Read about current & past students' experiences abroad:
Aliyah '23- Margency (Paris)
Angeles '23- Margency (Paris)
Landry '23- Cholet
Marsela '23- Troyes
Frances '23- Angers
Venice '23- Saumur
Where are they now?: Studying at George Washington University in Washington DC
CHANGING HOST FAMILIES
Prior to the end of year holidays, I let my school director and host family know that I was ready for the transition to a new host family. This is not an unusual request and actually part of the expected Andego experience. Teaching assistants may have more than one host family during their academic year to learn about French culture through multiple family experiences. I was with my original host family for a little over four months in total, which is longer than they had originally agreed to host me. I am very grateful to the family for hosting me for that amount of time and especially for the time right after I arrived. Living with them helped ease the transition of moving to a new country, across the world from my friends and family. I made a lot of memories, especially with my three younger host sisters whom I grew close to soon after my arrival in their family. Living with them was a great introduction to French culture and family life and again I am very grateful to them and for all of the experiences I had living with them.
At the time I started this post I had been living with my new host family for about three weeks. Household and family dynamics are different, as my host siblings are a little bit older than my host sisters of my previous family. Along with this, I now have host brothers! We have game days and movie nights, dinners where we sit and just talk for hours and take day trips as a family! One weekend, we wanted to do something altogether but also get out of Angers for the day, so we took a spontaneous day trip to the beach. It was winter cold but a great experience. We had lunch together and then spent a couple of hours walking on the beach and talking; some excellent bonding time.
Changing host families is not one simple experience but rather a culmination of multiple. You have three changes when changing host families just as with moving, the physical change, emotional transition and adjusting to a new routine and family culture. It takes time to become comfortable again after these changes, but in the end you learn so much more from it! Everything about the move and transition went smoothly and for that I am very grateful. My family has been generous in including me in family activities and weekend adventures, as well as introducing me to new foods and showing me new and beautiful places. I continue to grow closer to my host family, especially my host siblings. We have built our routine all six of us, which I cherish. I feel very at home with them and it has been an incredible experience living there so far.
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.
Emma '22- Cholet
Where are they now?: Studying journalism at the University of Oregon
Andégo Program Review:
During the 11 months that I spent participating in this internship, I visited 6 countries, learned how to take on the role of a teacher, made lifelong friends, made professional connections, learned how to be a good roommate, how to balance social life with work, and learned who I want to be. While there are many challenges that come with living abroad, it is also an invaluable experience that I encourage everyone to take part in at some point in their lives. While I was initially nervous to make such a big life change directly out of high school, I quickly adapted to the French culture and lifestyle in order to immerse myself as best as I could.
Traveling was something I found easy to plan throughout the year as I could simply take a train 20 minutes away from where I lived, and there was a new place to discover. Being open-minded is very important when taking part in an experience like this in order to really explore a new place. I really enjoyed solo traveling for the first time but I also think it was great to find friends to travel with who were interested in similar experiences. Finding a good group of people is key to making an abroad experience work.
My colleagues were incredibly helpful and welcomed me to their school. They helped me throughout the year both in and out of school settings. I still communicate with many of the teachers I worked with even after being back in the US. Teaching was something that didn’t necessarily come easy to me when I first started. I did a lot of lesson planning and tried to figure out how to cater towards different age groups. By the end of this program I realized that the “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality really worked for me. Faking the confidence I didn’t have in front of a group of 30 plus students led to developing real confidence in my lessons by the end of the first few months. I found that as long as my students were having fun, asking questions, and learning at least one new thing each day, I felt that I was doing my job well. Collaborating with other interns and teachers was something I also found to be useful.
I think the biggest thing that I took out of this year was learning more about myself and what I want to do with my future. Before I left for France, I had no idea where I wanted to go next or what I was going to study. While in the end, I did realize that I don’t want to be a teacher, it was still great to participate in this program. The most valuable things I learned were how to become independent and how to adapt and be open to change. This program changed my life!
Sam '22- Angers
Noely '22- Cholet
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.
Analee '22- Bordeaux
Ashton '22- Margency
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!
Lauren '22- Tours
Andégo Program Review:
It’s hard to imagine that this time last year I was beginning my gap year journey and now I am writing about it in hindsight! This past year has been fun, exciting, scary, hard, sometimes lonely but at the same time filled with so much love. I couldn’t have anticipated all the places this year would have taken me. Honestly, going into it I thought teaching English would be a breeze…how hard could it be, right? There were definitely many challenges that came with teaching that I had to take on as I went along, but so many rewarding moments. I loved all of my students and I couldn’t have asked for a better group. But standing in front of a bunch of teenagers waiting for you to teach them something was incredibly daunting at first and I doubted my ability to even do so. Then slowly, day after day, week after week, and after every funny, silly and endearing conversation with my students, what seemed impossible became second nature. On top of that, I was fortunate enough to make a group of amazing friends who I will never ever forget. There is something so special about the friendships you build during these types of experiences. We’re all so far away from home and in a weird and exciting place in our lives so they quickly become like your family. We travel together, experience things for the first time together, eat, laugh and cry together and make beautiful memories. This experience is something I will never regret and I feel has changed me forever. I learned new things about myself and did things that I never thought I would or even could do, that I will now carry with me into the future. I can’t wait to tell these stories to my family and friends in years to come.
Kayla '22- Margency (Paris)
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Completing general education classes at Elgin Community College (IL)
The decision to intern abroad with the Andégo Program was the best one I’ve made yet. To say that I am heartbroken that there was an expiration date would be a gross understatement. This program opened up so many doors for not just myself but my fellow friends from the program. We got the opportunity to build relationships with our students and our co-workers, as well as the host-families we were placed with. Also, having the opportunity to explore other countries was an added SUPER bonus. I can’t speak for all the other Andégoites in this aspect as I don’t 100% know their experience, but I got to travel with the 2 other interns in my region to 3 different countries, as well as numerous parts of Paris in exploration and food searches, and that was amazing in itself. To have other you can relate to and share adventures with was gratifying. These are connections and relationships I know I will have for life.
But of course, it wasn’t all roses and daisies. In the first couple months I questioned my choices and wondered often if I’d made a mistake, and there were plenty of days during the year when I just felt out of sync with everything, my family, my co-workers and just my surroundings in general. And though the check-ins with Andégo and my family helped, I feel like it was a learning experience that needed to happen on my own, in order to understand that sometimes it’s just life, and not everything will be as perfect as we expect it to be. So I would say to someone that is considering this program, it’s okay okay to ask as many questions as you want and be as cautious as you need to be a well, also, try not to put too many ‘what if’s’ I to your thoughts. Don’t even expect it to be the most perfect experience of your life, either. Just go with the flow, because there will for sure be days you don’t expect to overcome, and things you didn’t think you’d need to deal with. But those days will be few and far between, and with them you gain a little more knowledge of yourself and the world around you, with a little French cherry on top!
Ivy '22- Bordeaux
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.
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!
Lillian '21- Annecy
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?- Studying Biology at Oregon State University
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
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 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:
Léo '21- Annecy
Where are they now?: Studying at Reed College in Oregon
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.
Maya '20- Annecy
Éric '20- Annecy
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!