Participant Testimonials

Read about current & past students' experiences abroad:

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 Ivy '22- Bordeaux

UPDATE COMING SOON!!!



Check-in with Ciza '22- Angers

UPDATE COMING SOON!!!



Check-in with Anja '22- Annecy

UPDATE COMING SOON!!!



Check-in with Ashton '22- Margency

UPDATE COMING SOON!!!



Check-in with Sam '22- Angers

UPDATE COMING SOON!!!



Check-in with 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

Check-in with 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.



Check-in with Lillian '21- Annecy

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Oregon State University


I’m so glad that I made the decision to come to France and learn more about the language and the culture. My French has gotten much better since being here and I think it is the best way to truly learn a language. Being immersed in the culture has greatly helped me become aware of little phrases and common things that the French do. It has been interesting learning about all the cultural differences and making comparisons with the US, how people act and what things may seem bizarre at first but are quite normal here. I think it is important to explore other cultures in order to keep an open mind and gain an understanding of how other people might think. Living in France has given me the opportunity to comprehend how the French think, and why the culture might be different from what I am used to. Sometimes stepping out of our comfort zones can allow us to learn and experience more in the world, and help us become more understanding as a person, which is an important strength to have.


I also want to talk about my personal growth. I have had so many incredible experiences already and have gotten to meet lots of interesting people, whether playing with street musicians by the lake, going on a school trip with my class, or dancing with friends at a concert. It’s easy to make friends when you’re alone and I can now just go up to people and start a conversation, something that was unimaginable when I was in high school. Being here on my own has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself and grow as a person. I have become more independent and confident and have been able to reflect on what I really want and need in life. Doing this gap year has helped me discover so many things about myself that I wouldn’t be able to do at college in the US. Unfortunately, time has already flown by and I’m about halfway through my time abroad in France. That makes it even more important to enjoy every minute of every day. I’ve tried my best here to really enjoy my life and say yes to every opportunity, which has made the experience more fun. I would recommend this to everyone as it not only helps you discover more about the language and culture but also yourself.


Check-in with 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!



Check-in with Crixtian '21- Angers

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Oregon State University


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.

Check-in with 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.

Check-in with 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!