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A Guide to French Degrees Abroad

Parlez-vous Français? Ever wanted to pursue more than a study abroad program for a semester or a year, and instead pursue an entire French degree abroad? It’s said the best way to learn another language is to dive straight into a culture that speaks it. Jumping into a French-speaking culture for a degree program in French may seem intimidating, It can lead to careers where speaking another language will prove to be essential. Pursuing a degree in French abroad will help you confidently answer “oui” to the above questions.

Why Earn a French Degree Abroad

An international degree, whether an undergraduate, masters, or PhD level degree, in French will allow for complete language immersion and allow for French language proficiency.French can be a difficult language and culture to grasp. Reading and writing it is certainly easier than speaking it, and the different accents of different places only add to the confusion. Hang in there! It will get easier over time and the French language will become much easier to comprehend, understand, and speak. The biggest thing: don’t be afraid to say something. Locals are usually happy to help with vocabulary and issues with understanding, and it will be in a setting where you will be able to apply what you are learning into a cultural context quickly.

Locations

Getting a degree in French abroad doesn’t mean you have to study in France; French is spoken in many other countries in Europe, and even Africa too! Here are some of the top destinations to earn a degree in French abroad to help you get your program search started:

Certainly, when one thinks of French, one thinks of France, and the first city that comes to mind is usually Paris. Although the cultural hub of France, with the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and many, many art museums, the rest of France has much to offer French degree-seeking students too. If a big city is where you envision yourself, Paris may be a great option, but don’t fret if not; there are many smaller cities to study in France.

To the south of Paris lies Nice, a city on the coast, which lies between Monaco and Marseille, with much of the southern French countryside in between. West of Paris lies the land of the French castles, near Orleans, and to the north, Lille. French cities vary in size, but each city has its own unique flavor of French culture. Paris is remarkable, but if you are the type to get lost in a big city, consider a smaller town for your French degree program in France.

If France doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, French degree programs are also a great possibility in both Belgium and Switzerland. Natives in Belgium usually speak one of three languages, depending on the location of the city, so choose wisely. In Brussels, many locals speak French, and much like Paris, the city has many art museums and attractions that people from all over the world come to see. Cities in Switzerland tend to be smaller and tucked away in the mountains. The largest city you will encounter in the French-speaking part of Switzerland is Geneva. Depending on where you are, the view will be different, as Switzerland has a vast range of landscapes.

French Degree Programs Abroad

French can be taught with different dialects and slang, but a degree in French will prove to be useful, especially when working across French-speaking nations. Earning a degree in French has to start with the basic grammar and writing rules, but can end with things like linguistics, translation, or literature. Once you learn the basics of the French language, you can apply them to a specific subject field that interests you!

Undergraduate French degrees will take between three and four years to complete, depending on the program and your level of French fluency. French degree course requirements will, obviously, surround various aspects of the French language. However, since you’ll likely be studying in a French-speaking country, courses will also aim to incorporate the culture from your host country into your degree as well.

Masters and PhD degrees in French will be more specific than the general knowledge and structure of the French language, but will still have the added cultural value, as the foreign language will be used outside of the classroom and applied to different situations.

For all French degree programs, a general knowledge of French is, of course, useful. Many universities and colleges will have a French placement test for international students, and students will be placed into level appropriate courses based on their performance on the test.

Benefits & Challenges

Language. One thing is certain: pursuing a degree in French abroad will earn you the right to say you speak French, one of the most spoken languages around the world and an official language of the United Nations. Knowing French will help you easily travel to French speaking countries, making it easier to communicate with locals, get directions when you are lost, and creating local connections.

Travel. One of the greatest things about getting a French degree abroad is discovering a new place and culture. Even within France, the different dialects and slang of the regions varies, so French won’t be the same everywhere you go. It is important to know and be aware of differences in the French language wherever you choose to go, and understand that French might be easier to comprehend in one city over another.

Culture Shock. You’ve probably heard all about a thing called culture shock; it really can creep up on you when you are in a different place with a different culture, food, language, and way of living. Everything will seem new and exciting at first, but as time goes on, you will start to miss things from home. Know that it is okay to feel that way, and that it WILL pass. Take a deep breath and find a way to express what it is you are feeling, such as through journaling.

Life At Home. There will be times when friends and family back at home will want to know everything you are doing. It can be overwhelming to answer emails or messages on social media. Find a way to let those back home know that you are well, and some of the activities and opportunities you have had available to you, while not painstakingly answering email after email. Start a blog or make regular posts to social media about what you have been up to.

Pursuing a French degree abroad can open doors to different cultures and people you never knew existed. Knowing another language will allow you to communicate with more people and will give insight into the country you are studying in. French is useful across multiple fields and when it comes to international diplomacy, and even international travel, it is a resource you can draw on to better communicate with others globally.

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