Planning Your Time In Paris

How much French do I need to know before coming to Paris?

Students do not have to speak French fluently to benefit from what the program has to offer, but they do need to make a serious commitment to speak French in the venues of the program, at Bing events, and with fellow students, staff members and faculty. This commitment is essential to make progress in French, especially if students are considering staying for one quarter only. In addition to commitment, preparation is crucial as well. Basically, the better prepared one is linguistically and culturally before coming, the more opportunities will be available upon arrival. It is perhaps unrealistic for a student with limited language skills, staying for only one quarter in Paris to expect many professional or academic immersion opportunities available to him/her.

Most important to bear in mind for students arriving in Paris with the minimal language requirements, is to be open-minded. This may seem secondary, but in fact a student who is truly inquisitive, open to others, and willing to listen and explore, will progress greatly. Also of importance is to invest time and effort in this experience. Indeed, students with minimal French language skills should expect to invest more time and effort in their courses abroad than their counterparts. They should consider taking a limited number of courses in Paris, focusing on a reasonable load of reading and writing in French, in order to submit polished and well presented academic work to instructors.

When Should I Come To Paris?

Autumn allows students to travel before the program begins and under very good conditions (fewer tourists than in the summer, and extensive daylight). In addition, students who are only able to spend one quarter in Paris may attend courses at the Sorbonne in the fall, if they are at an advanced language level (at least OSPARIS 23P upon arrival).

Winter is the season when true Parisians live in Paris. The weather is fairly mild, museums are relatively empty, and the tourists are not omnipresent. In addition, as of 2015-2016 BOSP is launching a new winter quarter Biochemistry course at the Stanford Center in Paris. The French language prerequisite will be waived for STEM students participating in this course. This course (offered in English) will allow students who may never thought it possible to spend a quarter in France, to do so.

Winter/Spring represents the most rewarding sequence of time to come to Paris. It corresponds to the Parisian university semester and allows for participation in the largest number of the Program’s special immersion activities - a wide scope of arranged professional internships; a design project with both French engineers and French design students; an internship in one of France’s major think-tanks devoted to climate change and bio-economy; and a semester at the Sorbonne, regardless of your level of French upon arrival in Paris. Think of your stay realistically - in order to truly understand and explore the underpinnings of French society, a two quarter stay is essential. In addition, in this case, several follow-up opportunities are available to students in early summer (including internship extensions, for example).

Spring offers students an excellent time to explore special topics of academic interest, and then to stay on for summer in order to do independent follow-up research in France. Many summer grants are available to students at Stanford, but often priority is given to those who have attended an overseas program in the Spring, and have prepared for their research, on-site and in advance.