As Cameroon’s economic and political capital, Yaoundé is the ideal place for cultural immersion into Francophone African life combined with rigorous academic study.

Students come in at the intermediate-advanced level of French and adhere to the Middlebury Language Pledge® to reap the benefits of linguistic immersion. By living and studying with Cameroonians and getting involved in the community through volunteer work, internships, and extracurricular activities, students can build authentic relationships and integrate fully into life in Yaoundé. 

Based at the Université catholique d’Afrique centrale, with all classes conducted entirely in French, students on this study abroad program will be able to take courses at the Middlebury College Center and alongside their Cameroonian peers at the university in several disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Study Abroad: Yaoundé, Cameroon

My name’s Asa Waterworth and I studied abroad in Yaounde, Cameroon. People on the streets all the time. Taxis honking all the time. People selling everything on the streets all the time. Even at three in the morning there are people out. The way that people always describe places as like different smells, different colors, lots of noises, it was very much that everywhere in the city.

So being in a loud, noisy city full of taxis, living as a member of the minority, it was all around very different. Every single day I would eat traditional Cameroonian dishes. Street food is a really, really big part of the culture, and the cuisine in Yaounde. We’d always walk down to the Muslim quarter, which is right next to the center, and they’re really known for making kind of skewers of meat.

And so we’d always be talking to people down there, talking to the women that make beignets, these little fried dough balls, on the corner. We made friends with a guy that makes omelets on the other corner. Kind of everywhere we went we were buying food, we were talking to people, and I really liked that.

Because we actually became friends, and became close. It was really interesting to know that you’re completely getting to know these people that you didn’t know before in French, which is not your language, it’s not their language. So there was a lot of times during the program where I looked around and realized we’re all talking in French, and we’re all telling these stories, and learning so much about each other, and it’s not in English.

Every day in a taxi would be an opportunity to just have a conversation about anything with anybody. And our host families, talking about things, and listening to the French news, just always an opportunity to be learning and improving your French. I absolutely think that four months in Yaounde improved my language skills.

Yaoundé: Safer Than You Might Think

Before opening our program in Cameroon, we conscientiously weighed the risks inherent in the region and we continue to do so with each new development. We have found that Yaoundé is different from the way the media portrays Cameroon as a whole.

Islamic extremists are present in the far north region of the country, but when you couple the distance with the realities of transportation to that area, Yaoundé is really much farther away from the violence than the map shows it to be.

Our program is very small, which means our director is in close contact with the students and their host families. All of our students are housed with local families in an upper middle class sector of the city. They spend the first few days of orientation learning about keeping themselves safe, which has much more to do with big city street smarts than with any problems specific to Cameroon.

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