CUPA (Center for University Programs Abroad)
CUPA acts primarily as a liaison between students visiting Paris and the French educational system, facilitating registration and grade transfer with a wide range of universities. Students are allowed to take courses at multiple French universities simultaneously, allowing for a diverse and demanding academic experience. Courses are also offered at the CUPA offices in Montparnasse, as well as linguistic tutoring and academic support. CUPA is a primarily hands-off program, allowing students to determine how involved they wish to be in the group community, and how independent they will be during their stay in Paris. Group outings are offered, but are not mandatory. Students visiting Paris through CUPA will undergo an intense 3 week orientation program prepping language skills, familiarizing students with the French pedagogical methodology, and providing guidelines for independent life in the city. Students choosing CUPA should already be proficient in French, as all CUPA business is conducted with a 'French only' policy, and the program is focused on total immersion. Aside from check-in appointments with staff, CUPA students are expected to be highly self-sufficient and autonomous. Students are offered the opportunity to live with a host family assigned by the program, or on their own. Students who wish to live independently must make their own arrangements.
Further info can be found at: CUPA Paris
When it comes to CUPA, there is no better. The program rocked, and the in-house class was the best I took. However, the Parisian university systems seriously pales and disappoints in comparison to Reed. My academic expectations were not met. However, I think this might have had something to do with the fact that my expectations were too high, and also, as a result of having more free time than usual, I was able to freely explore Paris much more.
The classes at CUPA varied, but all were helpful in different ways. Art History was fun and interesting, and the writing class was helpful, but boring. The teachers are all good, and the CUPA staff is incredibly helpful with everything, especially with help writing papers. The Parisian Universities were typical of large universities, there was little help or support, but my classes were good and I learned a lot. My French, both written and spoken, greatly improved. I learned about the French culture, and through my observances and conversations, also learned more about the American culture. Aside from that, I gained experience, perspective, maybe a little maturity, and a lot of confidence. I learned about what is really important in life.
The program began with a three week orientation that dealt with language proficiency, methodology, and cultural exposure. When term began (in early october), students could take classes (3 to 5 usually) at a variety of institutions. CUPA offered three courses itself. Otherwise students had access to courses in a wide range of subjects (though mostly in the arts and humanities) at a number of institutions in Paris. The teaching style in most of these classes was lecture orientated (rather than conference or seminar) and very independent in terms of "home work." Schedules and academic experiences could vary greatly depending on the institutions one chose to attend, and this was made clear by the administrators at CUPA. It is the most common warning or critique of this program, and of studying abroad in general, but it is very important to be prepared for the fact that academics are conducted very differently over there. It's a good idea to have lots of personal goals, academic and non academic, to avoid losing motivation or becoming depressed by the absence of a real academic community.