Frequently Asked Questions
- What do I gain by coming at a given time to Paris? Can I participate in an arranged internship if I come for one quarter only?
- The key word here is WINTER: You must spend two consecutive academic quarters in Paris in order to do an arranged internship in Paris or attend the Paris university (Sorbonne, Paris IV) -- Autumn and Winter OR Winter and Spring. Thus, a student should arrive in winter to prepare and interview for a part-time internship in the spring quarter (at least three full days a week). Likewise, students who arrive in autumn quarter can prepare and interview for a part-time internship in winter quarter.
Spring: this is a good time to come if you have been offered a UAR grant for the summer. Students often use the spring quarter to prepare ahead for their independent summer research period. Most engineering students should come this quarter as well, as it usually fits in with their own academic planning.
Autumn: A good time to come if any student is considering long-term projects, or staying two or three quarters in Paris. This is a perfect time as well, to combine personal travel (in September) with academic work in Paris.
- Can I do serious graduate work in Paris?
- Yes. Students can register at the Sorbonne (Paris IV), and attend courses and seminars at the masters level. Independent research can be done as well at a graduate level, under the auspices of a French specialist in the field. Just as an example, one former student did masters work on the relations between stage and spectator in the Mariage de Figaro at the Comédie-Française. For her memoir she interviewed three actors of the Comédie Francaise, received private access to their archives, and her work was commissioned by the curator in chief of the Comédie-Française library for their reserves. Almost all our faculty members are French tenured faculty members of the the Sorbonne, Sciences Po, CNRS, and contribute regularly to French media and the intellectual world in France. Many have been invited to give lectures at American universities.
- Do I have to be fluent in French in order to come?
- No, but you do have to make a serious commitment to speak French at all times in the venues of the program, at Bing events, with fellow students, staff members and faculty. Without this commitment, little progress can be expected in French, especially if students are considering staying one quarter only. Basically, the better prepared one is linguistically before coming, the more opportunities will be available upon arrival. It is unrealistic for a student with limited language skills, staying only one quarter in Paris to expect many professional or academic immersion opportunities available to him/her.
Please note that all courses and academic work is in French, with the exception of lectures offered by visiting faculty members from Stanford.
- Will I be well-prepared if I come to Paris after having completed just one year of French at Stanford?
- The minimal language prerequisite simply allows students who have considerable academic requirements to satisfy on campus, to go overseas. But this does not mean that conditions in this situation are optimal. 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. If at all possible, students should try to fit in an extra quarter (or more) of second-year French on campus before coming to Paris.
- Can I do volunteer work while in Paris?
- Yes, and we strongly recommend you do so, but not over the summer, and only under certain circumstances. Although very rewarding, you should know that volunteer work is highly regulated in France, and associations are careful when taking on helpers. The Stanford Program in Paris can therefore help by introducing you to volunteer work through service learning (see fixed internships) with three institutions in Paris (all with children). Except for one opportunity, you do not need to stay two quarters in Paris or have advanced language skills in order to participate.
- Can Science or Engineering students accomplish rewarding work in their fields in Paris?
- In engineering (and to a lesser degree in math) we have quite a few possibilities to offer students, both in the field of research and in the area of academic internships, even for those staying one quarter only in Paris. This is because our host institution is a prominent graduate school of electronic engineering and telecommunications in Paris. Students majoring in chemistry or biology should know that there are usually no courses at French universities available for them, but there is one lab position offered each quarter (see fixed internships).
There are observation internships as well in two renowned Paris hospitals, for students majoring in human biology and biology. These are offered every quarter and do not require staying two quarters in Paris.
- Can I audit or attend courses at any Paris university, if I want to? If not, where can I study with other French students in a French environment?
- Stanford students cannot audit classes if they are not officially registered at a French university. We have agreements with the Sorbonne-Paris IV (one of the 13 Paris universities), the largest university in France devoted to the humanities, and with our host institution, the ISEP, where both engineering courses, and a limited number of general culture courses are offered as well. Stanford students are welcome to attend classes at either institution, and can audit classes at the ISEP.
- What is the weather like?
- Paris is in northern Europe, so the majority of days in the year are cloudy rather than sunny. It is rare to have more than one consecutive week of sunshine in Paris, so one would not want to attend the program in spring, for example, for the good weather. On the other hand, winters are fairly mild, and it rarely snows more than twice during the season.