If you’re considering studying abroad in Paris, I have only two words for you–DO IT! Paris has become my absolute favorite European city, as well as home. Why is Paris so great? I don’t even know where to begin. But I’ll try.
First of all, I want to shatter stigmas and stereotypes that exist surrounding the mythical city of Paris. It’s not true that Parisians don’t like Americans. I’ve met incredibly friendly people in the city, none of which have ever expressed anti-American sentiment. It is true, however, that if you try to speak French to a Parisian, they will likely answer you in English if they are able to detect an American accent. Don’t let this get you down. It’s not necessarily because your French sucks! They simply like to practice their English, just like we like to practice our French. So, even if they respond in English, just keep speaking to them in French.
Now–where to live. NYU Paris has great dorms in the 11th arrondissement, and although I lived in an apartment, I think the dorms are a fabulous option, because it’s a great great way to meet people. If you decide to go the apartment route though, I have a few suggestions. My apartment is in the Latin Quarter, which is a great option ifou want to be within walking distance of your NYU Paris classes. If you don’t mind taking the metro, biking, or having a longer walk to class, then I absolutely recommend living in the Marais, which is made up of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. The way I describe he Marais is like Soho in New York, but way way better and less touristy. It’s the youngest and most hip neighborhood in Paris, in my opinion. The food is outstanding, the bars are fun, and the shopping and art galleries are incredible. Also, the Marais is the only neighborhood in Paris that stays open on Sundays–this is something important to keep in mind and something I wish I’d been prepared for before arriving in Paris! Don’t leave your grocery shopping for Sunday because nothing is open unless you go to the Marais, which, depending on where you live, could be inconvenient.
As for sites, there are an insane amount of places and monuments to visit in Paris. There are the obvious ones, like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. But be sure to also visit smaller sites and museums, like l’Orangerie, a beautiful museum. I won’t harp too much on the sites because that would take forever and it’s pretty easy to find them once you’re in Paris. So, here are some tips you may not find in a travel guide. When it gets nice out, picnic as much as possible. The second the sun comes out as it turns from winter to spring, you’ll find people lounging in every garden or park around the city. My personal favorite spot to picnic at is the Tuileries garden, which is right by the Louvre. It’s also nice to lounge by the Seine.
Speaking of the Seine, that river is partially what makes Paris so charming. The Seine is truly magical. Yes, sometimes she looks brown and dirty, but walking along the river on a beautiful, sunny day, or even on a drizzly night, is an unbeatable feeling. You’ll feel like life can’t possibly get better. Aside from the Seine, Paris’ size also makes her a perfect city to study in. Upon first arrival, the city may feel big, but it’s so easy to learn your way around, and it’s even possible to walk most places if you’re more or less centrally located. And if not, both the metro and the public bus are super convenient. You will never get bored in Paris, I can promise you that. A semester is not enough time to visit all the sites and museums and gardens, or to try all of the fabulous restaurants and cafés.
How to prepare to study abroad in the weeks easing up to your arrival? That’s a difficult question to answer. In my opinion, the most important thing you can do is make sure you have the right attitude. It’s more than okay to be nervous–I certainly was. But you should also be excited and most importantly, open-minded and ready to experience new adventures. Things may not go as you expected them to, but that’s just part of the study abroad experience. Plus, you have the support of your peers and the NYU faculty. Studying abroad will be the best decision you ever make, and if you choose Paris, you’re choosing wisely!