4 Tips I Wasn’t Given but I’m Now Giving You About NYU Paris

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, Paris, 14. Tips by Zoya3 Comments

  1. Know at least a handful of phrases coming in. It’s okay if you didn’t study French before coming here! The point of studying away is to have a completely new experience and learning a completely new language is definitely part of many students’ experiences. But to make it easier on yourself is to at least spare 20 minutes to look up useful phrases you can whip out to help you get around. Some example phrases to help you out:
    • “Bonjour!” – “Hello!”
    • “Où je peux trouver ___ ?” – “Where can I find ___ ?”
    • “Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît.” – “Speak slowly, please.”
    • “En fait, parlez-vous anglais?” – “Actually, do you speak English?”
    • “Ah, ça va! C’est pas grave!” – “Ah, never mind, it’s okay!”
    • “Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais couramment?” – “Excuse me, do you speak English fluently?”
  2. Actually on that note of knowing at least a bit of French phrases, know at least the basics of French history. Not only does it prevent you from becoming that stereotypical ignorant American tourist, but knowing simple things like what Bastille Day is and who Descartes was can really accentuate the experience of living in a foreign city so much more; and you will start to notice small bits of history hidden in something as overlooked as wall graffiti.
  3. Realize that this is now a small school. Also welcome week. Currently, this really only applies to upperclassman coming in from NYU New York, as me and many of my peers were. Coming from a campus that hosts a staggering 25k of just undergraduates for a total of 57k undergraduates, graduates and professional students, it’s very humbling to come to a tiny (in contrast) campus of 200 students. And unless you came with your entire squad from back home, you’re probably going to need to make friends with some of them. You’re going to love re-living the freshman year experience of painstakingly making small talk introductions with everyone you meet until some of them stick and the rest you will awkwardly make eye contact with in hallways and then look away like you guys totally didn’t see each other. That last part might actually just be me being awkward. But really it’s not so bad living in a smaller school experience, because I’ve met people I would never have met in the social circles I had back in New York, friends I’ve certainly now made for life. Plus the numerous introductions are actually pretty fun because I get to talk about one topic I never tire of talking about: Paris.
  4. Lower your expectations. Everyone you talked to about studying abroad loved it right? Well, almost everyone mindful of that guy who got pick-pocketed that one time in Rome and bitterly swore of Italy for the rest of his life; but yeah, essentially everyone right? They said it was amazing. They said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They told you you wouldn’t be able to get a chance like this at any other point in your life. Did I mention they said that it was amazing ? Well, stop that. Having high expectations in general can be good or bad depending on the situation, but in this situation you should probably lower them because of all the hype around it. Personally, studying abroad was actually amazing. Really and truly. But having high expectations will probably have you lower your guard, and you’ll come off the plane expecting to have amazing served to you on a silver platter. Obtaining the amazing isn’t easy, it’s there and it’s obtainable, but it’s not easy. The amazing part, is the fruition of all your hard work and determination to become a true inhabitant of a new culture. It is not an outside marvel that gives the experience such wonder, it is what you do that is amazing.

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  1. Hey Zoya,
    I love and totally agree with your last tip. There is sooo much hype around studying abroad and such a social pressure both while you are abroad and when you come back for you to have these incredible stories that make you sound like a YouTuber vlogging their oh-so-exciting life or a fashion blogger galavanting around in finery. But studying abroad, while it can be fabulous and extraordinary at times, is also stressful, isolating and confusing to navigate. It’s not all wine and cheese and happiness, although that is definitely a part of the picture.

  2. Hi Zoya,
    I completely agree with your second tip! In Prague they give you a rough breakdown of Czech (particularly the most recent) history so you aren’t so ignorant. But honestly, understanding the history of a place really helps one to understand the culture and the things you see on a day to day basis. I found it especially pertinent given Czech’s recent history with Communism but I believe it applies everywhere. Great tip for future students or even just visitors!

  3. Zoya, I think your tips are really applicable for most of the study abroad sites! You really hit all the main points of studying abroad comparing my friends at other sites and my own experiences. I wasn’t aware of how much it would be like freshman year all over again going from NYU’s main campus to one of the abroad sites. Everything else is a great way to start immersing yourself in another culture!

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