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Off-Campus Programs: Semester Programs

The Study in France Program

What is it like spending a semester in France? Read Lea’s blog from fall 2013 to find out!

The program will be offered again in the fall of 2015 and the spring of 2018.

The Study in France program is open to beginner and advanced students.

Grenoble Fall 2013


Calvin students in France

After a brief orientation in Grenoble (late August early September), students enrolled in Grenoble at the Centre universitaire d’études françaises (CUEF), Université Stendhal Grenoble 3.  The CUEF is a French language school housed within the university. Students in CUEF classes are not French, but come from all over world. CUEF instructors are native French speakers.

CUEF courses

Following a placement test, students take at the CUEF between 8 hours to 10 hours of French language classes, as well as 2 hours of English-French translation.  Students also choose three 90-minute lecture courses, usually given in an amphitheater.  CUEF courses will transfer as the following Calvin courses:

STFR 315      Advanced Language Study in France I (3 s.h.)
STFR 316      Advanced Language Study in France II (3 s.h.)
STFR 381      Special Topics (3 s.h.)

The CUEF typically offers the following lecture courses according to two language levels:

B1: Niveau seuil - intermediate
  • French culture and society
  • Contemporary French economic and political life
  • History of science
  • French art history
  • History of French cinema
  • French and Francophone literature
  • History of contemporary France
  • The regions of France
B2: Niveau indépendant - advanced intermediate
  • French art history
  • History of French cinema
  • France and Europe
  • History of ideas
  • History of contemporary France
  • 20th-century French literature
  • Francophone literature

Please note:

  • If students are very advanced (native or near-native fluency), they may be placed in a third level, C1-C2 niveau autonome-maîtrise, and take courses at the CUEF with other international students and also courses at the university with French students.  To date, no Calvin student has been placed at that level, but it remains an attractive possibility, which would require, however, consultation on course transfers with the program director, the Director of Off-campus Programs, and the Registrar.


Complementing education with immersion

In addition to classes, students on the Grenoble semester receive a practical orientation to the city (transit system, bank, post office, etc.). Orientation classroom sessions are dedicated to discussing “cultural misunderstandings” and preparing for the CUEF placement test.


One of the excursions will be to Paris. In Paris, students visit numerous sites of cultural, historical and political significance such as monuments, museums, and cathedrals.  Required reading and lectures on the cultural and historical context prepare students for the visits.  In Paris, students see sites such as Notre Dame de Paris, Sacré-Cœur, the Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre, and the Sainte-Chapelle. The course includes other excursions, including weekend excursions.


In addition to discussions held during the orientation period, the group meets on the average one hour per week, either in class or during a weekend excursion, for discussions on French culture with the instructor.


Evaluation is based on regular participation, a test of various aspects of French culture, and a 5-6 page reflective paper on an aspect of French culture.

Credit and Grades

Students obtain a combined 15 semester hours credit through CUEF and Calvin courses. Overall class-room “seat-time” (potentially between 18.5 and 20.5 hours) will be greater than a regular semester at Calvin.  Homework assignments for CUEF courses, however, are generally less demanding. 

In France, teachers generally grade more severely than in the United States.  The French grading system is on a scale of 0 to 20, with 20 being perfect (very rare) and 0 being terrible.  In the French system, 10/20 and higher is considered passing.  Your French grades will be converted to the American letter system for your transcript according to the scale below. 

15-20/20 = A
14/20 = A-
13/20 = B+
12/20 = B
11/20 = B-
10/20 = C+
9/20 = C
8/20 = C-
0-7/20 = D+
0-6/20 = F

As with grading, French instructors are usually much more critical in class than North American instructors. It is not uncommon for mistakes to be pointed out openly—and bluntly. In such cases, students should not take the comments personally. Attendance is taken seriously and absences will be recorded.

Courses taken at the CUEF will not affect a student’s GPA but will be recorded on a transcript according to the scale given above. Courses given by the program director will count towards a student’s GPA.   

Application process: Study in France

Preliminary applications will be be available from the Off-Campus Programs office (Hiemenga Hall 322) or online. Following approval at the preliminary level, the Off-Campus Programs Office will send students an application to the Study in France program. Students who plan on applying should complete FRE 301 and 302.