Before embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, there are several things that may not occur to you that you must take into consideration. While I have not yet left for my trip, I have finished the bulk of my preparations. Below I have listed the most important questions that I had.
1. What documentation do I need before I leave?
In order to receive a Visa for France I had to go through a lengthy and stressful process. First I had to make an account through CampusFrance. Upon completion, I then scheduled a Visa appointment for the nearest consulate, which was five hours away in Chicago. Every consulate has different requirements so make sure you have each and every document that they request or they will deny you for a Visa.
2. What will I need to pack? How can I fit three months of my life into two meager suitcases?
While I have not yet begun to pack, I have started to plan what I will need and how I will fit it all. I found compression bags (the kind that do not require a vacuum) at the store so I can eliminate the extra air in my baggage. Also, Air France only allows one suitcase to be checked for free, so I have decided to pay an extra $100 to check an additional bag. Since I will be in France for the tail end of summer, all of fall and some of winter, I need to pack a varied wardrobe. In order to fit everything and stay warm I am definitely going to need to pack a versatile wardrobe that I am able to mix-and-match to avoid wearing the same thing everyday.
3. How can I communicate with my family and friends back home without paying a fortune?
I have heard horror stories of people bringing their cellphones, not even using them and receiving a bill for thousands of dollars. Therefore, I decided to buy an iPod Touch. The iPod touch has iMessage capabilities through Wifi and I downloaded an application that lets me text non-iPhone users for free through Wifi, as well. I will also be able to Skype and Face Time with family and friends because I am bringing my laptop, which has a webcam.
Preparing for to study abroad can be stressful, but since I have visited France before, I was aware of a few things that I would have to take into consideration before departing. While all the preparations may seem discouraging and time-consuming, I am confident that it will all be worth it.
Want to read more from our students in Paris? Check out “When in France: Some Non-Solicited Advice from a Student in Paris”