Michelle Sohne is a student at Texas A&M University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Paris, France.
1. Make a budget
Before you study abroad, you’ll want to make a budget. Make sure you research and are prepared for how much you may need. It will significantly help you to organize your spending for food, supplies, leisure, and excursions. Download an app or find a way to track your spending easily. You have been warned: there will be very tempting patisseries and boulangeries at every corner you turn.
2. Set your alarm clock everyday, including the weekends
I say this because there is not a moment to waste. Paris, France is an enormous city. I don’t think it is possible to explore every inch of the city even with a full semester. In addition to the weekend trips and out of France excursions, you’ll be happy to you made time to discover Paris a little at a time everyday.
3. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone
You are in an unfamiliar place, and your instinct is to probably create a shell of protection. Don’t just surround yourself with the other American students. Instead, try to make new friendships and meet locals with those Americans. Creating authentic relationships will help you beyond measure. It will not only force you to practice the language, but will open up doors to many different opportunities. You can’t just reply on Trip Advisor and Yelp, trust me.
4. Be prepared for culture shock
One thing I wasn’t expecting was the abrupt change in lifestyle and culture. Again, do some research before you get to Paris because everything changes really fast. A few of the any things I’ve discovered through my experience abroad: the fast-paced lifestyle, energy and space conservation efforts, diversity in all aspects, eco-friendliness, love for bread and cheese, the unpredictable transportation systems, chic presentation styles, and very long meals. Realize the experience is different for every person depending on the background they come from. That’s the fascinating part of culture. Just be prepared to adapt and accept change and you’ll have a great time creating life long memories.
The world awaits…discover it.