My parents recently visited me in Paris, and left with heavy hearts, noting that I was very lucky to be living in a city such as Paris for four months. They put into perspective what I was starting to forget. Everyday I am charmed by it, but my appreciation had seemed to wane over the past few months. They reminded me just how amazing life is for Parisians, and how I am now part of that category of lucky individuals.
Yes, I would recommend Paris to other students looking to study abroad. However, I cannot compare my life to that of students living in other cities which I haven’t visited. I can only give as much advice as my experience abroad has allowed me to share. I would advise students that the NYU Paris program is considerably small, and most if not all classes are held in one building. You will become close with your classmates who you see every day not only on campus, but at the dorm. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the city is boundless if you feel trapped in a mundane existence of traveling from dorm to campus and seeing the same faces. I assure you, it doesn’t have to feel as small as it can sometimes. As for language barriers, you’ll be learning French as your time in Paris passes, and I felt fine going into the program with little to no experience with the language. Most everyone speaks English, but always make an effort to exercise your use of French. Pro tip, download the app Duo Lingo before coming.
As for dorm living, I enjoyed living in Maison Ile-de-France, where I felt like I was experiencing an actual college campus for the first time, considering New York’s widespread layout. I enjoyed meeting international students in the common kitchen on my floor and the suburbian feel of the surrounding area. Montsouris Park across the street provided a good dose of greenery and foliage where you could recognize the changing of seasons throughout the semester. You’ll want to buy your monthly train pass with someone who is fluent in French as soon as you can, so you can quickly get to exploring Paris beyond the classroom and dormitory. I also would keep in mind, although it is beaten into your mind throughout orientation, that pick-pocketers are ruthless and to always keep in mind where your valuables are while traveling.
As for horizons beyond Paris, yes, it is good to book trips far in advance to reserve the cheapest tickets, but I would remind incoming students to see which airport they are closest to before purchasing anything. Don’t fly out of CDG when Orly is 20 minutes closer, and do not buy layover tickets when you’ll only be somewhere for 2 or 3 days at most. If I could recommend one piece of advice about traveling while at NYU Paris, it would be to see the rest of France. Go to the beaches of Normandy where U.S. and Parisian history converge, or visit the countryside for a wine tour in the Rhone valley.
Lastly, I would tell students to be smart and safe and keep up with what is happening around them. Stay up to date with the current state of the city and immerse yourself in Parisian events, pop-culture, news, and politics. If you’re worried about losing touch with what is happening at home, download the Skimm app which gives a daily dose of U.S. current events. I am sad to soon be leaving Paris, so much so that I am considering coming back my Senior year, if that says anything about my experience here. I hope other students can come and feel the same passion I did for Paris.