Why you should study abroad with ESA Paris
Six years ago this month I committed to going abroad to Paris with ESA (European Studies Association) and it was the best decision I ever made. I didn’t think there was any study abroad programs at the community college level, but when I discovered it through hallway flyer I knew I had to check it out. After attending the initial first meeting in November, I waited until the special Saturday meeting in February with the director, to confirm my attendance once and for all. What I learned at those meetings was more than enough to realize I had to do this, especially after just obtaining my green card back in September.
I’m here now to tell you why ESA Paris is one of the best study abroad programs in California, and why doing this is something worth considering. This trip began a new adventure that continues to this day and through this website and beyond. Let me show you just a taste of what this program offers.
(First time at the Eiffel Tower)
An amazing city with so much culture, history, class, you name it Paris has it. Even with a month you won’t get to see everything, I’ve tried. Whether it is the Eiffel Tower that never gets old, to the Louvre and Orsay museums, or a walk down the Champs Élysées, there is so much to see in Paris and that’s just the obvious and major attractions.
Since you will be there in July that means the sun does not set until literally 10 or 11PM, so you’ll have plenty of daylight to explore if you decide to. Best of all you’ll be there during La Fête nationale, their National Day of Independence, which is an amazing and unforgettable experience. If you love Los Angeles weather than you’ll feel right at home during July as the heat will melt your heart.
Expect the occasional light shower here and there but you’ll be fine with your summer wardrobe. Over the next few months I will be adding plenty of guides and places to check out so stay tuned here for more on that.
ESA happens every year during the month of July. The official start date is always on June 30th (departure day) and ends either July 30th or 31st it varies year by year. The program has been around for 40 years and it shows through the wonderful experience you get. Informational meetings are hosted by 4 different colleges, they are City College of San Francisco, CSU-San Bernardino, Los Angeles City College, and East Los Angeles College. No registration is required to attend those, just show up. You can download their official brochure and see the dates and more on their website, the next meeting at ELAC is this Saturday, February 23rd at 11AM you can find me there this weekend.
The price of the program this year is $3700, which includes the courses, twin dorm, meals, admission tickets, transportation on day trips, hotel for weekend trip, special dinners, monthly metro pass and more. There are additional supplemental options you can add, as well as a group flight option for $1075 from Los Angeles or $850 from San Francisco. Overall you are looking at a minimum price point of $5000, excluding personal expenses once you are there. Now this may seem quite high for the average community college student but let me tell you one thing, it is worth every penny! I’m not kidding when I say that this program financially is one of the best ones out there. There are equivalent programs for twice as much and they don’t include half of what you get with ESA, that’s a guarantee.
(The view from the room)
The dorms are located in one of the best areas of Paris (6th arrondissement) and you will feel like a true Parisian walking in and out of those doors. There are weekend day trips to places outside of Paris, which means you’ll see much more of France than just Paris. This also includes a weekend trip to Normandy where you will stay in a hotel and enjoy a different part of France. The price includes plenty of day and night activities: museums, shows, castles, and lunches/dinners. Price wise this is an incredible opportunity during one of the most busiest times of the year in Paris, so any hotel or airbnb you’ll find will be even more expensive.
If price is an issue you can always start saving now. There is a variety of ways to help fund this trip. ESA and ELAC offer scholarships towards the trip, you can use financial aid, or find additional sources of income, and reducing expenses to help reach your goal.
Included in the program are a number of class options that will give you everything you need during your time there. The included classes are broken into two sections: a language part and a civilization part. Classes are divided by your level and you don’t need to be a French major to sign-up, everyone is welcomed. The classes are taught by the instructors from the program who came with you. They are some of the best, most caring, and kind-hearted Paris lovers you’ll ever meet. You’ll receive a very fun survival French course to teach you the essentials of living and communicating in Paris without feeling like a total tourist.
Depending on your level, classes are held at each dorm so you can roll out of bed in your pjs, stroll downstairs and be right on time. The walks and tours included with the program can even be done in French if you are up for the challenge. Overall whether you are taking it for credit or not, the classes are a great way to use what you learn to go out and explore. The program gives you plenty of free time after class to do what you want, you are free to get lost in Paris it can lead to great adventures.
(2019 activity calendar)
The most rewarding part of the program though is the overall experience from the people you meet. There is a reason why this program has many repeat students as the value of this program is unlike no other. As I was a commuting student to ELAC, this program allowed me to have the dorming experience I wanted, and being in Paris made it even more rewarding.
The friends you’ll make there will be special as you will have this shared experience and the memories and stories will be retold for years to come. You might even become best friends with your roommate and groups you hang out with it. I know I did and six years later we are still having adventures, all with people I didn’t know until I got there.
The 30 days will go by fast but in the end it will be a trip unlike no other. If you have the opportunity to go, do it, you won’t regret it trust me. When you look back on this trip you’ll see how worth it was and you might even end up like me a full fledged Paris lover.
If you know anyone who should see this, share it with them and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for all the updates on The Paris Connexion. Merci!