Area Studies and Culture

Summer ~ Semester ~ Academic Year

Based in the heart of Paris, the Area Studies and Culture program introduces students to the language, history, politics, and culture of France, placing this fascinating country in a broad regional context in Western Europe. Coursework, language training, excursions, research projects, and the experience of living in a homestay help students to understand the local culture and to confront the issues facing this nation.

No prior knowledge of French is required. However, intensive language training is provided, thereby helping students to develop the skills and confidence to live, study, and conduct research in a foreign country. In addition to the language training students will also be encouraged to partake in several scheduled activities in French. Social encounters with French nationals, as well as organized field trips, all contribute to a greater understanding of France.


"I have learned the importance of putting yourself out there: personally, spiritually and academically, while not being afraid to make mistakes along the way. I have learned to be more honest with myself, about my strengths and limitations and the importance of looking at them objectively."


Program Options

Students on the Lexia Paris Area Studies and Culture program can choose whether to study abroad for a five-week summer term, a semester, or the academic year. When deciding how long to study abroad, students should consult their academic advisor, financial aid counselor, study abroad office and their family. Lexia staff can assist students with this decision. A list of courses and course descriptions can be found below:


Summer Program

Students on the Lexia Paris Area Studies and Culture summer program take two courses for a total of 8 semester credits or 12 quarter credits. 

  • French Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • French Language Course


Semester Program

Students on the Lexia Paris Area Studies and Culture semester program take four courses for a total of 16 semester credits or 24 quarter credits. 

  • French Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • French Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project 


Academic Year

Students on the Lexia Paris Area Studies and Culture academic year program take eight courses during two semesters for a total of 32 semester credits or 48 quarter credits. 

Students on academic year programs complete the regular semester program described above during the first semester. In the second semester, students continue language training and their Field Research Project and choose two Elective Courses to complete their academic program. Key to a second semester in Paris is designing a program of study that immerses the student in the local culture via language study, internship or volunteer experiences, course work, and independent study and projects. Students are also encouraged to consider spending the spring semester at a different Lexia site, conducting a comparative or complementary Field Research Project. 

Semester 1

  • French Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • French Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project

Semester 2

  • Field Research Project
  • French Language Course
  • Elective Course 1
  • Elective Course 2



French Area Studies and Culture Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The French Area Studies and Culture Seminar is designed to introduce students to a variety of topics in French history, art, architecture, politics, society, and economics.  Class format ranges from lectures and discussions to the close reading of documents and art works, and incorporates several excursions within the city of Paris. Grades are determined on the basis of class discussion, participation in the excursions, and written work, including a midterm and a final examination consisting of extended essay questions. Classroom time totals approximately 60 hours, including instruction during excursions.


French Language Course (Four semester/six quarter credits)

French language courses are taught at the elementary, intermediate, or advanced levels at the Cours de Langue et de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne with other international students.


Research Methods Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

This seminar teaches a range of methods for engaging in sustained, original inquiry in the field and sets the framework for developing rigorous, individual projects. By exposing the students to the diverse environments of Paris and France, this course encourages students to examine and revise their ideas of French culture. By extension, students begin to question their own sense of self and to explore the culturally embedded nature of identities in general.

The course introduces a variety of research skills, methodologies and techniques including reading, listening, observing, choosing, questioning, summarizing, organizing, writing, presenting, and reflecting. A variety of techniques for collecting and analyzing data will also be examined.

Paris offers students a myriad of visual and cultural encounters, from architecture to the collections of images housed in museums, to the fascinating, often fleeting exchanges on every street corner and subway ride. Through a series of visual and writing exercises, students explore language ability, visual skills, ethical issues, theorizing about experience, and how to synthesize field knowledge into original work and/or formal academic writing.


Field Research Project (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The Field Research Project offers students the opportunity to pursue an independent, self-designed project in a specialized field of interest. A faculty member, professional, artist, architect, or other mentor serves as advisor for the project, meeting periodically with the student to provide necessary supervision and support. For academic year students, one topic may be explored in-depth throughout the academic year or different topics may be chosen each semester. Students are encouraged to use their language skills and knowledge of the local culture and subject matter to investigate their selected topic(s).

The range of potential projects is wide – from public culture and fine arts to urban life and business. The final product can take a variety of forms, but must express a rigorous, sustained inquiry into the chosen topic and demonstrate the student’s ability to engage with the resources available in Paris. Projects might range from a 20-25 page paper or summary of laboratory work to a collection of short stories or personal essays, dance performance, photo essay, or other project.

Students spend a minimum of 60 hours per semester conducting research for their project, meeting for a minimum of eight hours with their advisor and/or the Resident Director. A week at the end of each semester is planned for the synthesis of the students’ findings, writing, or other work, followed by the presentation and discussion of the projects in the group.

Grades for the Field Research Project are based on the required paper or project, meetings with the advisor and the final presentation. The faculty advisor and the Resident Director make final grade assessments. The final project must be submitted before departure from Paris. Late projects are not accepted.

Past projects have included:

  • Parisian Tourism: Benefit or Menace?
  • War Monuments in French Village Life
  • Cultural Policies of the French Government
  • The History of AIDS in France


Dates & Deadlines

Coming soon!


Homestays: Students live in homestays throughout Paris, which allows them to have a rich intercultural and linguistic experience. Students should be aware that the "traditional" family (two parents, children) is becoming a rarity in urban Paris; they may be placed with an older couple or single person, cousins, or in other family configurations. In single or double rooms, students share safe accommodations in apartments equipped with the essentials. Most housing providers are long-term Paris residents and offer insights and the chance to practice French and intercultural skills.



The program fee covers all Lexia excursions, which are designed to help students discover areas and aspects of culture that are typically less easily accessible to tourists and give a broad representation of the breadth of French culture and its people. Excursions outside of Paris may include some of the following:

Strasbourg: Largest city in Alsace; Palais de l’Europe; Old Town

Burgundy: Visits to Dijon (The capital of Burgundy) and Beaune

Normandy: Normandy Beaches, site of D-day landings; Bayeux

Versailles: Palace built by Louis XIV outside of Paris

Mont St. Michel: 8th century abbey built on an island on the frontier between Brittany and Normandy

Loire Valley: Chateau de Villandry; Chateau de Chenonceau; Chateau de Chambord; Chateau de Blois

Integrated into some of the courses, excursions in and around Paris are an essential part of the Lexia program. These field trips can include:

  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Musée de Louvre
  • Notre-Dame de Paris
  • St. Julien-le-Pauvre
  • Sacré Coeur
  • Musée Cluny
  • Panthéon
  • L'Hôtel des Invalides
  • La Sainte Chapelle

The Lexia staff assists students in adjusting to and interacting with the local culture. Students are encouraged to attend extracurricular events. Students with particular extracurricular interests should alert the Resident Director once abroad, so that s/he may help the student become involved. The program staff may also inform students of cultural events and independent travel opportunities available to them.



Semester: $16,950
Tuition: $13,525
Housing: $3,425

Academic Year: $31,550
Tuition: $24,700
Housing: $6,850

Summer: $6,495
Tuition: $4,745
Housing: $1,750


Program Fees Include:

  • On-Site Orientation (2-4 days)
  • All Tuition and Fees
  • All Scheduled Program Excursions
  • Housing Costs
  • Services of Lexia Resident Director and Program Staff
  • Comprehensive Medical Insurance Policy
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
  • Official Transcript from Elizabethtown College



Not included in the Program Fee are the following estimated expenses based past students' experiences during the semester-long program:

  • Airfare Ranges from $800–$1,100
  • Meals not Covered $2,080
  • Books & Supplies $230
  • Personal Expenses $1,400

Estimated Total Additional Expenses: $4,660 – $4,960

Students should also remember to budget for independent travel during the one-week break within the semester.  If desired, students may choose to remain in their Lexia accommodation in Paris during the break at no additional cost.


Instructors & Institutions

The Lexia program offers students opportunities to explore this dynamic city and historical region, while confronting the daily challenge of a changing society.  One of the recognized strengths of the Lexia programs is the strongly supportive faculty and staff. The Lexia Resident Director provides students with the necessary information to live and study in France. The faculty of the Lexia program consists primarily of French professors, with occasional lectures by specialists from government and industry. These faculty members also serve as Field Research Project advisors and offer a link to local students.

The "Cours de Langue et de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne" was created by the Sorbonne in 1917 for the purpose of teaching French language and culture to foreign students. The professors offer traditional teaching, including "practical classes" where all aspects of the French language are taught through phonetics training and laboratory work, along with lectures on French civilization. Classes are small and are offered at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels. Students take both an oral and written test to place them into the appropriate language level.  Formal classroom instruction takes place for ten to fifteen hours a week.

Academic Year students with sufficient French proficiency have the option of enrolling in the Conferences at the Sorbonne (in French: art history, literature, film, and history) if their schedules do not conflict with regularly scheduled Lexia courses. The student body at the Sorbonne is very international and the students find themselves surrounded by people from around the world.



The typical course load is four courses per semester. Students who successfully complete Lexia’s program requirements are able to earn the equivalent of one full semester or academic year of college/university level credit, pending approval from their home institution.

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the credit transfer policies at his/her home institution and department, including advising appointments, paperwork and pre-departure or re-entry activities. We strongly suggest that students contact their study abroad or other appropriate office early in the planning stage to ensure that they complete all requirements. 

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