Have you ever dreamed of walking through cobblestone streets with the breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower ahead and the aroma of fresh-baked baguettes wafting through the air? What about while you’re in college AND learning a new language? It may seem like a distant and unattainable idea to study abroad while in the middle of a pandemic, but what better way to spend this extra time than to plan for future adventures? Here are some of my tips on how to make the most of your time in “La Ville Lumière”.
1. Picnic at the Eiffel Tower
One of the most iconic sights in Paris is the Eiffel Tower. Whether it’s a warm and sunny day or the beginning to a fun night on the town, a picnic at the Eiffel Tower is highly recommended. Grab a blanket, a few friends, some cheese, and a baguette (or 2) and you’re set!
2. Attend shows
Even if you’re new to the French language, don’t be afraid to see shows in the language…that’s how you learn! Plus, there are many theaters that have subtitles available. This goes for movie theaters and live performances alike.
3. Sip hot chocolate in the Luxembourg Gardens
This rich and decadent hot chocolate is like no other. One location is situated right in the Luxembourg Gardens, a beautiful place for a walk or a quick game of pétanque.
4. Go thrift/antique shopping
There are a ton of unique opportunities to shop in Paris. If you’re looking for an opportunity to look into the past, there is a great thrift shop called Chinemachine near Pigalle. There are also some fun flea markets in the Place des Abbesses, which has a very vibrant and quirky energy, that are definitely worth checking out.
5. Be aware of events happening around you
I was lucky enough to be in Paris during fashion week, and while there, I happened to be next to a huge event at the Louvre. Although I couldn’t get too close, I still feel so amazed to have been there. If you find yourself in a similar situation, take advantage of it! Research and know exactly what is going on in Paris (or anywhere you study for that matter) so you will be able to get in on the action. There is a Facebook group called “Erasmus Paris” which is a great resource for things like this.
1. Take the same path to school every day
It wasn’t until a series of strikes closed transportation that I began exploring new ways to get to school. Changing up your routine is a great way to explore the city and make every day exciting.
2. Stick to a few meals
It is easy to get into the rhythm of stopping by the pâtisserie for a croissant every day (trust me), but this is a great time to explore new foods! I am a vegetarian, and I was nervous about finding things I could eat and like there. However, I found a lot of new options, and it feels great to have stepped out of my comfort zone.
3. Feel like you must stay in one place
One thing I was not expecting going into my abroad experience is how eager everyone would be to travel outside of France once we got there. Why would we leave when it was our dream to go there? I’ll tell you why. This was the time to explore a new part of the world! For example, if you are coming from the United States, it will be much easier and less expensive to get from Paris to London during a long weekend rather than waiting and going to London from the U.S. later on.
4. Go without a Navigo Pass
This is the transportation card that you will scan to get on the Métro. It is much easier to buy this than to buy tickets each day if you are there for an extended period of time.
5. Forget a converter
When packing, be mindful that you need a converter to be able to charge your phone, use your hair-dryer, etc. Make this a top priority because it will be more complicated to purchase one once you’re in a new city with an uncharged phone.
As you’re reading through this list, don’t forget to take a deep breath and realize that you really can’t get it wrong. Paris (and study abroad in general) is a different experience for everyone and a beneficial one, no matter what you do or who you are. I wish you luck on your trip abroad, wherever it may lead you!
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