These are some pieces of advice directly from the girls of this past semester. Heed their word!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help even if you’re not sure if you’ll need it. About literally anything. (The APA directors are super available, really helpful, and want to make your experience as wonderful as possible. They’re also really cool people, they can be your best allies!)
- Download the WordReference app
- Don’t be afraid of sounding like a foreigner–most people will love it.
- Get out there and be open! Say yes as much as you can to museums, walks, excursions, nightlife, whatever! Best case is you’ll love it, worst case is that you’ll learn something or have a funny story.
- Throw yourself into any experience that comes your way, it’s the only way you’ll will be able to immerse yourself in French culture and have a fantastic semester.
And here are some tips from moi-même:
- Remember that if you choose not to go out, if you decide you have too much work, you’re too tired or you’re just not feeling it, you don’t need to feel bad about it. Yes, you’re in another country and yes, you should be taking chances and getting out of your comfort zone, but don’t feel like you’re a loser if you need to take a night off!
- BUY THE DRESS. I know it’s expensive, I know it might not something you’d wear every day, but you’ll never find anything like it anywhere else. You’ll wear it for years to come and you’re in Paris! Bring something back that says, why yes, I did go to Paris and was surrounded by the highest level of fashion in the world every day. Treat yourself, you won’t regret it.
- Travel alone. It might seem scary, but it is so worth it. You will learn things about yourself and about new places that you never would have going somewhere with other people, plus you have the chance to meet fellow lone travelers. Just remember to stay alert, make sure you have a map, and do a walking tour if you can. Most cities offer a free walking tour and I found that it’s the best way to meet solo travelers.
- Get into the city as much as you can. Look up other travelers’ blogs to find off-beat things to do, places to see, odd little bars or local spots that you would never find if you just visited Paris for a week as a tourist. You have the opportunity to truly indulge in the culture, the social life, the every day wonders.
- Join a club. Do an activity through the university. Join a sports group. It’s an amazing way to meet other French students and to practice speaking. These are all available through the Paris university system, it’s super easy and available. There is a small fee, but it’s no big deal and it’s worth it. I tried to join a club but I tried too late and it was full, and it’s probably my only regret from the semester. If you had a passion in the States, whether it be salsa dancing, photography or badminton, there is a club for in in France. Do it!