Here’s what Spring Students Are Saying About AUCP Study Abroad!

Here’s what Spring Students Are Saying About AUCP Study Abroad!


We said farewell to our class of Spring 2015 just last week. But before they said their last goodbyes to the South of France, we asked AUCP students to share five adjectives to describe their experience abroad. Enriching, challenging, inspiring and fun are all words that came back for many of our students. Discover the rest in the word cloud above!

And that’s not all – Spring students also shared specifics about what they thought of the many key elements of the AUCP Study Abroad model. Here’s what Spring students had to say!


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THE AUCP EXPERIENCE, OVERALL

AUCP is a challenge, but it’s worthwhile. Think hard about your expectations and goals for studying abroad–if you are passionate about improving your French and experiencing the French culture, AUCP is the program for you.

– Kate Francis, Barnard College, Full Year 2014-2015

I don’t think there are words (in any language) to describe how wonderful my AUCP experience was. At times, especially in the beginning, it was HARD. There were times I thought that I hated France, French people, and anything to do with French culture. But in the end, I learned so much about myself. I learned for the first time in my life that I could feel completely content, that I could create an environment of loving friends and (host) family around me, all without a single comfort from home by my side. I could travel alone, stay in youth hostels, get lost, get myself found, take public transportation, speak up for myself, speak a second language with ease, make reservations – all by myself. I also developed a love for this country that I will miss more than anything when I leave; there will always be a piece of my heart aching to come back to France. This was four months of absolute paradise, and the best four months of my life so far. I feel so lucky.

– Rachael Conway, Linfield College, Spring 2015

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THE SETTING

Aix is the ideal ville d’accueil— it’s small enough that you can know it inside and out by the end of the semester and that you will cross (croiser) people you know in the street, but not small enough to be claustrophobic or suffocating. If art history and  hiking are your thing, Cezanne’s workshop and the famous St. Victoire mountain are just minutes away. If you prefer the beach and a change of scenery, Marseille and the calanques are just 30 minutes away by bus! Aix also has a vibrant student population that keeps the city feeling young and energetic– a great place to call home for a semester or a year.

– Stefani Priskos, Barnard College, Full Year 2014-2015

Not only is Aix beautiful, but it provides the ideal environment for a truly immersive experience–no one will speak English with you here! It’s small enough that you can feel at home and really claim it as your own city, and still large enough that you can constantly discover new things. De plus, the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is one of the most beautiful in the world–to the north are the Alps, the south the Mediterranean, and in the middle, charming villages and renowned vineyards!

– Kate Francis, Barnard College, Full Year 2014-2015

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THE INDIVIDUAL HOMESTAY

My host mom Lucette is such a wonderful lady. She helped me out through the difficult transition from English to French. She was the one I felt most comfortable speaking French to because she was understanding even if she didn’t quite understand… She also never hesitated to invite me to dinner parties or days out with her adorable grandchildren. She made me feel like her home was mine too. The first time I called the apartment « chez nous » Lucette smiled the biggest smile I had seen all semester. I think the homestay portion of this program is a key component to the success of the students.

– Mamie Fennimore, Fordham University, Spring 2015

My host family was, without a doubt, the best part of my semester in France. One year, five years, or ten years from now, all the beautiful things that I have seen and done, the homework I did in my classes here, and the delicious food that I ate will only be faint memories. However, I will think of the members of my host family all the time, because it was with them that I found a truly deep sense of happiness. Our dinners followed by lively discussions, the nights we all played board games together, looking through my host parents’ wedding album, laughing until we cried: these are the memories that will stay close to my heart forever. When I leave here, I will miss Aix. I will miss my French and American friends. I will miss my little town of Le Tholonet, the constant sunshine, the AUCP, and even the bus I take each day to and from school (the 13). But it is saying goodbye to this family that will make me cry for a long, long time, tears of both happiness and sadness for all that they have given me and all that I am leaving behind. It was this family who gave me a real taste of France, of Provence, and it is because of them that I know, no matter what it takes, that I must return to France one day (and hopefully soon).

– Rachael Conway, Linfield College, Spring 2015

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COMMUNITY SERVICE

Throughout the semester, Restos du Coeur slowly became the highlight of my week. I worked as a tutor to local kids around age 10 who needed homework help after school. As the only Anglophone there, I was warmly accepted from day one and quickly found my niche bouncing around from student to student who had English homework that day. By the third week, the boys would greet me at the door with their fist extended seeking a « pound-and-lock-it-down » and the girls would be ready with questions about the lyrics to a new English song they heard on the radio. None of my coursework at AUCP adequately prepared me for explaining the lyrics to Justin Beiber’s « Baby » to a 10-year-old Moroccan girl in French.

– John Oberg, Villanova University, Spring 2015

The community service requirement was one of the highlights of my AUCP experience! I really enjoy doing community service and volunteering back in the US, so I was excited to have the opportunity to give back my host community! Each Wednesday, I joined members of the Croix Rouge (Red Cross) at a local nursing home to play Trivial Pursuit with the residents. Not only did I get to practice my French pronunciation reading the cards out loud–I learned a lot of French trivia, as well!

– Stefani Priskos, Barnard College, Full Year 2014-2015

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LANGUAGE PARTNERS

The language partner aspect of the program was a great way to meet French students! My AUCP classmates and I ended up spending a lot of time with some of our new friends, inviting them to come out with us on Friday nights or just meeting up at cafés to chat. I definitely felt more integrated into the community when I could say I was hanging out with people from outside of my program who weren’t just from other American schools.

– Elizabeth Silvia, Providence College, Spring 2015

If you put yourself out there with your language partners, they will respond with welcoming. They always seem to be in the know, which bars to go to, which to avoid, when there’s a big match on and how to find space at a bar to watch it. Early on in the semester, David invited me to his apartment to watch the Superbowl (which started at 12:30am). He truly made an effort to make me feel at home; he was ready to go and was enthusiastic about learning the game, even in the wee hours of the morning.

– John Oberg, Villanova University, Spring 2015

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AUCP IN-HOUSE CLASSES

I loved all of my classes here at the AUCP. They of course were difficult at first but as the semester moved along our French improved and so did my opinion of the courses. Grammar with Elodie was so useful for me and she never hesitated to answer questions or repeat something over and over until the whole class understood completely. Jean-Mi is one of the best professors I have ever had in college. He is so passionate about what he does and that really comes through during his classes. Jean-Do is extremely intelligent and a wealth of historical knowledge. Lastly, Joel always makes wine class fun!

– Mamie Fennimore, Fordham University, Spring 2015

My classes at the AUCP were great. I fully understand now why there are two required classes, because French Cultural Patterns gives you indispensable context and information that helps to reframe and understand everything you experience here, while Linguistic Strategies seeks to improve your grammatical and oral skills by studying vocabulary and tricky grammar topics. Alongside those I took two great literature courses, which were very well taught, as well as La Société Française, which taught me more about French society and its sociopolitical context. The courses were challenging, but the topics were interesting and the teachers passionately informed – which makes all the difference.

– Jermaine Stewart-Webb, Grinnell College, Spring 2015

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PERSONAL INTEREST ACTIVITY

I participated in a weekly open mic night at Coco Bohème, a really cool tea café where I sang along with two other friends. It was a really fun and casual environment where we got to meet a lot of French musicians and improvise along with them! I always had an awesome time, and other AUCP-ers would come and support us, which was great too!

– Liz Silvia, Providence College, Spring 2015

Who wouldn’t want to take sewing classes in France?

– Jada Hawkins, Barnard College, Spring 2015

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FRENCH CUISINE COOKING CLASS

 

Cooking with chef Bruno was a nice experience; he was a really warm and loving and made learning how to cook a blast! Personally, I didn’t know how to cook before that class. Now, I can say that I have picked up some tips and skills that can applied to my own way of cooking and living once I begin to live on my own.

– Jermaine Stewart-Webb, Grinnell College, Spring 2015

The cooking class was so much fun! Chef Bruno is hilarious; the time passed with him in the kitchen was a pure joy, even for someone who can hardly cook a sandwich (like myself) and who was intimidated to take the class. DO IT – you won’t regret it! And eating the dinners afterwards with great conversation all throughout is one of my favorite memories here.

– Rachael Conway, Linfield College, Spring 2015

 


Want to see what past semester students have said about the AUCP? Check out this video of our Fall 2014 students, talking about their AUCP experience. Or, dive into this blog post with more testimonials from past students.