IES Abroad Nantes - French Immersion & Area Studies

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About

The IES Abroad Nantes Program has two important goals: to improve your written and verbal proficiency in French through language and area studies courses and teaching internships, and to introduce you to contemporary France and its role in the European Union. Founded in 1965, the program is small enough to welcome you into the community, yet large enough to allow for a variety of academic and extracurricular activities. We offer you the opportunity to integrate fully into French society and function completely in French, due to the program’s focus on full immersion and the fact that there are few Anglophones in Nantes.

This program enjoys a close relationship with the Université de Nantes. You have access to the school’s libraries, computer labs, cafeterias, and sports facilities, and are welcome to join student clubs and other social and sports organizations. You also have many opportunities for enrolling in university courses.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 47 reviews
  • Academics 8.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 15 of 47
Christen
10/10

Life changing experience

My experience with this program was amazing. This wasn't my first experience abroad, but it gave me such a great sense of self. My host family embraced me as if I was truly part of the family and the adventures with friends will never be forgotten. I would and do recommend a study abroad for anyone.
My only regret was not keeping in touch with friends from the program.
This experience gave me such a level of confidence and self sufficiency, it has continued to influence my decisions. When you are capable of thriving in another culture in a distant place; it changes how you view not just the world but more importantly your own abilities.
I would recommend staying flexible. Some of my favorite memories are from last minute trips with no plan. We just went. My favorite memory is of a friend and I taking out a map, closing our eyes and pointing to the next place we were going.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jacqueline
10/10

Nantes, A Dream Semester

From childhood, I’ve known I love to travel. As I grew up I imagined studying abroad in high school, I talked about it, hoped for it, and never did end up putting anything together. As I entered college I renewed my hopes, and made plans for junior year. I was serious, I was excited, and I was going to France. Nantes, France, to be exact.

After all the planning, all the excitement, I was terrified when I got to Nantes. I arrived at the IES Abroad building, which I would later grow to love, and I met a whole crowd of other students, each one of us more or less quiet, just waiting for our host families to come pick us up. The first few days passed like you would expect, people saying their names over and over, trying to talk to as many other students as possible, and sharing all kinds of information about their lives at home in the US and about what their host families here in Nantes are like. IES took us on lots of weekend trips, especially at the start, and little by little we grew to be as comfortable as if we had spent years with each other. The little table in the kitchen and the big mass of tables in the library became regular spots to gather and talk, and I made friends in Nantes who I still talk to and remain close with despite the fact that we are now spread out all over the US and France.

My host family, more than anything, was one of the most impactful parts of my time in France. I was far more tearful and sad on the day I left France and my host family, than on the day I said goodbye to my real family, because them I would see again in only four short months. I was blessed with a host family who I grew to think of as my own family, as my mom, dad, three younger sisters, cat and dog. Each one of them welcomed me as if I was some long-lost member of the family, coming back from a lengthy trip. I fit into their life and routine quickly and with ease, and I could talk to each of them about whatever came into our heads. IES couldn't have done a better job placing students in their host families.

The classes I took, both with IES and at the University, were challenging, but rewarding more than anything. And challenging though they could be, there was always a tutor, a friend, or the teacher standing by to help however they could. Though I had my worries about whether or not I would be at ease with the language before arriving, every fear was quelled shortly after arriving. There was a learning curve, and adjustments had to be made along the way, but the fact that everyone in your sphere wants to help you, coupled with the fact that simply being immersed in the language will help you to learn quicker than you could have believed, makes everything seem all the easier.

I loved my semester in Nantes more than I even realized I could before arriving there, and I wouldn't change it for anything. I came home with lifelong friends, knowledge of a beautiful culture and country that I never imagined I would understand so well, memories that will say with me as long as I am still going, and skills in a language that I will be able to use for the rest of my life.

Yes, I recommend this program
Mary Bradley
8/10

Taught through teaching

IES provided for me the opportunity to teach at a local middle school in Nantes, France. This opportunity enhanced my experience abroad as I became more assimilated to French culture and the functioning of the French education system. My week consisted of just four hours of teaching nearly 50 students, not including lesson planning. This was a chance to explore a new career path that I had not yet considered, and helped me gain vital insight into my ideal future career.

How can this program be improved?
The French language courses can be more challenging. I did not learn as much grammar and language skills as I had hoped through this course. The immersion through a homestay and living in a real French city is crucial, but it helps monumentally to put together the missing pieces through a structured grammar class.
Yes, I recommend this program
Delaney
10/10

French Immersion & So Much More

This program advertises that you'll be immersed in French language and culture, and that is completely true. But it's impossible to describe what all you'll get from this program. The staff at IES Nantes are very committed to making your stay in France the best possible. Anything you are worried about, they are there for you & willing to listen. The program provides the perfect mixture of a feeling of home in a foreign country, while also challenging you to go outside of your comfort zone. Most of your courses will probably be at the IES Center, with the rest of your American classmates. But, you have the option to take courses at the University in Nantes, with French students! This is one example of the combination of the comfortable but challenging aspect of the program. I took a sociology class at the university and the professor modified the course so that it would be a more level playing field with the native French students. It was definitely still a challenge, but nothing unmanageable. It is one of the most interesting experiences I took from Nantes, and I'm so grateful I had the opportunity. I highly recommend it!

Yes, I recommend this program
Samantha
10/10

Dream in Front of My Eyes

I use the title to describe my experience in only six words. The thing is the experience really takes up more words than what I can write. The program is nicely set up, super organized, you meet other American students from different parts of the country, you actually speak French most of the time (Nantes is a city with hardly any American tourists), and your host family will give you an idea of how French culture looks in a traditional sense. IES staff is extremely helpful (I miss them so much), there are social events organized every week by the social coordinator, and there is also opportunities to take courses in the local university (which I recommend), taking a gastronomy course, and taking a teaching internship to teach English in French schools. All these oppportunities are what make IES Nantes a dream come true!

How can this program be improved?
Maybe just by making the placement exams better (I was placed in a French class that was too easy).
Yes, I recommend this program
Froggie
10/10

An amazing semester!

This program was absolutely amazing! My french improved immensely, I made close friends that I still keep in touch with, and fell in love with Nantes, so much so all I want to do is go back! The staff here are 100% dedicated to the students, going above and beyond to make sure each student has an excellent experience. The homestay is a great opportunity and I loved my host family. The professors are all very understanding of the language barrier that exists, but also push you to improve. The city is gorgeous and there is always something interesting going on. The social coordinator also makes sure students know when there is an event and takes them there. Overall, a fantastic program that I would recommend to anyone hoping to improve their French and wanting an unforgettable semester!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Tarin
10/10

The Place to Go for French Immersion

If you're looking to truly immerse yourself in french language and culture, this is the program for you. Nantes is the perfect city for a study abroad semester: it is large and young enough that there is always something fun to do, yet small enough to truly feel like home. The people are kind and generous and (unlike what you may find in more touristy study abroad destinations) always speak french back! The IES program itself makes sure that you have the opportunity to make the most out of your time here, with plenty of weekday city social events, weekend trips exploring the local region, and integration with french students at the local university through classes, conversation clubs, or other extracurriculars.

I loved having the option to take all my courses– even psychology– in french. If you’re pursuing an education beyond french language or the humanities, however, be forewarned that there may only be 1 or 2 class options offered at the local university. Another potential limitation is that your only housing option is a homestay, but don’t let that deter you! My host family was perhaps my favorite aspect of this program and where I learned the most. I met friends for life here– both in american and french students as well as in my host family– and am already counting down the days until I can go back!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Taylor
10/10

All I wanted and more!

IES Abroad in Nantes was literally everything I was looking for in a study abroad program: a homestay with a host family, all my classes (which were all super interesting) in french, a perfectly sized program (my semester was 40 students), a super fun city to make myself at home in, and opportunities to hang out with local french students at the university and at conversation club every week. The IES team in Nantes was really good at organizing events, from ice skating to karaoke nights, for all the students in the program to take part in. There were also several included field trips like to les Chateaux de la Loire and Tours, which all students could go on as part of their program tuition. I was also really excited about traveling - while I was in Europe, I wanted to see everything I could. Nantes was relatively easy to travel from, as it has its own airport and is a quick 3 hour train ride from Paris. I was able to do all the traveling I wanted on the weekends and took full advantage of our week long fall break by traveling to 5 countries in 9 days. When I was back in Nantes, I loved living in my homestay with my host mom. She was there for me when I needed advice or someone to talk to (in French, bien sur!), but also let me be totally independent and go out when I wanted to. I met so many people on my program who came from all over the US, most of which I am still in contact with today. The IES Center in Nantes was definitely good at encouraging us to speak french as much as possible, especially when we were in school, and I found my level of french increase exponentially during my time in Nantes. Overall, if you're looking for an opportunity to study abroad in France, live in a homestay, take your classes in french, and live in a clean, safe, and interesting city, go with IES Nantes! I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone I could, and would do it all over again myself in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
Nothing to note!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Adrian
9/10

Everything I wanted from study abroad

I could talk endlessly about this program. I had a fantastic time, and could not have been happier with my choice to study abroad in Nantes, France. Nantes is a beautiful city that is the perfect size for a semester. It is large enough to have everything you could need - shopping, movies, nightlife, and spectacular restaurants and boulangeries - while still feeling manageable. I was able to easily navigate the city within a couple of weeks, and it truly felt like home by the time I left. People speak very little English in Nantes, which forces you to grow quickly with French language skills. Also, everyone in the program lived in a homestay, which is definitely a highlight of the program. I got to improve my French while learning about French culture from French people. Some programs have an optional homestay option, but I'm glad everyone participated so none of us had FOMO about living in an apartment or missing out on the homestay.

The IES Abroad Center is terrific. The entire staff is French, and courses are small and adaptable to the students. They were always helpful and understanding of everyone's needs. We also got to go on 4 weekend trips which were all magnificent. France is a great country to stay in because each region is very unique and has something different to offer. All of the classes were taught in French with French professors, and you could also choose to take classes at the local French university. The classes were interesting and focused on a lot on learning about French culture.

I love Nantes and still am raving about my time abroad to friends and family. If you want a real, cultural experience of a European city, and want to improve your French, you won't regret choosing this program!

How can this program be improved?
Though the program has a French-only policy, it wasn't enforced very well and most of us spoke English. It was frustrating at times and you really had to push yourself if you wanted to speak only French.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emma
10/10

Second Home in Nantes

I absolutely fell in love with Nantes during my four months there, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. The city itself is beautiful and has such great energy, and with a big university, there are lots of young people around. There's also a really small anglophone presence so it's the perfect place for French immersion. If you want to improve your French, this is the program for you! All the classes are in French and my French improved so much, especially through speaking with my host family, which was one of the biggest highlights for me: they were so sweet to me, made me feel welcome right away, and my host mom made such amazing food!

The courses at IES were fun and engaging--I especially loved the art history course I took--and the professors were overall tuned into the level of French students had. The staff at the IES are so sweet, and the center provides a kind of home base for its students.

I also got to take classes at the university, which was challenging but really fun especially because it led to me making French friends. I met so many great people and some of my favorite memories are just exploring and hanging out in centre ville with other IES students. Studying in Nantes was an amazing experience for me and I definitely found a second home there. IES and often the host families provide you with guidance, but at the same time you are independent and free to explore as you wish. I definitely recommend this program to anyone looking to improve their French, meet really nice people and explore a beautiful city.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Iggy
10/10

IES Nantes: a fantastic semester in Nantes

My semester abroad in Nantes was incredible and I can't wait for the day I can go back and visit again. The IES program described itself as a full French immersion program, and that is definitely the kind of experience I received. All of my classes were in French, which forced me to become more and more familiar with the French language, culture, and history. The "French only" rule at the center helped push us out of our comfort zone and forced us to express ourselves in French, even if it meant using simplified terms or looking up words in an English-French dictionary from time to time. This program highly recommends staying with a home stay, which I also recommend. My home stay family was just a grandmother, but the time spent with her was incredibly valuable to me. We would chat about politics or cultural differences after dinner, and she would often ask me questions about English translations since she taught English lessons. My conversations with her improved my French comprehension and vocabulary immensely. The staff at the IES center were amazing. They were clearly passionate about the subjects they taught, and it was obvious that they were patient enough to try and understand our not-so-perfect French, which gave us much needed confidence. IES offers a wide range of classes, but if you're looking for something they don't offer, it is still easy to take classes at the university instead of at the center. The curriculum offered was very thorough and was probably the source of most of my improvements in the French language, in terms of increasing my vocabulary and understanding of grammatical rules. The amount of students at IRS during my semester was fairly smaller than usual, but the social life did not make it seem that way. During orientation, the staff gave us more than enough opportunities to make friends that will last beyond our stay in France. The field trips included with the program also helped create these friendships and by the end of the semester, it saddened me to see all of my classmates leave.
During the last two months, huge protests would break out across France, many occurring in Nantes. Even though many of these protests- usually peaceful, but sometimes violent- would occur not even a block from my home or and IES center, the staff made sure we knew what to do in case anything happened. Anytime we travelled outside the city, we had to follow a strict protocol so they knew exactly where we were just in case something happened. No matter the circumstances, the staff made sure we always were safe and knew what do to and who to go to in case of emergency, which I greatly appreciated. In fact, one of my biggest worries about going abroad were my many dietary restrictions (vegetarian and severe food allergies). However, IES made sure that they were not a problem. For example, if we were all at a restaurant, the staff made sure I was able to eat a meal there or asked the chef to make a special plate just for me, and I was very thankful they took the time to do those things for me.

Overall, the IES Nantes program was fantastic and I could not think of one thing that could be improved. If you're looking for a true French immersion program, this is the only one you will need.

How can this program be improved?
It honestly couldn't!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Brigit
9/10

Merci Nantes!

This program was overall great. I loved Nantes as a city, not too big and not too small, with plenty of students around due to the large University of Nantes. The IES program was great at welcoming us and helping us understand Nantes, and although the classes were not very vigorous and I had very little homework, my french improved a great deal. I loved my host family and my host mom's delicious, traditional french meals. I made some great American friends and a few French friends, however it was difficult to meet French people my age. I loved my time in Nantes and would recommend this program to anyone who loves France and the French language.

How can this program be improved?
I was frustrated by the amount of English spoken in the program center and by students in general on the program. The program in theory had a zero tolerance policy for speaking english, but this wasn't enforced at all and students pretty quickly found out that they could get away with speaking English. Part of the problem is that you have to be really self-motivated to speak only French when you're surrounded by Americans most of the time, but I think the program needs to figure out a better system for enforcing French speaking at all times.
Also, there was little interaction between the program administration (not professors) and the students (and to be honest, it sometimes felt like the staff really didn't like our group of students, which may be because of the excessive english speaking) but it was kind of a strange dynamic.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Molly
10/10

Finding a Second Home

Nantes was truly an ideal place to study abroad, especially when it comes to what I was looking for, which was a moderate sized city that would allow me to use my French as much as possible. It was big enough that there was always something to do, but not so big that a lot of people spoke English which was great when it came to having to use French and practicing my skills. I also knew that IES Nantes offered a home stay option which turned out to be the absolute best part of my trip. Living with a family gave me the opportunity to really understand what life in France means, but also gave me a chance to form connections that will last for the rest of my life. The IES Nantes center does an incredible job at matching students with families, and is so helpful if problems do come up. The center staff was also helpful with other issues as well, anything from locating important places like the post office or the doctor, to having a band-aid if you needed one on the spot. The classes offered were very interesting and taught at a reasonable pace, and the instructors were very adaptive to student's needs and issues. IES Nantes also offers an option to take classes at the local university which is a great opportunity to experience class with French students and take a class that is taught at a standard pace that is not adapted to American students. All classes in France are focused around large tests and papers rather than smaller assignments, which is important to keep in mind. There is less work to do on a daily basis, but you are expected to keep up with you classes and do work individually. Overall the program was amazing and I had a great semester!

How can this program be improved?
I think the only improvement would be having activities that allow all of the students to get to know one another right at the beginning of the program. Everyone naturally split up into the groups that they would hang out with for the semester, but I think it would have been nice to get to know everyone not just a small group of people. Maybe having certain activities with predetermined groups so that everyone gets to know everyone.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Tatianna
9/10

Just Enough Guidance

Nantes was the perfect place for my study abroad experience. Going into studying abroad, I was looking to be fully immersed in French Language & Culture, and that is exactly what this program did for me.

When I was trying to choose a program, what stood out to me about IES is how they genuinely wanted to ensure that you had a good experience. They didn't just want you to sign up for their program and then completely disregard you once you got there. Their staff was involved from beginning to end making sure that every student had a good experience.

Another one of my favorite parts of the program was the home-stay experience. Everyone is required to live with a host family, which really helped everyone's french improved and allowed us to really get to know french culture. Almost all of my friends loved their host families, which is not something I have necessarily heard voiced from other people who have studied abroad. The host families in Nantes have been doing the program for years, so they are familiar with the student's experience. For me, having a host family was a great thing because it meant not being alone. I still had that home base to go back to every night where I was able to continue to learn about french culture and also build connections with a "second" family.

Academically, the program was great. Taking all of my classes in French definitely helped improve my french. The work load was a good amount. It wasn't so much that you had no time for anything else, but it wasn't too little to the point where it felt like you weren't even in school.

The IES staff and local french university teaching students also made this program stick out. The staff were always readily available to help you with any problem you had. There were also local french university teaching students who were there to help you with anything from academic problems to how to use the public transportation. Having other french students in the center were great because they helped hold us accountable to speak in french and they gave us an insight into the life of a french student. Not to mention by the end of the program we were all close friends!

The Nantes program was exactly what I was looking for in study abroad! They gave us enough guidance to feel comfortable living in a new country and city, but enough freedom to grow and explore on our own.

How can this program be improved?
Overall, I had a very positive experience with this program. The only thing that I was unsatisfied with was the amount of english that was spoken between the students. The IES center had a no english policy, but many students just ignored that policy. The staff enforced the policy from time to time, but maybe not enough. Once students realized that they could get away with speaking english, they would just continue to do so. While some of it is the fault of the student's, I think the program needs to find a more effective way of enforcing the french only policy.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Margaret
10/10

Just Walking Along

Living and studying in Nantes was one of the best semesters of my life. The center staff was always helpful, my host mother was just so nice and helpful, and the teachers gave interesting lessons over a variety of French subjects. Basically, IES provided a fantastic program that not only developed my French, but helped me understand the nuances of French culture which only strengthened my love for France.
Living in the city of Nantes likely made this process easier too. Nantes is just a fantastic city to live in, with so many things to do it can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, my favorite thing to do in Nantes was just go walk along the river. Every Sunday I would just spend the afternoon walking up and around the river Erdre, which was relatively close to where I lived. It was calming just walking along the nature trails and boardwalks built alongside this majestic ancient river, watching (and maybe listening to) all the people walking by on their afternoon strolls. It was also really fun to take the boat to the other side of the river, just because I could, and continue observing French life, and wildlife. It really was a nice way to take a break from whatever piece of homework I had to work on, while still being a part of French society.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe more weekend trips or activities scheduled by the IES center in Nantes and France.
Yes, I recommend this program

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