Bonjour! So I am sorry about not posting last week. I had a lot going on with class decision and IES took us on a four day long trip to the south of France where I had no internet in order to post. Speaking of IES, I am focusing this post on why IES has been such a great company to study with, at least thus far into the program. I am not going to go into much detail about my trip in this post, but I will post another time this week about my trip, so look out for that!
What is IES?
IES, The Company
IES is a company that specializes in sending students abroad. They began as the Institute of European Studies sending their first group of students to Vienna in 1950. The second center opened in Paris in 1961 (my center!!! as if I actually own it). Eventually, their programs expanded and the first program outside of Europe began in Mexico City in 1982. Now they offer programs in so many different countries that there is a place to study practically for everyone. Check out their website at iesabroad.org for more information on their history or their programs.
IES and Penn State
I am not sure about the history between Penn State and IES but Penn State accepts a lot of programs from IES and it is very easy to find a program. IES courses transfer easily to Penn State. Also, I am not sure about all programs, but IES always has a big showing at the Education Abroad Fair in the fall semester and they have a representative present to you about your program. Beyond that, IES also gives various webinars and supplies a lot of books with information which are available to you in the Peer Advising room on the fourth floor in Boucke!
French Studies Program
IES used to house the BIA (Business) and FS (French Studies) programs in the same center. Both of the programs have grown to a larger size and now the old center is used for the FS program and the BIA program has moved to another center. (I will tell you why that is a great thing in just a moment)
Our facilities are very nice. The center requires a code to enter in the front door so it is very safe. There are no signs that have IES on it because it would basically be saying “HELLO FRANCE, WE ARE FROM AMERICA!”
There are four classrooms at our center as well as a lounge. The classrooms all have a white board and a tv for powerpoints and showing movies, etc. The lounge has several couches, a few tables and chairs, as well as a microwave to heat up food. There are two vending machines with really cheap drinks from coffee, hot chocolate, and cappucinos to coke, water, and juice. There is also a piano in the lounge for people who want to play some music. Beyond that, there is also a library and a computer lab in the center for everyone to take advantage of (with free printing aussi!!).
To start off our time at IES, there was an orientation program that was mandatory for all students. They gave us a lot of information about Paris and their ideals for the program. They also give paper copies of everything so that we can review it on our own later since it is all in French and everyone comes from different levels of French.
They were very helpful getting a cell phone and a Pass Navigo (metro pass) as well. They lead groups around to help you get past any language barriers to purchase these items. They also gave tours to various places around Paris that we will need to know how to get to for our time here.
So, we have a fantastic student activities coordinator. He is in charge of all the activities and programs that are for the students. Every month there is “Une question du mois” that we can answer and get a prize if we answer correctly. I was fortunate to win a brunch at Angelinas which is a very famous restaurant in Paris! I heard that later there will be a prize to win tickets to a soccer game!!
Beyond that, there is also a daily contest called “Où suis-je à Paris?” (Where am I in Paris?). You can win different French candies each day if you answer correctly.
This is something started this semester. It translates as “the challenge” and it is where someone says that they are going to speak only French for the entire week except when you talk to your parents back home of course. Beyond speaking, you must also turn your Facebook into French and change your home page to a French website. You also have to write a paragraph about your week.
If you do le défi for five weeks, you get your name on a plaque and win a prize. I am currently on week 1 of 5 but I am just taking it week by week for now and we will see what happens later!
French Studies vs. BIA (Business)
So, in one of the sections above, I stated that it was a good thing to separate the BIA and FS students. Here is the difference between the programs: FS students are required to have previous experience in French before coming and are generally French majors or minors. BIA students have no language requirement and generally come in with no French knowledge at all.
I have noticed a lot of “hand holding” with the BIA students. They were given an IES Rep to help them in the airport where as the FS students were expected to do it on their own. Most of the BIA students stay in apartments and not homestays which is such an important thing for students that really want to learn French to do! I think it is great to have a business school in Paris but it is good that the two programs are separated since one is obviously serious about French and the other is here just to take classes in another country (and that is not to say that none of the BIA students care about France or French, this is just the impression of them in my center). Many people also say they only speak English so I am glad to be separated from English as much as possible!
Please comment below with your experiences and if you are in an IES program, what is it like?