A Throwback to When I Studied Abroad

Many of you know that this isn’t my first time living in another country. Two years ago around this time, I left Tampa for Paris, France. I spent that spring semester living with a host family, exploring France and other countries, making friends, and fueling my desire to work abroad.

I started learning French in middle school, and more seriously in high school and college. I liked the idea of being able to communicate with more people in the world, and it actually motivated me to study abroad. “Why France?” you ask. “And especially, why Paris?” I’ll admit that Paris can seem like a cliché place to study abroad. It’s the most visited city in the world. Millions of people flock there each year to see the Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur, the Louvre and the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. So naturally, France is one of the hottest study abroad destinations. After going through the limited options offered by public universities in Florida, I was left with Paris (and what a great option it was).

Paris is the large, cosmopolitan, glamourous, and slightly bougie city that I’m sure you imagine it to be – but it’s also more. It’s hipster, dirty, and full of graffiti. It’s mostly cold and rainy, which was a shock for me. It’s full of amazing restaurants, parks and museums. Some of my favorite times were spent wandering around the various arrondissements, discovering new neighborhoods and trying foods that weren’t French. The common stereotype of the French (and especially Parisians) are that they’re cold and rude. Those people exist, but I rarely experienced this. The more effort I made to blend in and speak the language, the more people warmed up to me. For those of you who will go abroad at some point, I encourage you to not stick to the large group of “loud Americans.” It’s more rewarding, I promise.

Besides improving in a foreign language, the positive effects of studying abroad are limitless. I became much more self-reliant. As a result of not having a cell phone plan with data, I finally learned how to read a map. Also, just like with new situations in the U.S., you are made to put yourself out there more in social situations. Initially, I spent a lot of time alone because I was too nervous to go out. By making an effort to find conversation exchange events and meetup groups, I met people.

IMG_2172
My mom and grandmas came to visit me for a week.

On a more current note, being a student in another country is vastly different from working in one. I didn’t have to deal with paying bills, setting up my internet and paying taxes in France. In a way, this makes me want to try living in France again to experience it from a new perspective.

 

 

2 comments

  1. […] Studying abroad left a big impression on me. I loved the challenge of communicating in a different language, being able to explore a new city on my own without cell phone service (this is before I knew about downloading Google maps to use offline), and learning about different cultures and ways of life. However, studying abroad only gives you one perspective about living abroad. As my last year of university approached, I knew I wanted to go back abroad and work, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. My opportunity ultimately came from the Fulbright Program. I started this blog when I was preparing to move to Turkey, but I never wrote about the program that made it all possible! […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s