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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

ISEP at Université de la Réunion


You might think of France as only falling on a European map; however, ISEP’s institutions in France’s overseas departments provide a unique academic and cultural experience that isn’t found in traditional Metropolitan France. Venture to the heart of the Indian Ocean where the Université de la Réunion has unique offerings in African/Créole culture, tropical environment studies, and anthropology in a multiracial society.

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust. 

Learn more about the University of the French La Reunion here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



St. Denis, Réunion

Languages of Instruction

French - minimum 4-5 semesters university-level French or equivalent

Program Dates

Fall 2018: August to December

Spring 2019: January to Late June/Early July

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Students must have completed 4-5 semesters of French
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  
  • Language Requirement: A minimum of 4-5 semesters of university-level French or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program.
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in application, even if native speaker


ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Good.


The university is located within walking distance of the commercial center and about three miles from the old town center in St. Denis.


The island of La Réunion in the middle of the Indian Ocean offers more than just clear blue waters and pristine beaches. Students can also explore both active and inactive volcanoes, cirques, and picturesque waterfalls. This site is perfect for a student looking for a non-traditional location with a French/Creole twist. Students take courses at the university taught in French paired with French language and culture courses.

Unique offerings include Creole studies, ethnology, and anthropology in a multiracial society, tropical environment studies, literature and anthropology of the Indian Ocean, African postcolonial literature and culture, postcolonial and Francophone literature. 

Students typically enroll in 5 classes per term which average to 15 hours in class per week. A term runs for 14 weeks. Students must take the equivalent of 30 ECTS per semester to earn the equivalent of 4 Lake Forest credits.


Academic Environment and Teaching Style

French universities operate in ways that are quite different from the system with which you are familiar. Understanding the differences will help you plan your program of study in France, use your time effectively while you are there and return with transferable credits. French students follow a highly structured curriculum specific to the degree they are pursuing from day one at the university. They do not take “liberal arts” or general education requirements for 2 years before focusing on a major or area of study as most U.S. students do. At the end of each year, they must pass a set of required exams before they can move on to the next year’s program.

Your Responsibility as a Student
In general, French students have to assume more responsibility for their own lives on campus than American students. They do not have as many campus support systems as American students, and they too may experience frustration when they first begin their studies! The amount of information you receive before you leave and during the first days or weeks of your stay abroad may seem overwhelming. However, if you review the material sent to you by ISEP and your host institution carefully, you will be ready to meet the challenges of adjusting to a different system and find your coordinator and professors more willing to help you than if you had not prepared yourself.

French professors are not as accessible as their American counterparts. Increasingly, however, professors do have office hours or may be available if you make an appointment. They will also be willing to answer questions and discuss problems before or immediately after class. It would be a good idea to introduce yourself to the professor at the beginning of the year, explaining that you are an international student. Do ask other students in class for advice or assistance if you do not understand something.

Student performance is assessed in two ways:

  • Short quizzes given throughout the semester allow instructors to check what their students have learned in each unit.
  • Examinations covering all of the material presented during the semester are given at the end of each semester, generally just before the February break and again in June, before the summer break.

Some U.S. universities will only award credit if you have an exam grade. Exams may be oral or written. The professor will grade you as he or she does a French student. Although the grading system in France goes from 0 to 20, the grades from 0 to 14 are generally used; 15 and 16 are relatively rare; 17 and 18, very rare; and no one is sure that 19 and 20 really exist. A 10 is about a U.S. “C”; in some courses, an 8 or 9 may be a “C” for a non-native speaker; 12 is good. Above that - bravo!

The atmosphere at a French university may seem low-pressure, but be on your guard. Even if a class does not require regular assignments, you must keep up with the reading and attend classes. Final examinations are given at the end of each course. ISEP students should check with professors to determine when the exam will be given as most professors do not provide a syllabus at the beginning of a course. As a foreign student, you may not be required to take the final exam. You may be able to substitute written assignments for the exam. Check with the professor to find out whether you are expected to take the exam in order to get a grade (in many instances, the exam might be the only evidence that you have taken the class) or whether you can substitute other assignments. Taking a final does not automatically entitle you to a grade since you must pass your exams to receive a grade. Also, make sure to register for the exam in addition to taking it.

If you make any special arrangements with a professor, obtain the agreement in writing signed by both you and the professor. Provide a copy of the agreement to both your home and host ISEP coordinators and keep a copy for yourself. Without an agreement in writing, it is expected that you will take all final exams. Credit transfer is not guaranteed if you fail to take exams or provide written proof of other arrangements.

At the end of the exchange, the faculté will award you a final average. The grades you receive from the faculté are not contestable. The only way to modify a bad grade is to do supplementary work, the grade for which will be averaged with the bad one.

Please review country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.



English Department Course Descriptions

For more information on courses and language options, see the:

ISEP French Language Advising Guide for US Students



Course Descriptions Modern Letters/French Literature
Course Descriptions History
Course Descriptions Creole
Course Descriptions Education Sciences
Course Descriptions Geography
Course Descriptions English Department
Course Descriptions Economic and Social Administration
Course Descriptions Economics

(*For Economics and Economic and Social Administration, choose the level Licence 1, 2 or 3; click on descriptions des course; click on the course for the description)

For additional course options, please click the link “course information”.

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Experiential Opportunities

Students also may have the opportunity to obtain a paid tutoring position. More information is available to students who are accepted by the Université de la Réunion at the time of receiving their acceptance materials.

Student Life

Founded in 1970, La Réunion achieved university status in 1982. New facilities, including an international residence hall, cafeteria and library have recently been built. There are exceptional outdoor sports facilities.



Students studying at the Université de la Réunion will participate in an orientation upon arrival. Orientation includes a visit to the campus, library, and sports facilities. Students will receive a description of the courses available and will visit the city of Saint-Denis.


Airport pick-up is available if the coordinator is notified sufficiently in advance.


Centre Régional des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires (C.R.O.U.S.)
At every French university, there is a C.R.O.U.S. office. Each C.R.O.U.S. is directly or indirectly responsible for the housing, cultural, and sports facilities generally located on campus; it also supplies information on all cultural and sports activities in the area by means of circulars, monthly bulletins, and posters in the university restaurants and dormitories.

To obtain a C.R.O.U.S. card, be sure to have three or four photos available. A C.R.O.U.S. card gives access to all C.R.O.U.S. services. C.R.O.U.S. also manages the university restaurants.

Students can take part in artistic, cultural or sporting recreational activities organized all year long by (among others) the Sports Department (SUAPS) and the Art & Culture Department (SUAC).

Housing and Meals

Students are housed in student residence halls and given a meal stipend to cover the equivalent of 19 meals/week.

Dormitories are a good place to meet other students and practice speaking French. Most dormitories offer single rooms, often with a sink in the room. Either maids may clean the room a few times a month, or students may be expected to do their own housekeeping. Communal bathrooms with showers are available on each floor of the dormitory and are usually co-ed.

Dormitories may offer cooking facilities, which can range from an electric hot plate to a full kitchen with an oven and refrigerator. Many dormitories in France now require a code for entry in the evening. Others are not locked and have a receptionist at the entry. Students should keep their own rooms locked at all times and contact their host coordinator if any safety issue arises.

University restaurants (restau-u’s) are administered by C.R.O.U.S. As a student with a C.R.O.U.S. Card, you are entitled to a subsidized rate of about 2.90 Euro. A typical meal consists of an hors-d’oeuvre, a plate of meat or fish with vegetables, a salad, and cheese or a sweet. Drinks are served at a moderate price. Students should note that some restau-u’s close on weekends so they should expect to cook in their residences or find a restau-u that is open, which may be farther away. Should you want to venture away from the cafeteria food, there are restaurants everywhere offering a wide variety of fare at a wide range of prices.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 semester:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


College Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application



College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Exchange students who apply by stated deadlines may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses






Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of January 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Experiences of Former Students


“The amazing thing about la Réunion was the opportunity to experience volcanos (active and inactive), climb to the highest peak in the Indian Ocean, go to museums, the beach, snorkel, scuba dive and descend into cirques and waterfalls. Even for those who don’t enjoy nature, it’s a spectacular place - a world in itself.” - Jessica Kim