Participant Testimonials

Read about current & past students' experiences abroad:

Check-in with Sam '22- Angers

DECEMBER '22


I have been in France for just over 3 months now and I cannot believe how much I have done already! The adjustment from life in the US to life in France was definitely difficult, but incredibly worthwhile. After a short time here I have already traveled to several cities in France, and have even driven to Belgium -- twice! Seeing things from another perspective has truly taught me a lot about myself; for 12 years I looked at life through the lens of a student, but now I am having to look through the lens of a teacher. While I may be 5000 miles away from my home in Oregon, I have made connections with people here in France that I am sure will last a lifetime. Being in France makes everything much more accessible; it seems as if everything on this side of the world is nothing but a train ride away!

I am now in my 2nd host family, the first family to not speak any English! This was tricky at first, but even after just a few days I felt my French get much better. Not only am I now able to speak French at a higher level, but I actually live here; I feel welcomed by my school, my students, my fellow interns, and of course, my host families. The chance to live a "second life" halfway across the world is one that I am extremely fortunate to have. Whether it's studying abroad, working, taking a gap year, or just a summer trip, I believe that it is very important to get out there and explore the world.

As for the future, I have big hopes! I am planning to go to more orchestral performances here in Angers, and also want to make the most of my travel time. I recently visited my sister in London for Thanksgiving dinner with her and her friends, which was very heartwarming. I was very happy to share photos from that weekend with my students as they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in France. Home isn't always as far as it seems! I have thoroughly enjoyed my first 3 months in France and I look forward to the new experiences I'll make this year!

Check-in with Emma '22- Cholet

November, 2022


There are many challenges that come with moving to and living in another country. Moving 1,300 miles from home forces you to navigate a new culture, fight off homesickness, and try your best to connect with friends and family back home despite the 8 hour time difference. Regardless of these difficulties, I have also made many new friends, explored new places, have learned to communicate with different people, and have massively improved my understanding of French.

Becoming a teacher has taught me so many things, including having a greater appreciation for my teachers and the time and energy they put into their work. Coming into this program, I thought that being an assistant teacher would be much different that what it looks like in reality. Since day one, I have been teaching my own classes with much freedom on the topics I discuss. At first, this task was daunting as I have years of childcare experience, but no experience in being an actual teacher (even less so for middle and highschoolers). After a few weeks, I felt a routine start to form and I had a better understanding of my responsibilities. At times I still feel overwhelmed as I am not trained as a teacher but still act as one. That being said, I have learned so much about myself in the short amount of time that I have been here.

I have also started tutoring a small group of students ages 6-10 in the local neighborhood. This has come to be one of the favorite parts of my week as I get to change up my lesson plans and gear them towards an audience that is happy with singing songs and coloring, rather than discussing marketing and the issues with mass tourism. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy teaching these topics too) I love being able to teach a little bit of every age group.

Meeting new people every day was something I definitely felt to be overwhelming at first, but I have come to enjoy this aspect of daily life. Once people find out you are from another country they are very eager to talk to you and discuss your experiences. This has been a handy way to practice my French while allowing other people to practice their (sometimes limited) English.

I was fortunate enough to be placed at a school with another intern from the Andego program. This has been a tremendous help during my time here as I have someone to go to for advice, bounce lesson plan ideas off of, and a built in friend. My living situation has me in an apartment with three other language assistant roommates, including Noely, another Andego intern. I have also been very fortunate in the fact that I get along very well with my other roommates and have come to appreciate the freedom and life skills that come with living in an apartment of four girls. This also means the hair in our shower drain collects very quickly!

The amount of independence I have gained from this experience will aid me in many areas of life. I am so grateful to have been able to take part in this program as it has taught me many valuable lessons. Gaining a better understanding of French culture and discovering cultural differences has been one of my favorite aspects of my time here. It's always interesting to learn which cheeses should be eaten with which foods, that meals should be at least two hours long, and that no matter where you go there will always be a bakery around the corner.

Check-in with Isabella '22- Angers- read her blog here

December 2022

Discovering Angers

As I have mentioned in previous blog postings, something I began to do immediately upon arriving in Angers was to explore what my new home had to offer. Now, nearly four months into living in France, I have found some favorite places, things to do, and local gems of Angers of which I will be sharing with you today!

FOOD

During the week, I eat the majority of my meals either at home with my host family or at the school where I teach, however I have found time on weekends or days where I don’t work to try new places to eat around town!


LOCATION BENEFITS


Being in France but Angers specifically has allowed me to make many day and weekend trips to neighboring cities and towns both with my host family and friends. I am very grateful to be living in Angers as it is extremely easy to explore different cities as everything is just a short train ride away! At the beginning of my stay in Angers, I met up with my host family at the beach in the town of Pornichet located on the coast just two hours away from Angers. Pornichet is stunning with easy access to the beach and coastline walks to neighboring towns! Coming from the Pacific Northwest, the ability to swim in the ocean and not freeze was incredible. More recently, I have been going to visit my friends who are also Andégo assistants in Cholet and Tours, as well as all taking a day trip together to Nantes. It has been fun and interesting to explore nearby cities and what they hold, as well as to see their similarities and differences. I am also extremely grateful to have my friends as travel buddies which for me has made the exploration experience more exciting than if I were to do so alone.


LOCAL GEMS AND ACTIVITIES

One of the things I love so much about Angers is all of the local activities and events they have going on for the public to see or participate in! It feels like Angers is trying to welcome people into the culture and educate as well. One disclaimer however, if you are not a big fan of large crowds, just know that these activities tend to be enjoyed by everyone in the city.


READ ALL OF THE DÉTAILS ON ISABELLA'S BLOG


November 2022

I remember before coming to France, when the topic of homesickness or culture shock came up, thinking to myself “I’m not going to experience much culture shock, it will be beautiful there and the food will be delicious, so I’m not going to miss that part of being at home.” To sum it up in three short words, I WAS WRONG.

When living in a different country, culture and language becomes exhausting after a while. Everything is new and exciting, especially in the beginning, but as time goes on one begins to miss the familiarity and ease of being at home. About a month into living in France I began to crave the comforts of home more than I ever thought possible. The first things I noticed missing were hugs from my parents, having dinner with them and taking my dogs for a walk. This evolved into missing my parents’ cooking, both my mom’s comfort food and the unusual dinner experiments my dad cooks up.

Along with missing my family and home, I was also deeply missing my close friends. While we are all having new experiences this year and they may be experiencing their own homesickness, my friends are part of my family and being away from them has also been very difficult. I am having all of these new experiences and it is hard to not be able to share them with my friends.


To push me out of my comfort zone, I decided to “say yes.” This was advice given to me and the other assistants during orientation, to “say yes” to new experiences, because who knows what unexpected and amazing adventures could lie ahead. After saying yes, I went to the beach for the weekend with my host family, I tried new foods - like escargot - for the first time, I went to local events with my host family and other assistants, I went to a Scouts event for my host sisters, and overall began having truly enjoyable new experiences and seeing incredible things I never would have had I not said “yes.”

Implementing “saying yes” into my days had a considerable impact on my homesickness, as not only was I having new experiences, but I was spending less and less time thinking about my family, friends and home. The most significant change I made and my biggest piece of advice to others is find the activities and places in your new environment that feel similar to your own home. To do this, first I identified specific activities or places from home I missed. For me these included dancing, playing piano, walking my dogs, and having a coffee shop that felt like “mine.” Next, I figured out which were possible to continue here.

Read the rest about Isabella's navigating homesickness on her blog

October 2022

My worries about adapting to a new living environment were short lived, as I fell in love with my host family almost as quickly as I fell in love with the city: immediately. Within a week of living in Angers I felt at home, and I continue to feel at home here today. I am very grateful to my host family and the network of acquaintances I have made at my school. It has all made the initial transition easier than I imagined it would be.


Living with my host family is considerably different from life with my family in Oregon. I went from being an only child with just my parents and my dogs, to being the sixth person in a house of five. Living with my host family, I now have three little “sisters” and a lovely geriatric cat. Living with a family with three girls under the age of thirteen has made my childhood dream of having sisters, a reality.

Although I quickly became comfortable and at home here in Angers, my uncertainty regarding being able to communicate adequately in French remained. When I arrived, I felt a sense of shyness around speaking French as I was more preoccupied with the accuracy of my words than actual communication. This did not last long however, as living in a new city where I am immersed in French quickly pulled the shyness out of me. While speaking French daily has not always been comfortable nor easy, I have learned to find humor in making language mistakes and to embrace them rather than fear them, as they are inevitable. Everyone here has been extremely kind in helping my French, whether that is through helping me find a word, or correcting my mistakes. I feel incredibly proud of myself being able to communicate my thoughts, interests, to talk about my life and family in Portland, and more importantly to be understood, all in French. The improvement with my language skills has been rewarding as my skills grow whether by faster comprehension or fluidity of my speech.

Now, seven weeks in, I continue to work on settling into my new role as an English assistant at an elementary school. I am beginning to find my own routine, and balance the time I am giving to others and to my work versus to myself. Every day is a new adventure here whether that’s with French, teaching, living with a host family, or just trying to find my way while being so far from the comforts of my childhood home. Every single day I learn something new and am incredibly grateful for this opportunity.


Read more about Isabella's time in France on her blog- isabellainfrance.com

Check-in with Noely '22- Cholet

November, 2022

Maybe don’t do this program. That’s what I had been telling myself a year ago when I found out about it and man am I glad I didn’t listen to myself! By no means was it because of the program, it had everything to do with my own doubts. Everything about this program immediately appealed to me! Travel had always been something that I wanted to do, but never had I thought that I’d actually do it anytime in the near future. I was a burnt out student who was applying to colleges because that was what I thought I should be doing. One piece of advice that I’d like to share is that it’s okay to have doubts or feel lost but you shouldn’t let them hold you back, because when you prove them wrong, it’s one of the best feelings ever! Tuning out my doubts was one of the best decisions I’ve made in life! Don’t get me wrong, it’s completely normal to have doubts when the idea of moving to another country is involved.

I’ve spent nearly three months in France now, 5000 miles away from my home, and it’s been such a surreal experience. It will be hard. You will feel like you have absolutely no idea what you are doing at times. But, you will figure it out. You’ll find solutions in other people, in yourself, in everyday that passes by. I’ve found that the key is people. During orientation I made some great friends and met my extraordinary roommate! I did not go the host family route, instead I get to live in an apartment on the school campus. Luckily enough, one of my roommates is also part of Andego, and having constant contact with someone who knows exactly what you are going through has been a blessing. I was scared that I’d be lonely but making friends in France has been so much fun. Getting out of your comfort zone is basically mandatory, but it’s completely worth it!

I live in a very uneventful town but the community makes up for it. Cholet is a very quaint town, similar to the one I left behind, but it’s become home. The staff here at Sainte Marie is amazing! My roommates and I were welcomed with warm smiles and hospitality! At times, it feels like a big family!

Language wise, there is always room and time to grow. I remember feeling completely out of place, language wise, in the first week. It felt very overwhelming but after a week or two, your mind will adapt to its new surroundings. I’ve struggled a lot with my three languages. I teach classes in Spanish, as it’s my first language. But it’s hard when my thought process is in English. Being surrounded by French gets confusing as well. So there have been many instances when I speak a mixture of all three. There will be occasions when I speak to my Spanish class in English or to my colleagues in Spanish or even to my mom in French. Nonetheless, I can confidently say that my French has advanced, and I can’t wait to continue my progress!


Check-in with Analee '22- Bordeaux

November, 2022


When I graduated, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do yet. I knew I wanted to go to college for language, but I felt like I hadn't gotten enough real-life experience. This created an uncomfortable hesitancy for me, but thanks to this program, I'll be able to pursue language next year without hesitation and with a whole year's worth of experience in the field I want to go into. An amazing experience isn't the only thing I'll be leaving here with, I've also made so many connections and met so many new people that encourage me to do what's best for me and help me along my journey. I've also gotten to experience an entire different culture first-hand and put my years of language to use in a much more meaningful way. Being able to share your culture with people and learning about their own culture is so eye-opening and it's allowed me to see the world in a completely different way. I would definitely consider this one of the biggest, but most rewarding risks you can take, as a recent high school graduate, or even a university student looking to find themselves.



Check-in with Ashton '22- Margency

October 2022

I have spent almost two months in France at this point, which is crazy to think about. So far this program has been a great experience for me! It is a great way to learn about French culture and really improve your understanding of the French language. I have already noticed a huge improvement in just two months! This program also gives you the unique opportunity to visit many other countries. I have already visited the U.K. and plan to travel to Germany next month!


Even though there are many upsides to this program, there are some difficulties. The main one is the extreme mental overload at the beginning. Speaking and hearing French for long periods of time can be very fatiguing, especially at the start. However, after a week or two you should be close to being fully adapted to your surroundings. Another difficulty is the distance. Being an ocean away from your family and friends can be very hard. However, you will meet a lot of new people who can become lifelong friends!


All in all, this gap year experience can be a great way to experience cultures and create new connections!

Check-in with Ivy '22- Bordeaux

OCTOBER 2022

Bordeaux is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. Everything is extremely picturesque and very cute ! I am constantly amazed that there are people living in these houses that look like they are straight out of a quaint Disney village. We are about a 30 minute walk or a 12 minute tram ride from downtown and I have adored getting to explore all the little stores and streets. I'm slowly learning how to navigate the tram system, however, as long as it is not raining, I have not minded walking places either as the scenery is so beautiful. For example when the tram was running late on Sunday morning I ended up doing a quick power walk to the cathedral to attend mass, and ended up discovering some very cool winding streets along the way!


I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing company as I settle in. I am living in the school's staff dormitory with two English interns also hired through Andégo and a German intern. We all have our own rooms and share a communal bathroom and kitchen/dining room. They are extremely fun to be around and oftentimes we all end up in either our rooms to hang out and chat. There have been two spontaneous dance parties thrown and a re-enactment of the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene performed by A. and I; she in the courtyard and I from my third story window. Also living with us on the weekdays are 5 men who are in charge of the students who are boarding at the school. They come to the school around dinner time and eat dinner with us at our staff table and have been very fun to chat with. There is also the cleaning lady who is very nice and talks a lot and is a little hard to understand, but overall very kind and looks out for us.


I began teaching Monday, 9/26, and had two classes in the morning of 6th graders. My first class was extremely quiet and well behaved, and the first row of students would help me with pronunciation or finding the right words to say. My second class was also extremely nice but very loud and enthusiastic about everything which I found hilarious. Everything I said warranted at least 10 follow up questions. I had a few moments of frustration when it came to quieting them down, however they were still very nice to me and extremely curious about everything. As of this week I only work on Monday, Thursday and Friday with 6th graders, however I have been reached out to by two other Spanish teachers about taking on some other classes so hopefully my schedule will continue to fill up. But I am really glad to be working and am looking forward to continuing to teach and meeting all my students. I am very impressed by their enthusiasm for the class so far and how well behaved most of them are.

Check-in with Ciza '22- Angers

OCTOBER 2022:

Moving to France is the type of challenge and adventure that will cause one to grow in multiple aspects. I have found that there are four areas of intelligence that are required and subsequently challenged. Among the four, three are absolute and failure to overcome the challenges (within these areas) may jeopardize the integrity of a person’s wellbeing. The remaining intelligence may or may not be a factor in the growing process, as one will have to choose to utilize the faculty of logic to solve problems. These [affected] faculties of intelligence are as follows [in their respective order], intrapersonal, interpersonal, linguistics and logic. One must have a sense of self, which naturally requires the intrapersonal faculty of intelligence. Furthermore, one must have a keen sense of others (pertaining to their respective state of being), which utilizes the interpersonal faculty of intelligence. One must be willing to adapt to the language of the respective land, which utilizes linguistic skills. Lastly, I have found that there is a constant need to logically process information in multiple areas of discipline as problems present themselves to be solved- which includes logically assessing problems in order to solve them. Personally, embarking on such a journey has proven to be quite the challenge- but one that lends itself with unforgettable experiences that have positively impacted my life. The [impression of the] cultural difference alone was a factor that couldn’t be anticipated. Like everywhere on earth, there are factions within a given country, and each faction will possess its own culture. Furthermore, each individual develops a sense of culture that best suits his or her understanding of life. Understand this before coming, while remaining open to experience an aspect of life that will most likely fall beyond the parameters of your own mind’s construct of life itself. Andego is designed to ensure that her participants are provided the tools and the support needed to grow. Robert Zenk is diligent in his work and serves as a great resource for support and encouragement. Despite the number of people he must manage, he remains to be a stable source of comfort and encouragement. Personally, my experience in France has been met with challenges that have forced me to redefine my reality and adapt in ways I could not foresee. However, the integrity of my being has [in large] been maintained by the wonderful experiences in the schools I am a part of as well as the comfort of knowing that Andego (directed by Robert Z.) is there to aid help in areas that I lack. I would not trade this experience for anything- as it is worth everything.

Check-in with Lauren '22- Tours

September, 2022


When I thought about moving to another country to teach English, even though I was excited, it was extremely daunting. However, even after such a short time I can officially say I love it here in France! I already feel like I have gained so much confidence and my French is improving every day. I never thought I would be able to stand in front of a class, order food at a restaurant in a different language or navigate myself around a foreign country all by myself but I continue to prove myself wrong. After such an amazing and surreal 4 weeks I’ve spent here so far, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!



Check-in with Abby '22- Cholet

September 2022

Time has ceased to exist here and I refuse to believe it’s only been a month. There’s something about discovering a new country that is just too surreal to put into words. The first week had me drained and exhausted, living out of a suitcase, and moving around constantly but so in love with every moment. My eyes stayed glued to the Cathedrals, beautiful old architecture, cobblestone streets, and cute, small shops, and I’ve spent too much money in those same cute shops. However, my new life here has not been easy; there is a lot of information that people assume I understood when they are all speaking over each-other in rapid French. The difference in culture is shocking and I often feel incompetent for not understanding what they expect of me. But with patience and an open mind, it’s possible to excel here, and I’m already improving. There are hard moments and realizations, but the myriad of positive experiences greatly outweigh them. I’m so grateful to have made the choice to take this gap year abroad!



Check-in with Anja '22- Annecy

UPDATE COMING SOON!!!



Emma '21- Bordeaux

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Studying Voice Performance & French at Oregon State University

Andégo Program Review:

I truly don’t know how many more good things there are to say about Andégo Internships Abroad. This program gave me the opportunity to completely change my life and surround myself in the dream life I always hoped I’d be brave enough to embark on. From Robert Zenk’s generous offer of resources, time, and support, to the surprise of finding out what city I’d be placed in, the entire application process, the internship, and everything up until now will be a year with Andégo that I will highlight as one of the best years of my life, for the rest of my life. The opportunity that Andégo gave me to go out and tackle real world challenges (i.e. interacting with your boss… but in a foreign language?!) and also experience the “vie française” that I’d be craving to explore for years helped prove to me that I am capable of so much more than I thought, and I am so much more confident and strong than I’ve ever felt before. From walking down the cobblestone streets of Bordeaux with a croissant in hand, to going to late-night French music festivals with newfound friends, to having my sixth-grade English students give me secret notes that say “You are the best teacher!” in French, my gap year with Andégo was truly a blessing, and I highly recommend Andégo to anyone who is even slightly considering taking a gap year. Trust me - it will be worth it.



August 2022:

Part I - The end of the school year


With all of the emotions I had already prepared myself to feel, one of the hardest ones had to be saying goodbye to my students at work. It's very traditional in France for students and even colleagues to give their teachers little end-of-the-year gifts, and the most memorable is, and forever will be, a t-shirt from my 5th graders that has "The American Who Is The Most French" written on the front, and all of their signatures on the back.


Needless to say, I cried when I pulled it out of the gift bag. I even promised them that I would wear it at the end-of-year festival, which I did, and I even decided to wear it on the 20-hour voyage home. Saying "au revoir" to all of my sweet, elementary students was tough, but even saying goodbye to my high school students was difficult. Throughout the year, I had the opportunity to get to know my older students, and learn about their passions for life, those who loved English told me they wanted to do something similar to what I was doing - it was just bittersweet. I could not have asked for a better experience for my first year of real adult life.


I've written a lot about my work environment over the last year, but I hope that by now you can understand that it truly was my family for a year - these people cared for me, watched me grow, invited me into their personal and family lives to impart my excitement and passion for their culture, and supported me through every new venture I took while I was there. To say that I miss them would be an understatement.


Read the full post at- https://www.emmatravels.org/post/one-year-later

Emily '21- Angers

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- University of Oregon

September 2021: I chose Andégo because as soon as I heard about the opportunity my sophomore year of high school from my French teacher, there was something telling me it was the right thing to do. It felt like France was calling me. everything about the program just felt like the right fit. Andégo helped me every step of the way, too. I would've been so overwhelmed without their help, from getting my visa, to packing lists!

I think this gap year is going to be really good for me. I needed more time to grow up, and believe me, being 5160 miles away from home and immersing myself in a completely different culture has been so eye opening for me. It just gives you a completely different perspective on life.

There have been struggles, missing my family, friends, and home, but that’s part of the package. You have to experience the life altering, difficult emotions of disconnection in order to grow. Starting a new life halfway across the world has been one of the hardest, and the best things I've ever done. I wouldn't trade it for anything else. Sometimes I feel like I'm dreaming and I have to pinch myself because I can't believe this is actually happening. I'm literally living in France. Me. This is real.



Lillian '21- Annecy

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Studying Biology at Oregon State University


ANDÉGO PROGRAM REVIEW:

This experience was incredibly valuable to me in terms of personal development and growth. I became a lot more independent and am more outgoing and confident. I am comfortable exploring on my own and love meeting new people and experiencing new things. I could tell that this trip changed me when I got back and one of my friends immediately said that I seemed more mature. When traveling on your own and living in a foreign country, I would say it definitely makes you more mature. I am very grateful to have had this gap year and I learned so much from it.

I also met many amazing people and was able to learn a lot about the French culture. One thing that I learned that made my experience more unique was how important protests were to the French citizens. I was able to participate in a lot of demonstrations for things I believed in and was able to travel around France to partake in them with my friends. We went to Lyon for a few protests and also hiked in the mountains to bring awareness to problems with climate change there. I was even able to play my trumpet there for people and they danced and everyone had a lot of fun!


Payton '21- Angers

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Studying environmental science in the honors program at University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

ANDÉGO PROGRAM REVIEW:

Getting to live with a host family and work in another country is such an immersive experience. Not only did my French skyrocket but I was able to learn things I never would have through a university or if I traveled there on my own. Any experience abroad is going to have its challenges so its important that you are prepared and are naturally flexible. Things won't go as planned and that's okay! It is just important that you know yourself well enough to see if it is something you can do.

Overall, I am so grateful I took the leap and decided to do this program. It helped me grow and learn in so many ways and I know it is just the beginning. Getting to do something like this so young is not easy but is so so worth it. I encourage anyone with a heart for exploration and community to see if this program is right for you.


November 2021: My time in France is an experience I will carry with me the rest of my life. I am so grateful I took this leap of faith. Adjusting to a new language, new culture, and new country was difficult at first. But 3 months has allowed the fruit of my labor to ripen, and it tastes very sweet! I can have casual conversations with teachers and my host family, and I am able to express my personality more in French. I also recently got connected with students at the University. They have been showing me the ins and outs of my town, places I never would have found on my own! Staying with my host family has also enabled me to travel. I have enjoyed seeing how everyone does life a little differently. Plus the food is pas mal du tout ;). If you are adventurous, aren’t afraid of a challenge, and enjoy learning new things, I would definitely see if this program is right for you. You can always go to college, but the world awaits!



Crixtian '21- Angers

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Oregon State University

Program evaluation:

The Andégo program offered me something I never would have thought would ever happen to me in my life. I never would have thought I would be going abroad. I am so happy and grateful that I was given the opportunity to go to France because now I have Friends all over Europe. I now have a family to go back to in France. I made life long friends who I can now call family. Also now I speak French! My French is now so good that French people think I am French! Teaching was so much fun as well! My most valuable memory would have to be when my students began to speak English while I spoke French to them. Overall a very great experience and I would do it again! Merci Andégo.

October 2021: School has been really good. I just recently started teaching English because they wanted me to take the first month to really get the French language in my head, which helped a lot because I can understand so much more. Usually I am able to understand what is being said in class and when I can't I have a notebook they gave me and I just write down phrases and translate them so I understand. In my free time I usually hang out with the host family or go hang out with Gaël (another Andégo participant).

I think for this upcoming break in two weeks me and Gaël are going to go to Paris and maybe get a place to stay the night. Also I have made a list of places that I want to visit and will start working on a plan to go to those places because many people tell me that they will be willing to take me somewhere as long as I tell them in advance.

As for school and taking classes, the other students and I are going to start going to a French class on Mondays and Tuesday this week. I’m excited for the classes. Everyone tells me my French has gotten way better after six weeks of being here. In fact of the other day the host family mom had her brother over and I was able to have a full hour long conversation with him and the host mom said "Ton français s'est amélioré parce que vous comprenez les blagues" “Your French has improved because you’re understanding jokes.” In addition this week I am going to Gaël’s school to give a presentation on Day of The Dead from the Spanish class with other Mexicans that are in Angers.

I started soccer in the beginning of September but I have not played in a soccer match yet. Gaël and I have just been training with the team every Wednesday and Friday. On the team I have met a couple people but they are just now starting to gain confidence to talk to me. Overall soccer is good for Gaël and I.

I will say I did go through a rough patch since my stay. I was with this family that didn't necessarily fit the requirements and it was not working out at all, so I told the director and I was able to change families. I guess you could say it took a while for me to really settle in and get comfortable. I really like the family I am with now and it has only gotten better and better since then.

Chloé '21- Angers

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Studying at the University of Oregon

ANDÉGO PROGRAM REVIEW:

Life has been very different than it is back home in Eugene, Oregon. I think my experiences abroad helped me become a better person and a more well rounded individual.

One of the things I like the most is my school! I like being able to use my creativity through planning and creating lessons. I also love improving my French with the kids. At my school, the students love hearing about my life in the states and American culture in general. The staff at my school are very nice and are always happy to work and talk with me. I have felt very supported by the staff at my school through all the challenges that can come with living in another culture.

My French language skills have improved a lot since arriving in France. I have learned lots of things that we would normally not learn in class. Some of these items are slang, how to text and how young people talk in general. With working in an elementary school I also get to hear how children speak and have learned a lot of vocabulary from them.

Another great thing is the freedom I have. I’m happy I get to travel by myself and see new places. I really am getting the feel of being an adult. The main reason I travel is to go to different anime conventions. I have been to 6 conventions since I arrived in France. The convention in Angers is where I met my closest French friend.

On the other hand, it has been a bit challenging to make a lot of friends my own age. It is true that I don’t need 100’s of friends, but it is also hard to rely on two or three people to be my whole social group. These new friends have full lives and other obligations. But, I’m grateful for the ones I have made and I know that we will be friends for a long time even after I go back home.

Even though my overall experience and growth was wonderful, one of the more challenging aspects was the loneliness I felt at times... Being in any new place can be isolating. It’s hard to make friends even when you speak the same language. Even in the US, I have found that it’s hard for people to make time for new people when they are already so busy. And the culture of what young people do for fun is different depending on where you live and your interests. For me, in the US, hanging out with my friends would usually mean talking and going to someone’s house. For French young adults, the main way of hanging out is going out to bars, which of course is not legal here in the US for 18-20 year olds. I willingly gave it a try, and quickly discovered that it is not my thing. Because of these small differences in culture it made it hard to connect to others. Along with this, although I love working in an elementary school, I don't get to talk to many people my age during the day. I know for the people who were placed in the Lycées (high schools), they had more opportunity to connect with people their own age, and make friends with those people. I also missed my home. My family luckily came and visited me twice during the year and 2 of my friends came and saw me.

Overall, living with a host family has been good and I appreciate them taking me into their homes, but it comes with challenges as well. I think the biggest problem was a disconnect in communication. I wish my host families had been more direct about what they expected of me. There are going to be clear cultural differences. I think some of my host families didn’t take into consideration that it takes someone to tell you that you’re making a cultural taboo and that you are wanting to learn...

I am super happy having tried all the new stuff that my host families offered. It was wonderful to see what the average French family eats every day. One of the families I stayed with was from Tunisia. I’m grateful I got to live with them and see a different side of France and what is considered French Culture and cuisine.

I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to improve their French, have a cultural experience and grow as a person. Even though it’s been a challenge, I am thrilled to have had this opportunity. I feel very confident in my French and am happy I can speak and understand how real French people speak and live. I’m grateful for all the lifelong relationships I’ve made with my coworkers, my host families and my friends. This experience will make you a stronger and more resilient person. Plus, you will have a better understanding of who you are and the things that are important to you in your life. Everyone should spend some time living in another country, and this program is an excellent opportunity to do so.

Léo '21- Annecy

October 2021: One of the first things I was asked about when I got into the country was “What do you think about Afghanistan?” This to me as an American was a shock, as I’ve never really been asked to talk about things like that in the states, at least in my family and among my friends, let alone with strangers like the French people who asked me this question. It felt taboo, completely alien to me. The first time I was asked, I was sitting next to an older woman on the train, and she blindsided me with the question. I had no idea where to even start. So I did my best to answer the question, but I didn’t know much. My answer wasn’t hugely satisfactory. Regardless, she was gracious and very curious, so she grinned through my attempts at wading through her language, and she continued to ask me questions.


Nevertheless, when I was first asked that question on the train heading to the school I’m in now, it was like stepping on a garden rake in the cartoons. I didn’t see it, how little I knew and understood, until I stepped into a conversation that forced me to think about new things, and as soon as I did I was hit square in the face by my ignorance of what was going on around me. Hearing the sentiments of French people was mind-bending for me.


Though it may sound like a lot, this is an incredible experience that has found me growing in ways that I did not know I could, and it’s revealed to me more about what I want to do and where I want to go than I may have ever found in the States. I love to speak with the students and to teach them as best as I can. The teachers and other staff are incredible, and I’m taught something new whenever I speak with them. Andégo has afforded me the opportunity to truly see at least one more part of the world in a way that I never would have been able to without it.

Maya '20- Annecy

Where are they now?: Studying at Macalester College in Minnesota


It’s hard to believe I’ve been home from France for a month and a half and am moving into college in just a few days! Looking back on my gap year, I have so many fond memories and feel so grateful for the whole experience. The time spent with my host family, traveling around Europe, and getting to know my students was my favorite. I already wish I could go back.

Like any experience, my gap year had its ups and downs. Living abroad was not always easy, especially with everything being closed due to the pandemic. Sometimes, I had a rowdy class and did not know what to do about it. Other times, I felt lost in the French language and culture. In the end, every slight difficulty was worth it and I grew from each challenge. My gap year has also made me feel more prepared for college and I can’t imagine my life had I not take the leap of faith and moved to France for the year.

My advice for future interns would be to soak up every moment! Living and working in Europe is an amazing adventure you’ll look back on for the rest of your lives. Try to embrace the uncertainty and discomfort as best you can and be open to every opportunity to try something new. It won’t always be easy, but it will be so worth it. Bon courage!

Éric '20- Annecy

Where are they now?: Studying at Stanford University


May 2021

The last couple months have been filled with ups and downs. In April, we went into a month-long quarantine due to COVID-19. I am so grateful to have such a kind host family, because I spent the month making memories with them. Living with a family in France has been my favorite experience by far; I’ve learned so much about the French culture and formed lifelong relationships with my host family. They’ve also been teaching me to cook a little, and I even made them a quiche last month. In May, we left quarantine and were able to travel to Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland. The proximity to different countries is something unique to Europe, and it was such a fascinating experience taking a 3 hour train ride and finding myself in a completely new country and culture!

The internship is going well now that we’re completely settled in, and I’m forming great relationships with my students. Teaching classes facilitates a unique cultural exchange where both parties benefit. I’ve built so much confidence by teaching in both English and French, which is a skill I’ll use for the rest of my life. I’ve also had a great experience taking classes in French, like geopolitics/political science and mathematics, which has been fascinating! In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to paragliding in the Alps, going on hikes, eating gelato, and, this summer, traveling all over Europe!

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have about the program via Andégo's participant forum!

Ellie '19- Viry-Chatillon

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Studying technical theater at Rose Bruford College in London, UK

After spending nearly 4 years studying French in high school, it was time for me to go to college. Only, there was one slight issue- I didn’t feel like I had found the perfect college for me. That made this the perfect time to look into my dream of spending time abroad to learn about another culture. With the level of French I had and my past experiences teaching and assisting in various class settings, I was a great candidate for English assisting in France! Once I found a school placement I was excited about and completed my paperwork, it was time to go.

During my gap year I was able to visit fourteen European cities before my time was cut short due to Covid-19. Considering many of my trips were repeat visits to London, since I expected to have four more months of time to go everywhere else, I am more than satisfied with where I went. I got to see so many places I never dreamed of going- especially at this age. In each new place I got to see monuments, meet people, try new foods, and heighten my global understanding.

In school, I worked primarily with 15-16 year old students in their “English conversation” class. We talked about everything under the sun in our sessions, them asking me questions about life as a young person in America, and me doing the same about France. While not in class, I practiced my French as often as I could with the other students and staff at the school. I was able to learn so many words and phrases I probably never would have without being in this immersive program.

As with most things in life, my gap year had a few big surprises. The pandemic unfortunately cut things short right when I felt at home, but I will still be forever grateful for the time I had. The second, arguably bigger change happened slowly. I had initially deferred from an American university, planning to go back and study Technical Theatre and French, but upon my arrival in London the first time, I knew that was my home. I spent four months quickly researching and applying to schools and altering my future plans. While not directly related to foreign language, I am now at one of the best drama schools in the U.K., all thanks to my initial time abroad last year.

I think I grew in many ways from my time in France, but the most important to me are the independence and confidence I gained. I now feel comfortable travelling alone to foreign countries where I may not speak the language, and was able to make the leap to move to London by myself because of my great experience living abroad in France. Bottom line- if you want to make lifelong friends and memories, expand your cultural and language knowledge, and travel to cities you never dreamed of seeing, an internship abroad is for you.

Maya '19- Tournon-sur-Rhône

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Studying Graphic Design at the University of Oregon

My gap year experience in France was probably the best experience of my life - I’m so grateful to have studied French and been encouraged to take a risk and spend a year abroad. There were definitely challenges, but the lessons I learned and the great experiences I had made it a year that I will always cherish.

Firstly, I think an experience like this taught me so much in terms of being a global learner. I consider it to be an incredibly valuable part of my growth as a person - it was certainly a year on and not a year off. Spending a year in France helped me achieve fluency in French (that I could not have achieved by not having this immersive experience) and helped me build the confidence necessary to speak with new people from other cultures in another language. I worked through challenges of miscommunication and came out of it having learned so much and having made great friendships with my co-workers, students, and host family (I still keep in contact and hope to see them again one day!) Furthermore, I feel that I’ve been able to carry the communication and adaptation skills I built while in France into any new environment, and use them to connect with people and succeed. Even during my first term of college, I have seen how these skills have helped me quickly adapt and thrive in my new environment - and being able to say that I have worked abroad has definitely helped me gain positions and start interesting conversations!

This experience not only taught me a lot about French culture, but it gave me perspective on my own life in the United States. Stepping outside of my comfort zone and lifestyle by living in France helped me re-evaluate the way we live in the United States by seeing differences in the way we eat, our family dynamics, our traditions, how we live sustainably and how we learn in school! I got to learn about the role the United States plays in the rest of the world through my conversations with people from all over the world who I met through my job or while travelling.

Lastly, through visiting different countries during school vacations, I became comfortable with travelling to new places and speaking to new people of all backgrounds. The beautiful places I saw and the friendships I made have only fueled my desire to continue exploring the world and create more global connections. All this to say that I’ve learned there is an entire world of wonderful possibilities and valuable experiences to be gained from living abroad!

See Maya in the French news here!