- Listing Type: Gap Year Programs
- Destinations: France
- Program Delivery: Residential
- Program Length: Two Months, Semester
- Start Month: January, September
- Category: Performing & Visual Arts
- Selective: No
- Gender: Coed
- Ages: 18, 19+, 19
- Housing: Other
- Accreditation: Gap Year Association - Program
- Affiliation: Gap Year Association
- Financial Aid: Grants/Scholarships, Payment Terms
- Minimum Cost: $10,000 - $20,000
Welcome to Berridge!
Berridge Creative Semester is a unique opportunity to live in a creative community led by professional artists. Based in an 18th-century chateau in Normandy, France, Creative Semester offers a blend of guided excursions, cultural experiences, artistic workshops and hands-on classes in all disciplines including Filmmaking, Writing, Studio Art, Photography, Theatre, Music and Design for Stage and Screen.
Berridge Creative Semester is for any student interested in exploring the arts, experiencing French culture and living in community. The program welcomes students of all levels of interest and experience from complete beginner to those already in pursuit of a specific creative career. You might be looking to apply to an arts college or film program, pick up a completely new skill, deepen your artistic abilities or just enjoy some right-brained travel before pursuing other passions. Wherever you are at on your artistic journey, we work with you to craft your gap time into an enriching and meaningful time abroad.
The Arts at Creative Semester
Each participant chooses an Artistic Concentration from Film, Theatre, Studio Art, Music or Design for Stage/Screen. You'll have a range of classes in your chosen concentration, learning new skills and building a portfolio of work as you go. The program also offers a wide variety of workshops in everything from Acting for the Camera to Zine Making. Workshops are open to all participants regardless of their chosen concentration so you can develop your current skills or learn something completely new. You'll have time and space to move projects from concept to completion, collaborate with peers and receive feedback from your faculty mentor.
Faculty at Creative Semester
Our faculty bring with them decades of experience as industry professionals. The faculty at Creative Semester are all working, professional artists who take time out from thriving creative careers to teach and mentor on the program. Learn from them first hand as you build skills, work on personal creative projects and collaborate with your peers. You'll be assigned a personal mentor to guide you in your artistic practice and help you reflect on your experience and there are opportunities for internships, college advice and creative career counselling.
Residential Life at Creative Semester
Creative Semester is hosted between two beautiful, historical residences: Chateau le Mont Epinguet, and La Palmeraie in Normandy, France. Both represent a unique opportunity to live in community in a beautiful, historical residence in one of the most stunning regions of France. You can veiw a slide show on our residences here https://youtu.be/uwVxIgg1GL0
Excursions and Experiences
Normandy, France is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich regions in all of Europe. Settled by the Romans, conquered by the Vikings and occupied by the Germans, Normandy has over two-thousand years of history to discover. The program includes a range of excursions including the D-Day Landing Sites, medieval Bayeux and Mont St Michel, a monastery over a thousand years old on a tidal island. A range of hands-on experiences such as breadmaking, visits to local cider makers and cheese makers and trips to local French markets enhance your experience of Normandy, inform your creative process and boost your French language skills.
Program Highlights and Excursions
Some of the places you will go include:
- Mont St Michel, s 900-year-old monetary on a tidal island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Paris on our 4-day artist insiders tour which includes all the key sites and many hidden gems
- D-Day Landing sites with a WWII historian including the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach
- Bricquebec, a local village with a 14th century castle ruin and weekly, bustling French market
- Cherbourg, a port city surrounded by a Napoleonic fort and penultimate stop of the HMS Titanic
- Bayeux and the story of the Norman conquest including Caen, Bayeux Cathedral, the Bayeux tapestry
- Château des Ravalet, an 16th century chateau with a dark history surrounded by world-famous gardens
- The Nez de Jobourg, coastal cliffs rising 128 metres out of the sea and the best coastal hiking in Europe
- Coutances and Château Fort de Pirou, an 11th century castle boasting far reaching views from the parapets
- Granville, a costal town and home to the Musee Christian Dior
Some of the things you will do include:
- A three-day Narrative Storytelling workshop to develop your writing and listening skills
- Build creative skills with professional artists including Filmmaking, Music, Acting and Studio Art (Painting, Drawing, Photography, Ceramics, Design)
- Learn to live the Norman way with good food, nature and time for reflection at the center of life
- Advance or jumpstart French language skills with immersion experiences
- Have time and space to work on artistic projects for portfolio use and personal growth
- Work in student teams to run our residence, organize activities and contribute to student life
The program includes a week-long trip to Paris hitting the must-see sites and exploring some hidden gems. Our Paris trip hits the must-see sites including the Eiffel Tower, Seine River Cruise, Notre Dame, Arc du Triomphe, Pantheon and Sacre Coeur. We’ll also explore some hidden gems such as the famous English bookstore Shakespeare and Co, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Musee Rodin and Musée de l'Orangerie which houses one of the finest collections of Impressionist paintings including Monet’s waterlily murals. We'll spend an afternoon sketching or writing at Les Deux Magots, the cafe haunt of many great writers and you'll have time to explore, shop or museum hop on your own.
Discover where your creativity can take you!
Immerse yourself in French history and culture while developing your creativity, and discovering opportunities for personal growth. Creative Semester welcomes artists of all levels of experience and the program is taught entirely in English with optional French language learning. Connect with artists from around the world, cultivate new artistic perspectives and discover where your creativity can take you on your gap year!
There is too much to write about this program. To say it's magic and changed my life would be true, even if it's hard to believe. I spent six summers with Berridge as a student in Normany, France. The staff is amazing. They are wise, patient, and funny. I learned so much as an actor. What is special about the work at Berridge is that it's not one-size-fits-all. They are passionate about developing who you are as an actor, specifically. The food is amazing!! Fresh bread from the local bakery every morning and a chef cooks all the meals in the evening. They cater to every dietary preference- vegan, gluten-free, etc. And delicious! The outings and explorations were awesome--filming around the historic chateau grounds and visiting medieval towns in the area. It is also the ultimate safe space and you are surrounded by beautiful nature. I can't recommend this program enough. It lets you be who you are as a student, and as a person. 'You are enough.' I have made lifelong friends from this program who have become significant creative collaborators, and who feel like family. If you are looking through and deciding which place to spend a month of your life, or several, this is the place.- Katie Royer - April 7, 2022
If you are looking for an experience that will completely change your life and give you the tools to succeed in the film or theatre industry, Berridge is the right place for you. Back in 2016, I came back with a my first short film, countless memories, and a family across the globe. Now I am a globally awarded full-time filmmaker and owe it all to Berridge. First of all, the staff are very approachable and friendly. They feel less like teachers and more like mentors. They will share their real life experiences, then listen to students and create an adjusted experience tailored to their goals and learning style. If you stay in contact with them after the program you might even end up collaborating with them or get more networking opportunities! It is truly an incredible opportunity. The classes are not really classes. I would consider them either real life experience scenarios or workshops. It doesn't feel like a hassle to get up and go to class because it's very much a hands-on experience. In the film aspect for example, we get a crash course on filmmaking and by the end of the first week, we're already working on our films. Going out and testing equipment, talking about actual real world stuff. Things you only see in the field. We learn what they don't teach you in class. I have shot hundreds of projects after my short film shot at Berridge, some of them getting into very rigorous film festivals, but my mom still thinks that my Berridge film is her favorite. That's how good the production was. Shoutout to Brian. The Chateau is just magical. Not only does it look and feel like something straight from a fairy-tale, but it stops time. The reason I come back every year is because it literally feels like it stops time. You are in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to worry about, no deadlines, no gossip, no problems at home. You're at peace. I love walking around the house in the middle of the day and seeing people dancing or singing while I serve my cup of tea. Picture High School Musical but in a castle and not annoying. This is what I picture heaven looking like. No joke.- Ramiro Cantu - June 2, 2022