Traveling the world for a couple weeks or a few days is a beautiful experience. However, studying abroad is something else. Some people may describe it as “life changing”, but I like to refer to it rather as “life discovering”. My life has not changed here. I am the exact same person at the end of this journey as I was when I started. But I have definitely discovered more about myself here.
I would recommend studying abroad to every college student. It’s an incredibly important experience that forces you to step out of your comfort zone and learn to deal with a whole new lifestyle. As you might be able to gather from my previous blogs, I love Paris. I would 100% recommend it to anyone thinking about studying abroad – not just because it’s a beautiful and fun place, but because it really makes you JUMP out of your comfort zone and discover all that you are really capable of.
If you are considering studying abroad in Paris here are a few tips:
- Don’t expect it to be a vacation. It’s definitely a break from your previous day to day life, however, your troubles don’t just vanish. The schoolwork is still challenging and adjusting to a new language and lifestyle can be tricky. But don’t let those hard times take over your whole experience.
- Make friends. This might sound silly, but if it weren’t for the friends I made here, my study abroad experience would be a million times different. I am a very independent person, but without my friend group (and especially my roommate who is now my best friend) it would have been a lot harder to pick my head up when it was down.
- TRY to speak French. French people have a stereotype of being rude all the time. The reason that is true sometimes is because they don’t like when people just assume they speak English. How would you feel if someone walked up to you and started speaking Hungarian? You would be frustrated too. In their eyes, you’re the rude one. If you make an effort, (most of the time) they will work with you to get you what you need.
- Be prepared to eat a lot of carbs. Bread is everything here. I have not once tried to limit my bread intake because I know as soon as I go back to the States, bread will never be the same. I’m enjoying it now while I can. Eat everything in Paris, diet later.
- Create a Paris bucket list. My roommate had the idea to do this, and it really is a great way to make sure you do everything you want to do so you have no regrets when you leave. We have a bucket list together and it is the best feeling to cross something off.
- Don’t travel every weekend. Students studying abroad in Europe often feel the need to culminate this extensive list of places they traveled to over a span of a few months. That might be okay for some study abroad sites, but getting away from Paris every weekend is a waste of Paris. There are countless things to do here and in order to get a real Parisian experience, you need to be in the city for more than just the school days.
- Walk everywhere. It’s just the best way to see Paris. Research the art of a flaneur and adopt that way of living into your life in Paris – I promise it’s worth it.
- Make the best of every experience. Every day isn’t going to be rainbows and butterflies. I’ve learned to deal with the littlest of annoying circumstances – like a lot of rain – and the most traumatic of events – like my apartment being robbed. I could easily have a negative view of Paris forever because of the hard times I’ve had, but I refuse to let those things ruin my time here. Because I’ve gone about life here this way, Paris is – and will always be – my favorite place in the world.
- La Tour Eiffel: Olivia Hoffman