FAQs of France!

Annika J. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Lakeside School in Washington.

Knowing that future SYA France students are currently contemplating whether or not to study abroad, I want to dedicate this article to alleviating concerns and answering some questions that future SYA students may have. If you are reading this with about a million questions about academics, social life, extracurriculars, the French language, host families, and more, trust me: I’ve been there too. So to help out, I asked my friends at SYA: “What were some questions you had before coming to SYA?” By answering these questions, I hope future students will gain a clear understanding of SYA France and that this will solidify their decision to attend.

How is school different from in the US?

Expect the rigor and pacing of the curriculum to be similar to what you would have at your home school in the US. The teachers here follow the same grading system (letter grades) as most American high schools and the content is taught similarly too. The main difference is the language aspect (two-thirds of my courses here are taught entirely in French!) and the daily school schedule. School starts later than it would in the states (usually at 9 am) and ends later (3:10 pm to 5:05 pm, depending on the day). 

Will I have more freedom than I did at home?

In my experience, this question is an absolute yes! While every student comes from a different background in the States and has a different experience here in France, I think that most SYA students would agree that they have more independence here than at home. I would say that the greatest freedom I’ve experienced is the high level of accessibility in Rennes. Coming from an island outside of Seattle where public transportation and walkability hardly exist, I was happy to use Rennes’ simple and practical metro and bus systems, and to also have the ability to walk just about everywhere in the city. With greater accessibility, I’ve had the independence to choose where I want to be and to easily navigate myself around.

How do students integrate themselves into the French language?

Many SYA students are initially scared to jump into a completely French-speaking environment, but there is no need to worry! From day one, students are exposed to casual French conversations with their host families where they gain an extraordinary speaking ability. Because the majority of our classes are taught in French, we quickly master French grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills. And, luckily, the teachers understand that we are still learning; the language aspect becomes more prominent in our classes as the year progresses so that the curriculum is fair for each student regardless of their starting level. 

Will I be able to travel around France?

Yes! We go on school trips to different regions of France and many students travel independently with friends throughout the year to explore cities and regions outside of Rennes.

How many students are there at SYA France? How many students are full-year/semester students?

This year there are approximately 76 students, but this number varies from year to year. This year's class was also lucky to have roughly ten fall semester and eight spring semester students. 

What’s the difference between the fall and spring semesters?

In the fall semester, the emphasis is on integration in the French culture, language, host families, and school whereas the spring semester focuses more on becoming a true and authentic member of the community.

What are school breaks like?

SYA France offers some amazing trips! While each year’s breaks are different, this year we went to Sete (a small town in the south of France) for a week in October, to Paris for a week in February, and we are looking forward to our week in Marseille in April! Each break is two weeks long (typically one week with the school and one week free for independent travel or time with host families). For the December holidays, there is no school trip so students can either stay with their host families or reconnect with their American families.

What does the “typical SYA student” look like?

There is truly no mold for an SYA student, but what we have in common is our willingness to take risks, our flexibility, and our passion for learning. 

Should I come to SYA France?

If you are willing to take risks each and every day, make new friends, learn another language, gain a global perspective, and have fun, then yes– you should absolutely come to SYA France!

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