the best experiences of my life, from the people I met to living in the city I call my second home. I am waiting for a way to get back to Lyon.

What would you improve about this program?
During my time, there was a bit of unorganization within the program, I've since realized that this is one of USAC's newer programs and is only a couple years old so they are still working out some of the kinks.
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Natalie
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A gorgeous city and mostly positive experience!

I absolutely love Lyon! It's a wonderful location that is beautiful, central, large enough to get all of the benefits of living in a big city, yet much smaller than overcrowded cities like Paris or New York. If you're looking to study here, I would definitely recommend it!

Going through the USAC Program was a little complicated since the classes and grading are not the same as what you sign up for. You basically sign up for classes, then are integrated into Université Lumière Lyon 2's CIEF (Centres International d'Études Françaises) courses that are built to prepare for entrance into a French university. You are broken up into levels (A1-C2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), then you attend those courses (11 classes of 1 hour 45 minutes per week) with foreign students working towards a B2 or C1 DELF/DALF. It was hard work, and for me, Monday through Friday. Some days were so long that my body ached for sitting for hours at a time. It was also difficult to travel during weekends because of the late classes scheduled for Fridays and early classes scheduled for Mondays (they discourage skipping courses, but I definitely needed to sometimes). You can tell that this is an intensive program made for those who are seriously working towards the language skills to integrate into a French university, and since it was not my goal, it was a little difficult to remain motivated sometimes.

I would say that, overall, Lyon is a great study abroad city with a vibrant social scene for young adults, but I was less than impressed with Lyon 2's CIEF program.

What would you improve about this program?
I feel like something through the Alliance Française de Lyon or another language-learning program would be great, or even just teaching the classes that we signed up for in the first place would be the best, but I understand if that is not possible. I heard about so many great programs in other European countries that only had 3 or 4-day school weeks that suited travel and fun a lot more than this one, so I was kind of disappointed. But the strikingly beautiful city and central location made up for some of that!
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Jacob
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Student City

The city was great for university aged students. There was a lot of night life, museums, and coffee shops. Also, the public transportation was very accessible and easy to use. Because it is one of the major cities it was also easy to travel to other parts of the country and continent. Along with this, there was a problem with theft when out in the city. The school had a great staff that was ready to help me learn.

What would you improve about this program?
Give more information at the beginning on how our language level will be evaluated.
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Brenna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lyon: An Experience

I had an absolute blast in Lyon. I met a ton of really interesting people from around the world in my courses, and made life long friends. I had a great time with my host family! There are many options for transportation but everything was close enough I chose to walk most everywhere! It was an absolutely incredible experience, and lyon is an amazing city to live in: great food, lots of amazing art, and an overall buzz of a fantastic place to be.

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Mary Kate
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lyonnaise [lee-ō-nez] (noun, adj): a person from, or a characteristic of, the city of Lyon, France

Imagine strolling along a river, almond croissant in hand, on your way to class. That was me, just a few short months ago. I always dreamed of living in France, fully immersing myself in the language and culture. USAC made that happen for me. I studied abroad in Lyon, France for five months in the spring of 2017. I had never heard of Lyon before, but after one interest meeting, I was on board.

Fast forward a few months and I was on a plane to France.I lived with a host family for the total duration of my stay, and it was one of the greatest decisions I made. My French dad was outgoing and goofy, always putting on a show, and my French mom was sweet and relaxed. I also had a 17-year old French brother, with whom I watched the newest Star Wars movie dubbed in French during my first week. We ate meals together almost every night, speaking entirely in French, which pulled me out of my comfort zone and significantly improved my language skills.

French professors at the university taught the majority of my classes, and my classmates were international students from countries in North & South America, Asia, and Africa. It was tempting to speak in English with fellow Americans, so the professors grouped the Anglophones and non-Anglophones together, making sure that we were only communicating in French. I worked on long-term projects with natives from Colombia and Ghana, which gave me an even greater intercultural experience.

USAC provided two field trips over the course of the semester. The first was a ski trip in the French Alps and the second was a tour of the Beaujolais wine region. Both trips allowed me to get to know students who were not in my classes and explore the beauty and various cultural aspects of France. USAC also offered opportunities to volunteer with English Clubs at French school. I ventured out to a French school once a week and organized activities for a group of middle school students wishing to improve their English.

Lyon was such a beautiful city to live in, with two rivers running right through the center of the city. The university’s campus is situated next to one of them, making it easy to enjoy a lunch or walk by the river in between classes. I participated in Lyon International events, which turned into some of my favorite memories in Lyon. In January we were hosted for a night of wine, cheese, and dancing, which is where I learned that these three foods are considered France's "Holy Trinity" of the table. In May, the group took us on a dinner cruise on the rivers, allowing us to take in the beauty of the city as day turned to night. On the evening before my flight home to the U.S., I attended an Olympique Lyonnais soccer game, realizing that while the French and American definitions of “football” might be different, our team spirits are one and the same.

My experience abroad was one of the greatest times of my life. I was challenged in ways that are not easy to explain, but I have returned to the U.S. with a multitude of new memories and a new perspective of the world. A small part of me will now forever be Lyonnaise.

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Casey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A New Country, a New World

It's hard to condense five months into a short review, but here it goes. For a semester I studied in Lyon, France and lived with a French family. I took an internship USAC offered, teaching high school students English, and spent my days learning in a genuine French classroom with a stereotypical baguette in my bag and a smile on my face - nearly 24/7.
Now I say nearly, because living in a foreign country and speaking a foreign language are not by any means, easy tasks. There are days my head would ache, I would want to hide from language embarrassment, and just want to be in my American bed back home. But that's where USAC came in.
USAC gave me the opportunity to do something entirely out of my comfort zone, with resources, guidance, and program directors who were there for me, every single time I needed them. Those difficulties were turned into moments of growth and I was able to take situations that may have completely shut me down, to opportunities of recognition for how far I had come, and how much I had accomplished. I spent my days challenging myself learning a language I loved, exploring the streets of a stunning city, and making friendships with incredible humans, of all ages and nationalities.
Studying abroad gave me a second family, on the other side of the world, who I still talk to on the daily. My French "Mom" and "Dad" were individuals who truly changed my life - and I would not have been so fortunate to make such a bond if it wasn't for USAC, once again. The person who stepped back onto American soil in May was not the same person who had left it 5 months earlier - the world that opened to me was one that gave me confidence, strength, and a love for challenge and cultural understanding - and I have USAC to thank for it.

What would you improve about this program?
I personally thought the academics of the classes themselves were too easy - but the difficulties of language both at home and outside the courses made it overall a fair balance.
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Rachel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Staff and Peers

USAC and the team in Lyon are great. Josephine is one of the best advisors, great in her ability to mix professionalism and friendliness to aid fellow students in feeling both safe and feeling like they have a confidante as well as a friend. All the staff make you feel very safe and provide the best activities--well thought out and easily available for everyone. I loved the weekend trips with all of the USAC students. It provided a sense of culture and I was able to bond with many other students; friends, I'm coming to find, for life. Many of the people I studied abroad with went on to do much more travel, some participating in the peace corps, Africa, Asia, South America, etc., and others going back to France through TAPIF or other job opportunities, like myself. I would've never felt so independent and capable if not for this program.

What would you improve about this program?
I think because it's a new program it's difficult to have well-known reliable homestays. For me, I had a bad experience with one of my homestays so I believe with more time there will be more reliable and better families for foreigners.
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Rylie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lyon study abroad experience

In Lyon, the French culture was prominent with little to no English. This is the place to study the French language. At the Universite Lyon 2, language courses are taught in French and are extensive- up to 20 hours a week! However, these courses prepare you for real life situations using the French language. There are also clubs, like intramural sports, offered here that give students the opportunity to integrate into the culture. Overall an amazing experience for someone who wanted to improve their language skills.

Jake
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lyon Yearlong

I had an absolute blast from the second that I landed in France. We began our program with an unforgettable field study in Marseille. The organization, helpfulness, and care shown by the staff while at the field study was exceptional and was only a precursor for how my two semesters in Lyon that followed our time in Marseille would go. I loved the time I spent in Lyon with USAC and would recommend it to anyone looking for an authentic French experience.