Summer program in France moves to Paris

The French Global Pathways summer program will relocate from the quaint university town of Aix-en-Provence to metropolitan Paris in June 2019.

Cathryn Edelstein, the advisor of the Paris program, said she regretted that students in the Aix-en-Provence program never had the chance to visit Paris because of tight schedules. She said the program in Paris will be in close proximity to the college’s recent partnership with the Paris College of Art.

Emerson collaborated with Sorbonne University in Paris to offer French classes and an intercultural communication class taught by Edelstein for this eight-credit, four-week-long program in June. No prior study of the French language is required, and the college will select up to 20 students in late February to participate.

Moving from a suburban area to an urban one, students attending the program will confront an increase in fees from $9,000 to $9,955. Students’ housing costs will be included in the program fee, as it did during the Aix-en-Provence program. The cost of most meals and airfare is not included.

Edelstein said Emerson will provide more services than it did in the previous program. This year, students will have a full day of orientation supported by Cultural Experience Abroad, a company specializing in services for students studying abroad. CEA will also pick up students at the airport when they arrive. In previous years, students had to organize their own transportation from the airport.

Students will also receive a prepaid card to pay for the public transportation system in Paris during their stay.

Rather than living with host families as in the Aix-en-Provence program, this year’s students will live s in apartments provided by CEA, with other Emerson students in the program.

Before the relocation, Journalism Professor Jerry Lanson advised the program. He retired in June 2018.

“The idea of the [Aix-en-Provence] program was to expose students to French language and culture in addition to studying in school,” Lanson said.

Edelstein told the Beacon she received negative feedback from students who had difficulties living with host families in the Aix-en-Provence program. Edelstein said she did not want to specify for privacy concerns. For this reason, she,  along with the Office of International Affairs, decided to withdraw the host-family element from the program.

Kristi Szczesny, a senior visual and media arts major, attended the Aix-en-Provence program in May 2017. She said she hoped the school would incorporate host families into the Paris program.

“I think it was one of the most rewarding experiences that I couldn’t have had on my own,” Szczesny said.

Students of any major are eligible to apply for this program by filling out an online application and writing a statement about their study plan and reasons for wanting to join. The application opened in late November with a  deadline of Feb. 1.

Twenty students applied as of early December, according to Edelstein. The college hosted its largest group last year with 15 students, according to Lanson.

Bethany Hamlin, a senior visual and media arts major who participated in the Aix-en-Provence program in 2016, said she felt disappointed when she heard the program was moving to Paris.

“[Aix-en-Provence] is a small, casual, and relaxing city,” Hamlin said. “I don’t think you will get that experience in Paris because it is so busy and full of tourists. ”

Hamlin said students who attended the Aix-en-Provence program in 2017 visited the Cannes Film Festival. The festival occurs in May, but this year’s students will leave in June to match the University of Sorbonne’s class schedule, so attending the event would not be an option, according to Michael Holland, the associate director of the office of international and global engagement.

Students in the Aix-en-Provence program had a full schedule every day and did not have many opportunities to explore the village themselves, Edelstein said. This year in Paris, Edelstein plans to give students more free time by leaving their weekend schedule open for personal sightseeing and traveling.

“We cannot lose sight of [the importance of] living on your own, and building your own survival skills of independence, and being able to explore things and planning your time,” Edelstein said.

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