• Do most kids on The Village speak French, Spanish or at least some of either language before the program?

    No. If you don’t speak any French or Spanish at all you will fit right in with our average student. Some of your classmates will have had high school French or Spanish. Some will have had a semester or two of one or the other in college. We don’t require you to study either language with us, but we sure will encourage you study French. Where and how better to learn it than to be in the country where native speakers are everywhere!

  • As a student of color, I have no problem being a pioneer and working toward success in any environment I find myself in. But am I going to be the only student of color on The Village?

    No. Our students of color report not just that they feel at home within Village community right away but also that they are accepted with a warm welcome into the larger French and Spanish communities as the semester progresses.

  • My parents never say yes to things like The Village How should I even bring it up to them if I really want to go?

    The Village is a big thing for parents to understand and support. Most of our Village parents are concerned about the price of the program, whether the classes will help you if you go and how safe you will be when you are in France. Further, parents want to know for sure that this program really is right for you and something you are passionate about. Each family situation is different, even if many parents do share the same concerns. Our staff and professors will always tell you this: speak to your parents early in your thinking on The Village and ask for their blessing and encouragement. If possible, speak to them as soon as you know that this program is what you want to do. If at all possible, speak to them very clearly about how you will pay for the program, why you want the kind of experience The Village offers, and what you yourself can commit to in terms of getting ready to go.

  • Do I need a passport to do The Village? If so, how do I get one?

    Yes. All travel to Europe requires a valid passport. Go online as soon as you apply for The Village and apply for a passport, if you don’t already have one. The delivery time is about six weeks.

  • My parents are worriers. What can help ease their minds so that they know I will be OK at The Village?

    The Village has (at least) three full-time staff people, and 3-5 full time professors for the 20-25 students who participate each year – we work 24/7 to ensure that you are well taken care of as we also work with you to help you gain more confidence and self reliance. Our professors and staff won’t be your “mom” and “dad” for the three months of the program, but we will never treat you as a number or as someone we don’t know well. Meanwhile, we will also work to provide that extra (gentle) supervised “push” to get your confidence and competence up when it comes to managing yourself well while abroad. Countless parents report to us each year that their “new and improved” Village kid has come home changed for the better in terms of overall maturity, responsibility, academic passion and attitude.

  • Will there be help my parents and I can get as I count down to starting The Village?

    Absolutely. Students and parents are always invited to our web sessions pre-departure. In fact, we require you as a student to join our three sessions either in person or online. The usual sessions are: “Getting set for The Village” (session offered twice): the basics concerning financial aid, completed applications, class planning, International Student Identification Cards; “The Village: Student Life, Academics Abroad and Travel Planning”; and “ The Final Countdown: What and how to pack, the trip over, arrival and on-campus orientation”

  • What about once we get to France? Will there be a lot of help for me in my first few days settling in?

    Yes. You will join all of your fellow students and faculty in a two day orientation that will get you started with gusto in a well-rounded Village life. You will get help on everything from how to succeed in your classes, how to budget and travel, how to handle conflict if it comes up among your fellow students and how to increase your own sense of confidence when facing new challenges and opportunities. Not only will you get this help informally from our staff and faculty, but you’ll get formal help too through our required course in Intercultural Communications.

  • How will I get to The Village once my flight lands in France? Am I going to get lost the very first day?

    Getting to the Village is easy! Students are met at the Paris airport train station and come down together by the miracle of the French TGV (bullet train.) From our nearby train station, we get you easily to our home base in France.

  • I have no experience traveling at all. Can I do The Village?

    Most of our students each year are total beginners to travel. By the time they have done the program, they can and do go anywhere they want. We start your trip off right, by picking you up at CDG airport in Paris. Then we show you exactly how to use the French train system and make your own plans to do weekend trips. Further, our professors and staff work with you from the first week to help you plan JUST the fall break that is right for you. Our students tell us every year that their best times on the program happened when they had to improvise while traveling. We teach that too, so that you know how to “keep calm and carry on” like a travel pro when things inevitably get frustrating.

  • My family isn’t rich, but we don’t qualify for great financial aid either. Is The Village out of my reach?

    Most of our students finance all or part of their Village semester via loans and other financial aid packages. The average cost for students who attend the universities and colleges that have cooperated in the founding and development of the program is about $10,800 per semester. This figure is less at some schools and considerably more at many others. To finance this sum is no easy matter for most families. That’s why The Village is so special as a study-abroad semester program. Because our average student—including all fees for The Village, all spending money, meals, travel and plane ticket to France—typically spends only a little bit more for the program than the same semester costs to stay at home.

  • The Village is going to cost more than what studying at home will cost. What does my program price get me?

    Your program price pays for your tuition (up to 18 hours), your housing in France, on Journey and in Spain, your lunch each weekday of the program in France, one dinner each week in France, your Paris and London metro/tube transportation for your Journey Class, your transportation from Paris to London for Journey, required academic museum visits and excursions, your use of The Village’s scheduled car and van transports to and from the local train station in France.

  • My parents say no for a living. I can’t do this without a yes from them. How do Village students get their parents to like this program?

    Our students speak to their families from the heart about what The VIllage is any why they really want to join this community. The Village should be a passion for you, something that you’re personally very excited about and willing to commit to doing. Our program parents tend to respond to the passion they see in their students. In you. So if you mumble and mutter about wanting to maybe go to Europe for a semester, they are likely to see this as a half-baked idea you will soon forget. But if you speak to them seriously about how much you want to learn in Europe for a semester? Then if you show them how the academic classes you’ll be taking will add up to a whole semester of credits? And finally if you show them the budget for The Village, comparing what it will cost you to stay home versus the manageable extra amount you’ll pay for The VIllage? Your parents are the same folks who attended your soccer games They’re the ones who supported your ballet classes or the summer camps you wanted to do. They hosted your birthday parties. In the end, we are all pretty similar as parents in that we want deeply for our kids to feel connected to the world and to their most well considered passions. Do you want to come to Europe on The Village? Is this program worth your personal investment? If so, then your parents and wider support network of friends and family will likely endorse and even appreciate an adult decision you’re deeply wanting to make.

  • Do SOPHOMORES really do The Village, or is better to wait until junior or senior year?

    Sophomores are in the majority of every Village class, so if you are a freshman in your spring semester when you decide to go? Welcome to the club. Our experience shows that students who wait to study abroad tend not to study abroad. The reason for this is hard to say, but we do know that students tend to select a major by sophomore year and then dig deeply into a specific field that often comes with a “lock-step curriculum,” where exact classes must be take in an exact sequence. Getting out of a curriculum like that to follow a dream and study abroad is easier said than done after freshman year. So instead of taking core level courses back at your home university, come to The Village with our other freshmen and take the same courses with Europe as your classroom.

  • Nobody in our family has traveled or ever done anything like The Village before. Is this program for other students who come from other families?

    No. The Village parents and families we get each year are in the majority new to an experience like The Village. Many of our families have a first generation college student. Most of them have not traveled outside of the USA much or at all. So The Village is a huge, new experience not just for the student who goes but for a whole network of supportive family and friends.

  • What if my financial aid office at my home school seems clueless and not helpful. Do I give up and forget The Village?

    Many financial aid offices are new to working with study abroad students. Our staff associated with The Village Program is not new to this work. Contact us to get help if you feel like your own school’s office is giving you a brush-off sort of answer to your questions. Every year, students afford The Village through loans of all sorts, from institutions all over the USA. You can make it work, too.

  • Beyond traditional government student loans that I have heard about through my financial aid office, are there other loans I can get to make The Village happen for me?

    Yes. Google parent-plus and other study abroad program loans online. There are products tailored to what you want to do on The Village. You may need your parents to co-sign a special loan to make your Village dreams come true. But remember: they are probably the same folks who went to every one of your piano recitals and football games. They were at your ballet recitals and took pictures at your prom. If you are serious about The Village and want it with all of your heart, you will be able to finance the experience.

  • What will I need to spend beyond the program price?

    Beyond the program price, you will spend money on an international plane ticket, your extra meals, weekend trips, VisionQuest, gifts and miscellaneous.

  • Does everyone spend about the same amount of extra money, beyond the program price?

    No. Student budgets vary widely. Some students live well on The Village for $3000 more than the program price, because they are careful budgeters and focused in where they want to travel and how they want to get there. They also exercise discipline when it comes to their “going out” money. Others can and do spend $3500 or even more than the program fee. What with the cost of tattoos, piercings, parasailing in the Alps and scuba lessons in the Mediterranean—not to mention Paris handbag shops where a tiny purse is said to be a “deal” at $10,000—ways to overspend abound.

  • Do the staff or faculty of The Village help me to manage my budget, so that I can do what I want and not come home having spent beyond my means?

    Yes. Our program orientation looks closely at your budget challenges and helps every student to set up a good budget that will allow for an affordable and well-planned “dream” semester in Europe.

  • Are scholarships or other “free money” out there to help me do this program?

    Yes. The Village awards about 25 Henry Mackaman Awards, ranging from $500 – $2000 in value. These awards are available to any Village applicant from any university in the USA. Additionally, students who hail from the University of West Florida can apply for one of UWF’s Village Scholarships. These awards vary in amount but are typically at the $2000 level. Finally, there are nationally-based awards you can seek, but these are competitive and usually award small amounts of money. Talk to your home institution’s financial aid counselor for help here, but also do your research online to widen the net you are casting as you look for scholarships. Each year there is a wide array of scholarships that go unfunded, because nobody applied for the money. Look, find, apply, get! You can start your search for additional scholarships by visiting:
    www.studyabroadfunding.org
    www.studyabroad.com/scholarships
    http://www.iie.org/Students

  • What about money while abroad? Do I need a bank account over there?

    No. Just like the rest of Europe, France has ATM’s everywhere. Just put your debit card in, enter your pin as you do back home, and voila! You will have brand new Euro notes shot out into your hand, ready for use. Our local grocery store in Pontlevoy also accepts your ATM card, as long as you are charging more than 10 Euros worth of goods. (About $12)

  • What is the Loire Valley like to live in as a region?

    The Loire valley was chosen by the kings, queens and others of the French aristocracy to build their great chateaux back in the late middle ages and the Renaissance. Since then, tourists and others have agreed that the valley is lovely and unique as a place to visit and live. No part of France—a country that annually is listed as the top travel destination in the world—sees more tourists each year than the valley.

  • Do I have classes on weekends on The Village?

    Only exceptionally do we hold classes on weekends. When we do, it is usually during JOURNEY. There may be exceptions to this, but we will always try to let you now about these well before you’ve planned any travel or other reasons to be away.

  • Do we have host families on The Village? If so, do we live with them or just socialize?

    The Village sets up host families for those students on the program who really want to connect with locals and work hard on the their French or their Spanish or both. Students who elect to have a host family do not live with that family. Rather, they enjoy meals and outings together. Many Village students report after their semester that having a host family was one of their real highlights from the program.

  • Do we have laundry machines?

    Yes. There are free laundry machines on the students’ dorm floor. They aren’t commercial grade and are prone to very slow cycles. Students lament the quality of laundry machines all over Europe, including ours.

  • My parents and maybe even my boyfriend might want to visit me on The Village. Is that possible?

    Each semester some of our students discover that their parents want to join them for a visit. Or maybe a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend decides to invest in a short trip over. Our suggestion here is that visitors come during one of your VisionQuest trips.

  • Is there WIFI where we stay and is it fast like what we are used to in the US, so that we can do our VIllage Online Classes with relative ease?

    Yes. But be prepared to use facebook and the internet in general less than you do at home. Not only are our classes and your travel plans going to keep you busy, but The Village will call loudly to you and ask you to leave your room, get out and meet your new neighborhood. Be patient with the connections and their reliability wherever you go in Europe. The buildings’ walls are more than 4 feet thick in some places. Wifi hates that environment. You will have slower WIFI in France generally and much faster in Spain. We will encourage you to save what you can of your Village Online Courses for our final month in Spain, because your Wifi will be more reliable in general.

  • What will my Village dorm room be like?

    In France, Village rooms are all triples or quads and some will sleep five. On Journey in Paris and London, dorms are center city youth hostels and usually have bunks for 8-15 students. In Barcelona, many rooms will be doubles.  All rooms have bathroom facilities either in room or just down the hall.

  • Should I take my US phone The Village? What about my laptop or iPad?

    Contact your US cell carrier and find out about what plan you can get for basic coverage overseas in case of emergency. Then bring your U.S. cell for setting up skype calls or purchase an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone for use while you are on The Village.  Also be sure to do your research on the best apps to get that keep your cell charges down.

  • What about meals that the program price includes? What are they like?

    The program includes a lunch each day we are in our small town in France. When we are on Journey in Paris and London, you will get breakfast instead as you will, too, in Barcelona.

  • How do we manage our others meals on The Village, beyond the ones the program provides?

    You will learn to cook on The Village if you don’t already know how to do it, because our old kitchen is a fun place to try some real cooking, sometimes for the first time. Your fellow students may come from the Midwest, the East or the South. Regardless, they will bring with them recipes and ways of thinking about food that will temp your taste buds. Not to mention the fact that the food to be found all over France and Spain will make you want to learn more about cooking. Try a simple French breakfast of a croissant and half a baguette. Then for dinner, organize with a few fellow students to roast a chicken, make a salad, fry some potatoes and feed about 4 of your for about $4 each. And when in Spain, get going with some Tapas.  Dinners are almost free if you order any kind of beverage and are ready to have an open mind about what you try.

  • Does The Village have internships during or after our semester there?

    You won’t intern during The Village or work for money either.

  • What kinds of things happen outside of class during the school week on The Village?

    You will not be bored on The Village. Beyond schoolwork, there are trips to plan and friends to connect with all around you.  In France, you’ll have a small town and its charms to meet. Before heading out on VisionQuest and then Journey to Paris and London.  In Barcelona, there’s never been a bored person, ever.

  • If I don’t travel on weekends, what is usually going on back at The Village?

    Students have a huge amount of homework to manage every week, so non-travel weekends are a great time for you to hit the books. Otherwise, the program offers cheap weekend fun and discovery through the different daytrips our faculty often organize. For about $10 you can take off for a day with a few other Village kids and a professor in our van or one of our cars, taking in the fun and excitement of cities like Orleans, Chartres, Anger or Tours.

  • If I get sick or something happens to me health wise over there, what do I do?

    There are physicians and pharmacists available to help you wherever we are on The Village, plus we have our staff and faculty to translate and otherwise help you to get care that you need. We counsel you about how to stay well on VisionQuest and how to get help and help your travel companions if sickness knocks on the door. Doctor visits in France, England and Spain—due to the socialized medical system—are cheap. So are prescription medicines if your doctor visit indicates that you need them. The average doctor visit costs about $30 and in most every case the study-abroad insurance you buy in conjunction with the program covers all of your healthcare costs.

  • Is Pontlevoy a safe town? Is The Village a safe program?

    Pontlevoy is a tiny town with next to no crime ever against anybody. Our students have never had a problem with crime of any kind in 10 years. Still, we will ask you to take security very seriously in Pontlevoy and while you travel. Our iron gates close and lock each evening at the same time. You will have keys and be taught to always make sure that the gates are secure after you’ve gone through them.

  • What about in Paris and when I am traveling? How safe am I going to be then?

    The Village will ask you to take your own safety very seriously. Our professors and staff will work with you over the course of your first weeks in France to think carefully and smartly about how to be safe when you are on your own, in Paris or traveling. We will help you to understand how to be safe in a group, how to manage yourself in cafes and bars, where to watch most closely for possible issues of safety and how to make careful travel plans. Our goal will be to teach you awareness and vigilance, as our program moves from tiny Pontlevoy up to Paris and then onto JOURNEYcourses and Fall Break. Beyond the counsel and coaching you will get from us, The VIllage will also insist that you carefully fill out your “away” travel forms, so that we know where you are going when you do travel. Finally, we will counsel you carefully about what to do in the event of any international incident that might occur while you are traveling. Our experiences with hundreds of students over many years shows that our system works, as we have never had a student be a victim of any serious crime either in Paris or while traveling.

  • What is Pontlevoy, France like? Is the village easy or hard to feel at home in?

    Pontlevoy is a tiny village of about 1500 people. You will know your way around in 2 days. And in a week you will know the owners of the café, the bakery and the folks who work at the post office. If you are like most students, Pontlevoy will become your “home” over the semester, so that leaving it in December will feel harder in many ways than it felt to leave your real home in September.

  • How hard is it to learn how to do my Village weekend trips in Europe, if I haven’t been there before and how much if any planning will i need to do for my VisionQuest trips?

    Travel in Europe is easy to figure out and affordable to execute. We encourage short and easy trips for weekend travelers. In France this might mean an amazing weekend in Nice. When we are in Spain, this might mean a weekend in Madrid. Our program staff help with trip planning before we start in Europe and while we are there.

  • Where will I stay when I travel on my own? Are there hotels or what?

    Hostels are all over the place in Europe, and students can stay in them for usually not much more than about $15-$25 a night, sometimes less and sometimes a bit more. The Village will help you learn how to book hostels and figure out the most inexpensive ways to use them well. We advise starting with Hostelbookers and reading reviews carefully and also consulting a map to know where a hostel located relative to the city center.

     

  • Will it be clear to me how I get to and from the train stations that are close to where The Village is based when we are in France? Does the program run a shuttle or taxi service?

    The VIllage does not run a taxi or shuttle service. What we do is schedule our vans and cars to do drop offs at our nearby train stations and pick ups there. We will always post our transportation plan well in advance, so that you can easily plan to grab a ride to and from your weekend or VisionQUEST trips.

  • What about flying around Europe? Do people do that a lot or do they mostly use trains?

    Students used to all buy Eurail passes and travel exclusively that way. But Europe is now linked all over with low-cost air service, so now most students travel both by trains and by planes when they go for the weekend or on their Vision Quests.  And more and more students are taking super cheap busses that travel all night, all over Europe. We encourage students to check out flights on Skyscanner to get a good overview of what their Euros/pounds can get them. We also encourage students to look at Ryan Air, because this Dublin based carrier is super cheap and practical to use in flying out of London after Journey.

  • Do many students on The Village buy a Eurail Pass for VisionQUEST? And what about travel by bus over there?

    The Eurail pass can be a great tool, but it’s probably right for some students and not for most. Why? Because you need to buy it in the USA before the program, which means you have to be planning your trips early. More than that, the passes are configured so you select the countries in advance in which you will be taking trains, so again this means a good bit of advance thought. Then you purchase a pass that gives a certain number of total travel days within a specific period of time on your calendar. Again, while this can be awesome if you’re a huge planner and do well making your decision in advance, it can also be limiting. What if you get to The Village and find three new best friends who all want to travel in Scotland for VQ? If you’ve bought a pass for travel in Spain, Italy and Austria, you’re not going to Scotland. In general, we advise students to buy the train tickets they need via the website and app Traineline EU as tickets are needed. And then we also advise using Flixbus to see if their best way to get around might in fact be a bus.

  • I’ve heard that students can take train that run at night and have beds on them. What’s the deal?

    Yes! Couchette or sleeping car/night trains are getting harder to find in Europe but are still out there. They’re very popular with students and anybody else who wants to save travel time by doing night trains and also save cash by not needing to pay for a hostel. Especially on longer train runs (Paris to Munich for example, or Paris to Venice), this can be a terrific way to shorten a long trip. The cheapest way to travel can sometimes be a surprise to students. Often a flight is cheaper than a train, and a bus is almost always the cheapest way to get around.  We encourage everyone to grab some key apps to help planning, and we help you to get these well before you head to Europe.

  • My parents are more worried about my travel weekends and VisionQUEST than anything else about The Village. Should they be?

    Parents are parents, and one of our jobs when we are parents is to worry. (Some of us work overtime in this occupation, by the way.) Travel in Europe is one of the safest ways to explore the world and grow as a person that anybody can try anywhere. The program staff for The Village have been in Europe with thousands of students over more than two decades of professional experience. And in all of those years, we’ve seen every version of a travel stumble that anybody could imagine. But after all of those missed trains, grounded flights, crowded or dirty hostels or failed WiFi and lost passports, what we’ve seen more than anything is that our students learn to be tougher adults and more resilient people because they learn to figure out how to travel well and in keeping with their own values.

  • So if I go on The Village without one of my friends from home, am I going to have to do VisionQUEST and weekend trips alone?

    No. We discourage travel alone and build our program in such a way that our students meet each other and forge social bonds faster and in more meaningful ways than most of them have ever experienced before. And then they plan and do their trips in small groups of 3-5 people, who all want to go to the same places and who share some similar values about what they want to see and do and how they want to behave as travelers. What we do encourage all of our students to do is to block out some “sojourn” time when we’re in Paris and in our JOURNEY cities, so that everybody has the chance to experience the magical feeling of walking through and enjoying a great city on her/his own terms and time clock. A morning alone or an afternoon alone–to shop and get a coffee or go back to a museum you saw and loved–those are incredible things to try independently and we ask all of our students to have this experience a few times. But for weekend or VQ travel, our staff and faculty encourage the formation of like-minded travel groups who can go together and enjoy together the experience of waking up in new cities and making memories together amidst the magic of Europe.

  • What is a visa and do I need one to study on The Village?

    A visa is a government document that allows you to live, study and sometimes work over seas for an extended period of time. Because The Village is a program that does not exceed 90 days in the Schengen Zone of Europe, you do not need a visa. (Our week in London does not count against the 90 days allowed.) You should not plan to extend your stay beyond the end of the program or start your European journey before our program launch, because if you do you will stay longer in the Schengen Zone than is diplomatically permitted. People who stay longer than 90 days do need a visa in order to be legal in their stay.

  • Do my Village classes all transfer back to my home school?

    All Village classes carry 3 credits each (except in certain cases where variable credit hour courses apply) and transfer out of UWF to any university or college in the USA. If you don’t attend UWF, you should check carefully with your major adviser to be sure that The Village courses you want to take will count in your degree plan as fully as you need them to.

  • Are Village classes harder than normal classes back home?

    Our classes are intense and require a great deal of academic work from students every day. Yet the ratio of students to professors—about 8-1—allows for a high degree of academic interplay among learners and with their faculty. Most Village students report both that they worked harder in France on the program than ever before in their lives and also that they got the best grades of their lives.

  • Where are our classes held?

    Village classes meet wherever our material takes us.  Sometimes that means a traditional feeling classroom. But more often we will teach around a simple table or in a garden. Or in the streets or at a museum.