The bells of Notre Dame de Versailles have begun to chime as you step out from your apartment building onto the cobblestone street. You make your way through the bustling Place Carnot and stop at the corner boulangerie to grab a pain aux raisins on your way to class. It's 8:43. You quicken your step as you approach the wide boulevards radiating out from the Place d'Armes until you reach the Petites Ecuries du Roy. Here, in the grand stable complex of the Sun King, you pass through the courtyard, pausing a moment to observe the busloads of tourists arriving at the chateau, then head upstairs to class.
Since 1967, architecture students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have had a unique opportunity to participate in a special European study/travel program. Since 1970, the program has been hosted by the Ecole d'Architecture de Versailles, one of eight architecture schools in the Paris region. Each year, approximately forty-eight students spend their junior year living, studying, learning and delighting in the historically and architecturally significant city of Versailles, thanks to the School of Architecture's ongoing relationship with the Ecole d'Architecture. The program uses both historic and modern European architecture to help students sharpen their awareness of buildings and cities. Program participants not only gain a deeper understanding of Europe's rich architectural heritage, but they also learn to appreciate other cultures and to open their minds to a world of possibilities.
Eligibility and Preparation
The study abroad program is planned for students who will be in the junior year of their undergraduate architectural studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Participants must meet the following criteria:
- be enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- have a strong academic record (high GPA, no academic probation)
- be making normal progress in the curriculum's course-sequence (62 credit hours earned before leaving for France ) including completion of Architecture supporting course work: QR1- Math 220 or 221, "Calculus I" and QR2 - Math 231 "Calculus II" or PHYS 101, "Physics."
- be without encumbrances (all university encumbrances must be cleared before departure)
- make all scheduled program payments
- complete preparatory French language course during spring semester before program begins
From the list of eligible applicants, the International Programs and Relations Committee of the School of Architecture selects the list of participants and alternates with the approval of the Associate Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts.
To apply, click on the "Application Form" link on the left side of this page. This takes you directly to the Study Abroad website application page. When you are ready to apply, click on Create App. Your student account will be charged a nonrefundable $25.00 application fee. On the Program Application Page, fill out all required forms. Print out the “Signature Verification Form” and return it to 117 Arch.
The program usually departs from Chicago the day after Labor Day (Tuesday). The yearlong program of studies is organized into four major components: orientation (September), fall semester (September-December), spring semester (January-April), and April study/travel period (April-May).
The class schedule in Versailles is compressed to accommodate the study/travel periods. Courses meet all day, most days of the week. Students often improve their time-management skills in order to complete academic work, do laundry and shopping before stores close, explore Paris and still get away for the weekend.
Discover Another Culture: The Orientation Program
During the first four weeks of the semester, a special orientation program introduces the student to European culture before they become immersed in academic work. The program consists of an introduction to the history, language and culture of France and the Paris region. Through classes, lectures and guided-trips, the orientation month helps students settle into their new environment. Students receive information on resources and opportunities in the area and have time to adjust while exploring Versailles, Paris, and France.
By being exposed to a variety of cultures, participants in the Versailles program gain a better understanding of the inherent relationship between a culture and its architecture. Students who study in Versailles deepen their knowledge of buildings and cities and this knowledge is reinforced in their work. Often, the new perspectives opened by European study increase students' interest in their homeland; many return with a new sensitivity to the architecture and culture of the United States.
Course of Study
The program of study in Versailles includes courses in architectural design, history, and structures (all academically equivalent to those offered in Urbana) and additional course activities with seminar and independent study credit. Classroom activities are supplemented by guest lectures, field trips, and directed independent study-travel. The program draws on the uniqueness of its European setting to illustrate important principles and heighten learning.
In the design studios, students develop sensitivity to context through projects sited in European settings. Studio workspace is assigned in ateliers alongside French students. Architectural history courses include visits to exemplary historic and contemporary buildings. Students take the same sequence of structures courses as they would on the Urbana campus. Additional course credit is provided for participation in the orientation program, for optional French language classes, for sketching assignments and for seminars (usually focusing on some aspect of the European experience). All courses are taught in English by faculty appointed by the University of Illinois.
Versailles is ideally located. Just outside Paris, it's linked to all of Europe by excellent and affordable transportation systems. Paris's central location means Scotland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Scandinavia and Spain are all less than a day away by train or car.
A ten-day to two-week period is scheduled in each semester to allow students to study and travel across Europe on an independent basis. Each student is required to plan his or her own study/travel period; traveling in small groups is encouraged. During these periods, students are required to keep sketchbooks as visual journals of their experiences. Sketching helps students learn to study architecture in detail and improves their ability to communicate visual concepts on paper. In addition to helping students develop professional skills, the sketchbooks often become valuable references and treasured keepsakes.
The April study/travel period is a three-and-a-half week timespan during which students participate in an organized two-week "sketch trip" led by visiting instructors followed by time for independent travel. The longer time period allows students to travel to destinations that are further away from Paris such as Russia, East Europe, Scandinavia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and/or African countries.
Program Costs for 2011-12
Note: The costs presented here are estimates and subject to change.
University tuition and fees can be different for students based on their year of entry. The current tuition and fees for students who entered the University fall semester 2010 is $11,886/$962 for Illinois residents and $26,028/$962 for non-residents. Since tuition and fees change, the most current fees can be accessed by students on the University’s web site: http://www.registrar.illinois.edu/financial/ugrad_fees.html
Participants in the Versailles program must pay an additional program fee (currently $14,500) to cover round-trip airfare Paris-Chicago, housing, orientation, program operation, some field trips, registration in the Ecole d'Architecture, obligatory French civil insurance and a French Visa and residency permit.
The above figures do not include cost of living expenses (such as food, laundry and, personal items), additional travel in Europe, transportation to and from Paris, purchases, medicine, health care or other personal expenses. Participants will be responsible for having sufficient personal funds to offset these and other costs. These are estimated for the current year at $13,320. Please see the handbook link at the left of this page for further information. This amount should be included in requests for financial aid.
It is not possible for American students to work in France as a condition of their visa.
Living and travel expenses will vary based on each student's needs and spending habits. Living expenses in Versailles are comparable to those in a major US city such as New York or Chicago ; American buying power will fluctuate with the dollar-euro exchange rate. As expected, eating at home is much less expensive than eating in restaurants. A government-subsidized cafeteria is located in the Ecole d'Architecture and serves lunch on weekdays when French classes are in session. A range of travel and lodging options (inexpensive to luxury) are available throughout Europe.
Information and application for student loans and scholarships may be obtained from www.fafsa.edu.gov or the University Office of Student Financial Aid (217-333-0100; www.osfa.illinois.edu) and the Study Abroad Office (217-333-6322; www.studyabroad.illinois.edu). It takes approximately six weeks to process a loan application. Additionally, the School of Architecture provides a limited number of scholarships and awards based on need and merit. For more details, visit www.arch.illinois.edu/resources/awards.
The School of Architecture obtains student lodgings in apartments or in homes of French families in or near Versailles. The rooms vary in size, quality and location but all provide basic accommodations for sleeping, bathing, and cooking. Participants must be aware that living customs and landlord expectations may differ significantly from what they are accustomed to and participants must be willing to make necessary adjustments. The Versailles Program staff works very hard to address all housing-related issues promptly. All unmarried students must participate in the housing plan.