Quest Exchange in France

Did you know that France is the most popular tourist destination in the world? Oui! Over 84 million tourists visit every year. Most stay barely long enough for a view of the Eiffel Tower, a taste of the country’s outstanding cheese, and some museums in Paris. Experts describe the importance of French food and eating as a way of ’emphasizing togetherness’ for its function of bringing friends and family closer together and strengthening social ties. Friends, family members and some colleagues in France greet each other with la bise – kisses on the cheeks. You’ll soon learn the number of kisses that are expected, as these vary from different regions in the country.

Discover more about France – here’s your chance to experience the true vie française!

3 Fun Facts
  • France is McDonald’s most profitable market outside the US, with more than 1,000 restaurants spread throughout the country.
  • Today, there are about a hundred train station pianos spread across France.
  • The camera phone was invented in France in 1997.
Program Dates

Year

Late Aug – Mid June

Semester

Late Aug – Late Feb
Early Jan – Mid June

Short-Term

4 Months
3 Months
2 Months
1 Month

SCHOOL LIFE

The French school year starts in early September and ends in mid-June. The Fall semester runs from early September through early January. The Spring semester runs from early January to mid-June. The school year is divided into three terms. About every 7 weeks, there is a 2-week break. The French high school, le lycée, is three years long. The first year offers a general program. The second and third year are specialized in one field of study (literature, social studies or science) and lead to the famous final exam, le Baccalauréat. The French educational system is known to be difficult but very rewarding, with a strong focus on developing critical thinking.

Lunch is taken at la cantine. The lunch break lasts at least one hour, but often two hours. The school day starts around 8 am and can end as late as 6 pm. Usually there is no class on Wednesday afternoons. Uniforms are not required, even in the private schools. French schools do not offer many extra-curricular activities, but towns offer youth clubs and activities.

FAMILY LIFE

Meals are important for families and taken together. Dinner is also time to share the day with the other members of the family. The word of elders is to be respected. In most families, both parents work, so help from the children is therefore very welcomed.

French families enjoy a great deal of traditions. If you are in France for the winter holidays you may try the Galette des Rois – a cake filled with almonds or apples, eaten in early January to celebrate the religious story of the visit of the three Kings to Jesus. On Mardi Gras you may try la Chandeleur – a crêpe made and tossed with a coin in hand to bring good luck.

The student’s experience will depend on the particular placement, since French traditions and lifestyles vary across the country. A high school year in Burgundy is different from one in Provence or Normandy.

Program Extras

Join a prep course to kick off your study abroad experience! Get an intro to the culture and language, and get to meet other international students that will be in France. A prep course can be added on for students in Saint-Malo every August or in Paris every January. Details about these programs are available upon request.

Placements may be in any region in the country, though requests are offered for the following areas for an additional fee: Brittany, Provence, Languedoc, Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees, Paris and its suburbs.

Three add-on trips are offered to students throughout the school year. Students receive invitations to these trips, which are to Paris with a visit to Disneyland in the Fall, skiing in the Alps in the Winter, and the warm Côte d’Azur at the end of the school year. Details and prices for these trips become available during the school year.

Several summer programs are also offered in France. These range from 2-4 weeks, and can take place in beautiful coastal St. Malo in Brittany, or the Arcachon Bay in the world-famous Bordeaux region. Students have 15 hours of French class per week, with 3 classes every morning in the level that the students test into. Afternoon activities are included and depend on location. Contact our office for more information on offerings, dates and pricing.

Program Requirements

Students must have at least 2 years of French language experience.

VISAS

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the French consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes six to eight weeks to obtain a French visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our French partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

Will students have access to Internet/WiFi at their home and school?

Yes, WiFi is free all over the country and is actually a legal obligation mandated by the government.

Can students bring their own cell phones?

Yes, if students have an unlocked cell phone, they could use their personal phone with a French carrier/SIM card or just use the free WiFi that is widely available across the country.

Can students travel without an adult chaperone if given permission?

Yes, students can travel outside of the host area as long as the required release form is signed by the natural parents, host family, local school, local partner office and Quest.

How much money should students have for spending money?

Students should budget around $150/month for personal expenses, which include entertainment, personal hygiene items, long-distance calls, etc. Additional money should be budgeted for start-up school expenses, such as books and supplies. These fees are in addition to Quest program fees.

What are some cultural norms that describe a typical host family in France?

French families are eager for a true cultural exchange. They want to learn about how people live in the U.S. and they expect the student to be fully engaged in family life. This means sitting down and eating a proper dinner with the host family, being present with the host family rather than being on a computer or cell phone talking to friends/family in the states, and being genuinely interested in French culture and sight-seeing. French families also expect American students to be polite, offer assistance in daily chores, and to be open-minded about trying different kinds of foods and activities.

How are host families screened and selected?

Quest’s in-country partner is responsible for locating, screening and matching host families with our students. Host families go through a careful screening process, which typically involves in-person interviews, home inspections and references.

How do students apply for the visa and how long does it take?

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the French consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes six to eight weeks to obtain a French visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our French partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

How will the student get to and from school?

Students will generally take the public bus, the cost for which is the student’s responsibility and is in addition to Quest program fees.

Is it possible for students to get tutors during their program?

Yes, tutors are available and prices vary based on the subject and duration of tutoring sessions. For French language tutoring, the cost would be approximately $20-$25/hour.

Can students receive an official document with grades and completed classes after finishing their program? 

Yes, every three months, students get an official transcript with grades. But, in order to receive this, students must complete all school assignments and take all exams. Students must be proactive about this, as obtaining this documentation is their responsibility before they leave France.

Do schools offer different sports/activities? 

Typically, French students do sports as an extracurricular activity at private clubs on Wednesday afternoons or Saturdays. This may vary, depending on the school, as some do offer one subject of sports during school.

THINK IT OVER

The rewards of life abroad are amazing and wonderful, but are you up for the unique challenges that come with this experience? You will be away from your friends, family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to. You will have to adapt to a new language, culture, school and family. You will have to make decisions on your own and make new friends. Think about it and do some research on the country you want to study in. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that can better prepare you for your adventure!

GET YOUR PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN ON BOARD

Your parent(s) or guardian(s) need to help you make your dream happen. The application process takes time and effort, so it is important, at this stage, to make sure your parents support your decision to study abroad and have given you approval to move forward. If they feel that you are prepared and understand what’s required from them, you are ready to move to the next step.

CHECK IN WITH YOUR SCHOOL

You may receive credit from your program, but it is your responsibility to make this happen. Only your U.S. school can decide which credits you can receive. You must approach your guidance counselor to determine if you can get the credits you are hoping to receive. Bring Quest’s Academic Guide with you, and be certain of what you will be responsible for.

CONTACT QUEST FOR PROGRAM INFORMATION AND PAPERWORK

Fill out our online information request form in order to receive important program information from Quest via email. This email will contain Quest’s Program Agreement and Program Guidelines for your review and signature. Carefully review all of this information with your parents and contact Quest if you have any questions. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can make decisions that fit your needs.

CONFIRM PROGRAM DETAILS

The Quest Program Coordinator will confirm with you the program details submitted on your original request form. If you’re unsure of your destination, we’ll help you narrow down your choices to the country and program season that works for you. We will speak with your parents and make sure that everybody feels informed and ready to proceed with the decisions made.

CONFIRM PAYMENT DETAILS

You and your parents will receive the online Payment Agreement, which states the total program price for your selected destination country and Quest’s payment process. Your parents will receive an invoice for the application deposit, which is due before you submit your student application.

COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION

Quest will send you a full student application for the program you have chosen. This application can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Make sure you give yourself ample time prior to the application deadline to complete the application and supplemental documents.

SKYPE INTERVIEW

This is when you get to meet your Quest Program Coordinator and talk face to (virtual) face. During the interview, the Program Coordinator will assess your suitability for the Quest Study Abroad program. This call lasts 30-60 minutes. Parents will speak with us at the end of the call, but the first part of the interview questions must be answered by the student alone. There is no preparation needed other than to talk about yourself, your desire to participate in the program and why you feel you are ready.

WAITING FOR ACCEPTANCE

Your Quest Program Coordinator will review your application and interview documentation to determine acceptance. Our team members put a lot of thought into the decisions they make, and not all students are accepted into the program. In order to make our decision, Quest must review complete and accurate application materials. We choose students who are emotionally, socially and academically prepared for the study abroad program. We look at each student’s level of maturity, independence and ability to adapt to life in a foreign country.

ACCEPTANCE AND INVOICE

You will receive a letter of acceptance from Quest via email. Your parents will receive an invoice outlining the total cost with only the first 50% of the total due within 10 days. The final 50% of the remaining program fees are due within 30 days of the invoice date.

GET LEGAL – VISA AND IMMIGRATION

This is a very important step in the process and can be very time-intensive. We suggest that you get started researching the requirements as soon as possible with the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as requirements vary by location. Because the process does vary considerably, Quest and our foreign partner office are not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application. Start filling out all of the paperwork well in advance, as visa approval can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to obtain.

SCHOOL AND HOST FAMILY PLACEMENT

This is the hardest part: waiting for your school and host family placement information! Making quality placements takes time, and we will need your patience during this important step. Quest will notify you and your parents of a confirmed placement in a school and then again when you are placed with your host family. Write to your host family as soon as possible to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are to meet them.

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT

Working together with you and your parents, Quest will confirm your arrival date and book your roundtrip international flight to your placement area. We will also book your student travel and medical insurance for your trip, so you can rest easier while abroad!

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION

Your Quest Program Coordinator will help you get prepped for your trip with a pre-departure orientation prior to your departure. You’ll receive an agenda before the call. We encourage you to write all of your remaining questions down so that we can make you and your parents feel prepared for your trip abroad. We will go over the program rules, what to pack, what to do if you need support once you arrive, and more!

LIVE YOUR STUDY ABROAD DREAM!

Congratulate yourself and your family for making this happen. You are on your way to the study abroad adventure that you’ve earned!

Balance your time abroad — keep in touch with those back home, but remember that the point of studying abroad is to be present and active in your host country. Keep a blog or an online photo album so you can show all of the revelations you have had and the sights you have seen. On a rainy day, you’ll be happy to reflect on your growing experience abroad. Stay in touch with Local Coordinators and with Quest. We’d love to hear how you are doing!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
  • 4 Months
  • 3 Months
  • 2 Months
  • 1 Month
Application Deadline
  • Year/Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st
  • Short-Term: Variable
Apply Now

Quest International, a nonprofit organization, promoting international cultural awareness and compassion by providing educational programs for American and International students to live and learn together.