How much French do I need to know before coming to Paris?
Students do not have to speak French fluently to benefit from what the program has to offer, but they do need to make a serious commitment to speak French in the venues of the program, at Bing events, and with fellow students, staff members and faculty. This commitment is essential to make progress in French, especially if students are considering staying for one quarter only. In addition to commitment, preparation is crucial as well. Basically, the better prepared one is linguistically and culturally before coming, the more opportunities will be available upon arrival.
Most important to bear in mind for students arriving in Paris with the minimal language requirements, is to be open-minded. This may seem secondary, but in fact a student who is truly inquisitive, open to others, and willing to listen and explore, will progress rapidly. Also of importance is to invest time and effort in this experience. Indeed, 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.
When Should I Come To Paris?
Autumn allows students to travel before the program begins and under very good conditions (fewer tourists than in the summer, and extensive daylight). In addition, students who are only able to spend one quarter in Paris may attend courses at the Sorbonne in the fall, if they are at an appropriate language level (at least OSPARIS 23P upon arrival). They can also participate in an International Design & Construction Project with students from two French institutions.
Winter is the season when true Parisians live in Paris. The weather is fairly mild, museums are relatively empty, and the tourists are not omnipresent. In addition, BOSP has launched a winter quarter STEM Track at the Stanford Center in Paris. The French language prerequisite is waived for STEM students participating in the STEM courses being offered. These courses (offered in English) allow students who may never have thought it possible to spend a quarter in France, to do so.
Spring offers students an excellent time to explore special topics of academic interest. This is a quarter where students often devote time to independent studies.