Study Abroad - Aix Housing
Living in a French home is considered the best form of housing because it provides an immediate introduction to life in this new place. It is an incomparable opportunity for those who seek knowledge that is neither superficial nor second hand. It provides an introduction into the community and is a great incentive to learning the language. IAU’s hosts come from a cross section of society; they belong to no particular professional or social milieu, but all are carefully chosen and many have hosted American students for several years.
Most of the rooms available with the hosts are approximately a 15 to 35 minute walk from classes. Accommodations a bit farther from the Center may be more spacious. Students should consult with the housing coordinator should any questions arise regarding the homestay arrangement.
Housing coordinators make periodic visits to the hosts to be sure that the cleanliness and comfort meet the Institute's standards. With very few exceptions, IAU alumni feel that living in a French home is far preferable to living independently. Some universal observations on homestays:
- French comprehension and speaking ability improve dramatically
- Awareness of current events, political outlook, and cultural customs enrich their lives immeasurably
- The food may be a delightful education in itself, and dinnertime may provide a gracious and lively event each day
Students must be flexible and accepting within their French household, and will in all likelihood find the attitude rewarded.
"Just as the friendly people at IAU had said that first orientation day, the unfamiliar things became the familiar... the strangers I lived with became family."
- Sydnee Greenberg, Spring 2012
"I have become lifelong friends with my wonderful host family and with many of my IAU friends. I'm seriously going to miss my host mom's delicious cooking!"
- Graham Hebel, Spring 2012
"My homestay experience opened my ears to the French language, my nose to the Provencal cooking, and my heart to new people, whom I soon referred to as my family for four short months."
- Mary Claire Gustafson, Spring 2012
IAU does not offer independent housing; if students choose to rent an apartment those arrangements will have to be made on your own. Be aware that apartments are hard to find in a crowded university town such as Aix-en-Provence and rent is very high. One month’s rent, plus a deposit equal to one, sometimes two, months’ rent (reimbursed if there are no outstanding bills or damage at the end of your stay) must be paid in advance to the apartment owner. Heating, electricity, gas, and telephone are additional. Those in independent housing will also not be provided with linens or cookware. For students who choose this situation, it is best that arrangements be made before arriving in France, as housing can be difficult to find after arrival.
Host Family FAQs
We answer some of the most common questions below, and you can read about additional housing guidelines here.
When will I receive my housing assignment?
Will my host family speak English?
All students are placed in French-speaking families. Based on the housing questionnaire portion of the online application, the IAU Housing Coordinator works to ensure that students with no French background are placed in homestays where the host is familiar with English. Students are encouraged to speak French with their host family as much as possible, even those who are just beginning to study it. Students enrolled in a semester program are required to take a French course during the semester which facilitates communication between students and their hosts.
Do I need to pack sheets/towels?
Linens are provided for students during their time abroad. Students should only bring linens if they have specific requirements or favorite pillows.
What if I have a food allergy?
Students indicate any allergies (food or otherwise) in the housing questionnaire portion of the online application. Hosts are notified ahead of time and work with students to ensure that appropriate food and beverage are available to them during their time abroad. Students are encouraged to research vocabulary about their allergies prior to arriving in France so that they can effectively communicate with restaurants and servers as well as their host family. Students are also encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider prior to arrival abroad to ensure that they are prepared to manage their allergy while abroad.
Will I have my own bedroom?
Many host families have single bedrooms for host students. However, students are sometimes paired with other American and international students in homes. Students often find that being in a home stay with another student facilitates conversations and allows for easier cultural exchange. Students have the opportunity to indicate preferences in the housing questionnaire of the online application, and the IAU Housing Coordinator works to accommodate student requests whenever possible.
When can I move in/when do I have to move out?
Move-in and move-out dates are indicated in the student’s acceptance letter from IAU. If a student needs to arrive earlier or depart later than those dates, it is their responsibility to arrange for alternative accommodations.
Meals in France vary widely from family to family. We encourage students to research different cuisines and be open-minded when trying new foods. A typical breakfast includes fruit, yogurt, bread, cereal, tea or coffee. Dinners often include a protein such as chicken, fish or beef with a vegetable side. However, your host family will introduce you to their typical family meals, and you will be able to indicate allergies or food choices (vegetarian, kosher etc…) in the housing questionnaire of your online application.
What is the weather like in Aix?
Aix has a typically Mediterranean climate; warmer in the summer around 80-90F and cooler in the winter around 40-50F. It is a dryer climate because of ‘Le Mistral’ wind that comes down the Rhone Valley. Students should research yearly averages and pack accordingly. Homes in Aix are heated in the winter, but air conditioning is not typical in France or Europe at large. Fans are provided for summer students.
Will I have a curfew?
Students do not have a curfew but are required to communicate their plans so that host families can plan their day. Students are expected to be quiet and respectful, particularly in the early morning and late night hours so as not to disrupt their hosts. Students are required to inform their hosts if they do not plan to eat a regularly scheduled meal with them or if they plan to be away from home for a night. This is for student safety so their hosts know where they are in case of emergency.
Can I have friends/family stay with me when they visit?
Students should not expect their host to accommodate visiting friends and family. A list of suggested hotels for guests can be found on the Travel Logistics page of our website.