Everyone is going to say, yes I recommend ___insert study abroad site here____! And of course I’m going to be hopping on this train as well, but there are some things that I would say before you book your flight.
Let’s start off with the fact that Paris is a dream. As the semester nears the end, this city has been everything I thought it would be and more, as cheesy as it sounds (speaking of cheese, try the one with truffles).
There is so much to do here in Paris, with many little day or weekend trips just nearby outside of l’Ile de France. If you’re like me and you want to be able to go on weekend trips to other places in Europe, Paris has been quite perfect. Most flights to other cities in Europe have been just around 2 hours, so the rest of the continent is just at your fingertips.
But staying inside of Paris, there are some adjustments that I had to make when coming from the go-go-go of New York. They take things a lot slower here. The pace of life is not as rushed, people sit at a cafe for hours (something I am doing as I write this post), their dinners also quite literally take hours, you don’t take your food to go necessarily (though there are exceptions). There are so many great places to get any kind of food. The coffee is stronger and smaller – espresso will be your new go to and coffee in the States will never be as good. Bread, croissants, baguettes, all of the bakery aboves, going home they will pale in comparison. And of course you’re going to want to try all the wine and the French foods your body can handle. Just make sure that you try it all.
When it does come to eating though, I have a few tips:
Restaurants generally have two periods in which they are open. They’ll be open in the morning and early afternoon for lunch and then close between lunch and dinner. That means if you’re hungry around 5, or even 6 or 6:30, places will still be closed. They reopen around 6:30/7:00 (or 18h30, 19h00 if we’re going to be accurate).
Going out at night and the weekends is different from New York in that it if you start going out at midnight after pregaming, you’re going to have a difficult time finding room anywhere. The going out timeline starts earlier and ends earlier. They like their sleep here, and the metro closes much earlier, which affects your ability to go out. Around 10pm is a prime time to go out. If you’re the kind that likes it crowded and rowdy, you’re going to have to do some digging around on the internet to find the place for you. While there are some places to go out and dance your heart out, it’s a lot more common to go out to a bar or two (bar hopping is also not common) and get a couple cocktails with friends. The nightlife is vivid but not as crazy. This isn’t a Durden’s or Bar None situation. (PS: Oberkampf and Republique are your best friends for finding cool places to go)
Museums are a great place to waste a couple hours after class (or between them). The Pompidou is one of my favorite places to go and their temporary exhibitions are usually just as fascinating as their permanent collection. The library at the Pompidou center is also a great place to get some work done. Make it your Bobst, because it’ll intimidate the hell out of you into doing your work just like in New York. The Louvre will be a place you have to check off your list of Paris to-dos, but don’t forget about Musée d’Orsay where there is the most impressive Impressionist collection ever. Honestly, there are so many other museums, that you’ll never be bored. Fondation Louis Vuitton is a little out of the way but both the building and its collection are really cool. Musée Picasso, Musée de l’Orangerie, and exhibitions that go through Grand Palais are also musts.
Apart from things to do, there are little things that you’ll start to notice if you study abroad here. People are generally really courteous. Whenever you enter a place, you greet whomever with “bonjour” and thank them as you leave with a “merci, bonne journée,” “bonne soirée,” etc. You cannot overuse the niceties like please and thank you. Contrastingly, if you’re on a busy metro around rush hour and need to get off a stop, you have to be very insistent about getting off because people will not move out of the way unless you make yourself heard. I’ve had to say “pardon” and “excusez moi” very sternly sometimes to actually get anyone to let me off.
I could go on and on about this, but I feel like I should stop now before I get too far into it. Being here for the last four months has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. No matter where you end up studying abroad, or whether you do or don’t, getting to study at any of NYU’s sites is a great opportunity. You finish your time knowing another one of the major cities in the world and having that kind of global savvy is something so unique to the university that I couldn’t have asked for anything better.