IES Abroad Nantes: 5 Program Benefits

Alexandra Zabalza headshot
Alexandra Zabalza
December 8, 2023
A foyer with access to a hallway and classroom decorated with streamers, couches, and a mirror.

Being abroad has been an unforgettable experience but I have had moments of homesickness and adjustment and have found constant support from the IES Abroad Nantes staff, center, and experiences.

The IES Abroad Nantes program has numerous resources and opportunities so I have done my best to list and describe them below to give a glimpse of what being in the Nantes program includes :) 

  1. The IES Center 

    I have included images but my community abroad has primarily been formed within the IES Abroad Center. The entrance where we all first met each other, where everyone waits to be let into their class, the place where everyone catches up with each other. The kitchen, busy around lunchtime but a place of vibrant conversation and culinary creations providing a fridge, microwave, toaster, and microwave oven, it also has a stove and oven which can only be used with permission or for classes/programming. The library, a place I have spent many hours with beautiful views and vibrance on sunny days. It contains hundreds of books relating to IES Abroad courses, areas of study, and miscellaneous and general literature in French. There is a coat room, 3 bathrooms, and a student lounge with a TV and musical instruments for those wanting to do more than just academics at the center :) The IES Abroad Nantes Center has truly become a home for me and it has been convenient having the staff, library, kitchen, and programming all in one place. 

  2. Faculty + Staff 

    The IES Abroad Nantes staff are fully committed to supporting their students from their programming to small conversations in the kitchen, they have always been open to hearing about our day and any new experiences or culture shocks we have had abroad. They know everyone's name and are always warm and supportive. They have made the transition to being abroad so much easier, from their communication before the semester started to their holistic check-ins on living abroad halfway through the semester. The faculty has also been understanding of our adaptation to classes, having primarily experienced American classes. I have also experienced classes where the professors foster community resulting in inside jokes and mutual discoveries as they teach French concepts and we teach American ones. For example, learning how to say Perry the Platypus in French (Perry l'Ornithorynque). 

  3. Tutrices 

    This Fall 2023 semester, I was oh so lucky to have the support of 4 amazing tutors as part of my IES Abroad program. They are French students of similar age who speak English and have been extremely helpful in my cultural and social adjustment abroad. There is a designated tutor to help us academically, supporting us in understanding concepts and helping answer our questions. Another tutor coordinates social activities throughout Nantes, encouraging us to be a part of the city and community. Finally, 2 provide cultural activities exposing us to treats, films, and more from Nantes and France as a whole. Their student perspective, support, and above all, their friendship are something that I will treasure forever. 

  4. Host Family

    One of the most impactful experiences while abroad has been my lovely French host family. From our shared meals to their genuine interest in my progress and well-being, they have become a comfort that I didn’t even realize I would need abroad. They have provided me with a home, cultural immersion, and personal support as I have adjusted to living abroad. 

  5. Excursions!!!

    We went on 4 weekend excursions, as a program, throughout Western France from the beaches of Normandy to the Loire Valley Castles. The IES Abroad Staff prepared itineraries for each location with a reserved bus to get to each location, guided tours, dinner reservations, and hotel accommodations for overnight trips! They also had 5 cultural visits throughout Nantes of which I got to experience les Machines de l’ile, a guided street art tour, an opera at le Theatre Graslin, an FC Nantes soccer game, and a guided tour of Le Château des Ducs de Bretagne! These were all included in the program cost, so I got to experience each trip with IES Abroad without paying for them unless I wanted souvenirs or snacks. 

It goes without saying, but the friends I have made within my program have been essential to my study abroad experience and have more than just my appreciation, but my whole heart <3

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Alexandra Zabalza headshot

Alexandra Zabalza

Hi! I'm Alex and I am studying Sociology, French, and Women's & Gender Studies! I will be studying in the Nantes Immersion Program to improve my French and gain a new perspective while abroad. In my spare time, I love crafts and watching new shows :)

2023 Fall
Home University:
Santa Clara University
French Language
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