Sarah Lawrence Paris Exchange:
The Sarah Lawrence exchange program in Paris allows students to take courses both through their program, as well as at many universities throughout Paris. Students interested in the visual and performing arts will have the opportunity to study at prestigious French academies in the field, in conjunction with the exchange's intensive programs. This program is more grounded in a group community than the other Parisian programs, involving more academic guidance and cultural outings. All students are expected to speak in french during group activities, which can provide a comfortable introduction and upkeep to language skills and French culture. All courses conducted through the program are exclusively held in French, and a three week orientation period is required at the beginning of the semester. The program will assist students who wish to live independently by aiding in the organization of housing, as well as matching students with host-families.
Further info can be found at: http://www.slc.edu/international-exchange/paris/index.html
The academics were well balanced. I definitely had to be attentive to my workload, but was not so busy as spend all of my time in libraries. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the majority of my classes thought the mandatory writing comp class got to be a hassle. I liked my neighborhood but wish I could have had a chance to look at other apartments in the area. We signed our lease within two days of arrival and were completely shell-shocked. That said, I'm not entirely sure of how to remedy such an arrangement. Perhaps staying in the dorm-like Cite Universitaire until you felt more settled and comfortable to find an apartment. My french has improved and I have an experiential sense of familiarity with french culture. It was great to get away from Reed for a year because now that I'm back I'm excited to be here. Having to deal with the amoebic french university system taught me just how great our cozy lil' college is. And having studied in another language makes the return to english that much more fun.
The one-on-one meetings with the professors helped me plan my projects and gain a better grasp on the material learned during class. The instructors were helpful in terms of my compositions and my comprehension and application of french grammar. I lived in a very very small studette in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. It was furnished with hot plates, a sink, a mattress, and a bathroom. However, each living environment was different for each student. I purchased all my food from grocery stores or on the street during the day. My french composition improved immensely. My speaking ability also noticeably improved. I, of course gained the perspective of interacting in a different culture, which, I would hope that all study-abroad students gain. It was great to get a change of environment from the reed campus and meet new kids. I learned how to live in a big city...something i'd never known how to do before.
Sarah Lawrence seminars were generally good. The choice of outside professors to administer the tutorat part of the Paris University courses seemed fairly arbitrary, but didn't cause any disasters while I was there. When Sarah Lawrence sends out the descriptions of apartments they intend to place students in, they should be more specific. I talked about this directly with Marta Dansie in the Paris office, and she was in the process of changing it when I left. Nothing compares to the intensity and intellectual stimulation of a Reed education. If I were to do this again, I would take a year off to spend in another environment, but without an academic focus. I wish I had those two semesters to take Reed classes, not the vaguely interesting classes in Paris that mostly interfered with the time I wanted to spend getting to know the city and the art world in Paris, the main purpose of my year there.