- Bring your favorite sweatshirt from home. It’s nice to have something cozy that reminds you of home, and it can get cold inside (radiator heat takes some getting used to and, at least in my host family, they air the house everyday by opening all the windows).
- You will miss the United States at times, but it’ll be ok. You’ll want to give up and go home, but think about when you were applying to study abroad and how excited you were. Remind yourself that you’re only there for a few months.
- Do a homestay — like any university housing you’ll have to get used to roommates. Your family might not fit the dream you had planned, but I promise you that it will be so worth it. There might be ups and downs and cultural misunderstandings, but that is part of the study abroad experience. They can also help you navigate everyday life. Don’t let the horror stories scare you! Give it a try and if it really doesn’t work out you can talk to housing (they are pretty helpful).
- Save some weekends to stay in your host country; traveling all the time gets exhausting and you don’t want to spend 3 months there to come home and have no stories about your own city. Tip: don’t travel the weekend before midterms. I was very thankful that I didn’t.
- Travel! I’m not saying that you have to spend every single weekend in your host country. Quite honestly, traveling has made my host country feel even more like home. I love exploring places then coming back to the comfort of my host family. My host family enjoyed hearing about all my travels.
- If you travel, plan wisely. In the beginning, I was jetting off at 6:00AM on Friday and returning at 10:00PM on Sunday. I got very run down, and I felt like I was falling behind on work. I found it less stressful to leave on Thursday night and return on Sunday morning or afternoon. That way I had two full days to explore and travel and the rest of Sunday to recover and do work.
- Be a yes-man and never turn down a new adventure whether it’s searching for the best crêpes, simply walking around Paris, or meeting friends for a night out. Some of my favorite memories are from when I spontaneously said “yes.”
- Take time to look around. I found myself rushing to class every morning, and I didn’t really notice some of the things along my daily commute. After class I explored Rue Daguerre and took the time to stop in some of the shops. I found a cute Parisian outfit and had a great conversation in French with the saleswoman at one of the boutiques. I also learned about Beaujolais Nouveau day by stopping in one of the wine shops to try the first wine of the year.
- Get lost in your host city. Walking around is free, and I felt like a true Parisian when I confidently walked down the streets. One day I had no plans but to walk around Le Marais. I ended up finding my favorite crêperie, La Droguerie, and I went there every week while it was still warm. You never know what you’ll bump into, so find your own secret gems.
- Take lots of pictures! I maxed out the storage on my phone with all my pictures, but now I have so many memories to look back on.
And lastly, savor every minute. It sounds cliché, but it really does go by in the blink of an eye. Soon enough you’ll be back in your seemingly boring old routine at school.
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<p>I love everything water! I was a swimmer and water polo player in high school, and now I am on the rowing team at my school. When I'm not at practice I can frequently be found at the beach, pool, or on a hike.</p>