Paris is usually one of the most popular destinations in Europe that every tourist wants to visit. I visited Paris for the first time at the age of 16. I convinced my dad that my passion for art history could only be fulfilled by visiting Parisian museums.
We stayed in the suburbs of the city, in the quiet town of Melun (where Euro Disneyland was originally meant to be built, but the residents of Melun didn’t accept the proposal) so I couldn’t enjoy the city properly.
Study Abroad at EF Paris – Review
A few years later in 2012, I thought about improving my French so I decided that I should revisit Paris by attending a language school. While there are plenty of language schools in the city, the majority of them are not only expensive, but also provide no accommodation.
Hotels in Paris are extremely pricy and I seriously don’t recommend staying in hostels because they’re both gross and unsafe. In the end this is why I decided to study with EF – Education First language school in Paris, especially because I had good experiences with them in Miami and NYC.
Staying with a host family
I chose the option to stay with a host family with half-board meals, as I wanted to interact with local French people. Unfortunately, I have to say that after my third time choosing this option, I will never do it again. When my host family picked me up from the bus station, I found out that they actually didn’t even live in Paris. Moreover, they lived in a closed gendarmerie (French police) district, so to enter I had to get a special permit!
The family dropped me off and informed me that they’re actually never at home. Not to mention that they fed me with only 1 loaf of toast with only a half slice of cheese per day. After I spent over 2 hours on the train, metro and bus to get to school, I decided to complain. None of the other host families had space so I got a placement at the student residence without extra charge.
Living in a student residence
The location of the EF Paris student residence was perfect. It was right in the center of Paris, and only a five minute walk away from the school. Unfortunately, the praise ends here. The moment I arrived at the reception instead of a friendly, ‘Bonjour, ca va?’, I heard ‘Hello, you’re the new student? Here are the rules to sign and the deposit to pay!’.
There was a deposit of 300 euros and the rules indicated:
- The kitchen was closed between 10PM and 8AM, meaning I had no access to my fridge. Not only that, there was a 50 euro fine to pay for keeping food in my room.
- No visitors were allowed from school or outside, or there was a 50 euro fine to pay.
- Persons of the opposite sex could not enter the room and if he/she did, there was a fine of 150 euros.
- Friends could not ever visit, or you would pay 100 euros, etc, etc.
I think you can get a sense of what kind of place it was. It sounds terrible, but in spite of this I had fun. Even though I had to pay a 100 euro fine because my friend entered my room for only 10 minutes!
By living in the residence hall, I think we bonded way better with each other. We made more friends than those who lived with host families and had to go back home for dinner every day. One can see this as an advantage, but because most of the students were from Mexico, I ended up speaking more Spanish than French.
When Parisians heard us speaking Spanish in a restaurants, they wanted to practice their Spanish instead of giving us the opportunity to practice our French. So if you want to practice French, don’t use any Spanish.
Studying at a language school
Because the language school was located in the center of Paris, this gave all of us the opportunity to easily get lunch or hang out after classes. On our first day, we had to take a written and oral placement exam to determine our language level. I’m not going to go into how much I hate tests in general and how I usually fail written exams.
As you can probably guess, I didn’t do very well on my test. I was put in a class that wasn’t high enough for me. But there was a stupid rule that I could only change my level after a week, regardless of your teacher’s opinion. Basically, I wasted a whole week of classes I paid for.
Apart from that, the school was more than fine and I couldn’t really complain. The teachers were French and only spoke to us in French with no English at all. However, if you really want to learn a language quickly, I would never recommend taking a language course with a group.
Advantages of studying at EF Paris:
- Studying at the EF school will definitely give you a chance to meet a lot of people from different countries. You’ll become your friends for life.
- Studying in Paris can give you the unique opportunity to live in the French capital. All of that without going through a ton of trouble finding accommodation and getting a residence permit.