Eliza - University of Queensland Intensive French in New Caledonia

B Arts / B Communications
Winter 2023
I have gained independence and the ability to see myself succeeding in a life overseas separated from my family, I have the skills to manage this and maintain my links with my family.


French language learning immersion in French country

Personal Development

I gained many things from this experience because it involved many firsts for me. It was my first time travelling internationally without my family, it was my first time in a Francophone country, my first time in a host family and it was my first time studying overseas in a different language. As a result I have developed a lot of self-confidence to thrive in the experience, both in my language skills but also in my ability to organise events and communicate with my host these plans so she would be available to drive me. I also did not have access to internet outside my host house or Univeristy so I adapted my organisation around this as well and helped me further develop my resourceful organisation. I created strong friendships with my fellow UQ classmates on the trip and learned to balance the difficulties of being in their company everyday for three weeks. In this time, I also tested living out of home, something I have yet to do and believe I have gained independence and the ability to see myself succeeding in a life overseas separated from my family, I have the skills to manage this and maintain my links with my family.

Academic Development

The academic system was much more speaking-focused than UQ. At UQ the French courses are very orientated to sit and take notes in class as the teacher speaks, the classes are large so you easily get overlooked and can avoid speaking the entire lesson if you have little confidence, similarly, there is a lot of pressure to answer questions in front of so many students and this or rare group activity is usually the only way to practice speaking. In comparison, I spent most of the class in New Caledonia speaking with the other students, the class was only 12 students and the small and casual group and conversational teaching style was conducive to improving speaking confidence. We would dedicate an hour each morning to speaking on a political comic strip or image which was helpful for developing vocabulary from colours to politically implied messages. My French listening ability is greatly strengthened from living with and around french-speakers and this is the most improved of my abilities. The workload was very different to UQ where there is a lot of independent preparation to do at home, most of our work was done in class, this was because we spend 3 hours each weekday in class compared to my 3 hours per week at UQ. Assessment on the experience was entirely in class with no necessary preparation outside of class, we did exams in class time and there was no specific type of assessment we had to learn to specifically respond to like at UQ we just went in with the 3 weeks of intense french immersion and were able to perform well to a random listening stimulus. We were also marked on our speaking as it progressed during class discussion instead of an intense and stressful oral which must follow a specific structure and contain specific topics that you spend weeks preparing for as at UQ. The experience was intense and I spent a lot of time at university but this made it a very organic environment where I was comfortable and due to that, I was able to progress my skills greatly.

Professional Development

This trip demonstrated to me that I am able to hold conversations with French-speaking people; can understand and be understood at a B2 level which will contribute to me employability in public relations within Australia as a liaison for French relations or in a Francophone country as a liaison for an Australian company which is my current job opportunity. For my professional development, I definitely was required to make fast friends and maintain good relationships for three weeks despite stress, fatigue and culture shock. This length of time was a challenge as students began to release their stress and exhaustion into our friendships and I had to handle this and also be conscious that I did not do it myself. I believe that I am quite introverted and can be quite blunt as a person which makes it hard for me to make instant strong connections with people and makes it easy for me to offend them unintentionally, I was successful in making and keeping my friendships past the experience which was a development I can take into intensive situations and also new situations such as a new job so it will be a great help for my future employability. Further, there was some disorganization within the experience from CIS Australia and CREIPAC where we as students had to step in and ask for our needs to be met. For example, there was an occasion where no transport or lunch had been provided by CREIPAC during our small lunch break before another activity and CIS Australia had given us an outdated schedule that indicated the opposite. We had to problem-solve and talk to administration and CIS Australia and firmly told them they had a duty to make sure we were provided with lunch if there was an afternoon activity as in our contract and that for us to be able to have time to eat they had to provide alternative transport to a public bus. We were able to resolve this situation by communicating and problem-solving though we still had to compromise and pay for our own lunch. I think this shows the strength of character to get a job done and compromise without over sacrificing in my own life and this is a great skill.


Total cost 2,079.57 $700 on flights$999 on experience cost ($4000 covered by Grant)$29 on an international student identity card$351.57 was my total spending while on the trip (I exchanged $305 AUD to CFP cash before leaving and $46.57 was the total of my debit card transactions usually in $5-$10 chunks for snacks or gifts)~$62 on transport - a bus card and bus fares for 3 weeks on catching the bus home from university Food - I would sometimes buy a morning coffee for 70c at university and we went out for lunch approximately five times which was around $16-30 as we experienced both quick cabinet pastries and a sit-down lunch $83.54 for a weekend taxi boat to and from a tourist Island for the day~$159 was spent miscellaneously in cash on gifts (books, earrings, chocolate etc.)Accommodation, Transport (not including the bus mentioned above) and food mainly was provided at my homestay saving a lot of costs


I received $4000 in funding and it was used to pay for the $5000 experience


This experience is tailored by UQ to be a for-credit course, the only option, as a result, is a homestay. The homestay was good in that regard, it was also good for language immersion as French was the only language I could communicate with my host in, she did not know English. My host was an older lady who lived alone, she had never done a three-week homestay before and it strained our relationship to live together for that time period with a language barrier, there was also a large age gap so it was hard to connect with my host and I spent a lot of time in my homestay alone in my bedroom, though the initial week had quite a bit of interaction and conversation this didn't last. My host was very happy to drive me to places where I would hang out with others also on the experience which I really appreciated as transport was limited, she also packed me lunch on the weekend, had diverse meal options and provided medication when I felt sick. My advice to future students is to think about your comforts at home and make sure to either bring them with you or request them in your application. For example, my house is smoke-free in Australia, however, my Host smoked all the time and the house and she smelled strongly of smoke, this was an unpleasant living situation for me and next time I would request a non-smoking Host. Another example, you may be more picky than you think, I wish I had brought my own pillow as the pillow at my homestay was so hard I ended up stuffing clothes in the pillowcase instead. A homestay is always preferable for the language immersion but connecting with your host is essential to making the most out of it, sometimes you and your host aren't a good fit, you can request a change but also think proactively with your application and consider requesting a family or a single host if a specific situation would suit you as each of us on the experience had a different family dynamic to interact with.


The highlights were definitely the other students on the trip with me. I spent 45 hours of class with them so I am definitely glad we connected straight up but we also were such a good group we spent nearly all of our free time doing activities in a group and that made the experience all the richer to have shared it with people I got so close with, who were going on a similar journey to me in so many ways. We used our spare time well and planned touristy and generally fun activities instead of sticking only to the schedule which made the experience so much more, we went to festivals, got a boat out to small islands and generally took control of the trip. The general culture of the country and learning about it was also fantastic, the default language as French not English was incomparable for language learning but also being taught completely new information in that language (the history of New Caledonia) was enriching.

Advice/Top Tips

You are going to be very tired all the time, but you have to recognise that it's because the experience is exhausting and it's tough but you can't let it stop you, keep planning activities, keep filling your days and try to take control independently of the schedule as much as possible, the most fun I had was going on an activity I had planned with the other students ourselves in our free time. Also, there are so many other benefits to taking control of your schedule, you put yourself out there to speak that other language independently of university requirements, you show yourself you are capable and independent and you usually have more fun. I would also say put all your effort into studying while in class, it helps so much when you come back to have those lessons strengthen your skills when you go back to UQ French classes, I remember so much more effectively the grammar point I learnt in New Caledonia even if only one lesson was grammar in the whole week because the lessons over there are unique and tailored. On that note, you should study in class, and do any homework assigned, but don't let the language work and university work dominate your trip, organic experiences out in a francophone country are as valuable to your skills.