The Study in Study Abroad
February 27, 2016
Studying abroad in Paris – meeting new people, exploring your new city like a tourist and a local, going on crazy adventures! The flipside is the actual studying part. It is really easy to get caught up in the excitement and completely forget that you’re still in college and still have work to do. Of course, there is a little leeway because classes do not count towards your GPA, but as the study abroad office warned, potential employers sometimes ask for your transcripts. Putting that aside, many of us accustomed to As and Bs probably don’t want to see our grades take a drastic dip. Or we would rather avoid incoherently babbling in front of our class (exposés i.e. oral presentations are common. But don’t worry – if you think that = your worst nightmare, APA will arrange for you to have another essay instead).
So here are three core tips I could give:
See how your travel and academic schedules match up! Don’t be like me and sign up for an oral presentation slot, right after a weekend in Amsterdam. And then realize you also have an exam and an essay due the same week. Or book a weekend in Berlin during the one mandatory APA academic trip. Check and double-check your calendars!
Don’t always study at home. Find a place to go, be it the APA office, a café, bibliothèeque. Bring a friend and reward yourself with study breaks. A personal favorite is Bibliothèque Centre Pompidou. It’s open on Sundays, has free wifi and a snack bar with student prices.
Ask for help. Obviously, you can talk to your classmates: fellow Americans, Erasmus and local students. Some will be more than willing to share their notes or explain a term. If you are lucky, someone will reach out to you, but don’t be passive! Same goes for the professors. Either talk to them after class or send a quick email, specifying that you are a foreign exchange student. In one of my classes, after a quick chat, my professor agreed to send us the notes for all the lectures! Your host family could also be a valuable resource, especially host siblings, who, if you ask nicely enough (or help them out with some English homework) will glance over your essays. If all of this is not enough, APA provides tutoring. Extremely useful, even if you just want to practice some French grammar, work on pronunciation, etc. But you are welcome to come in with an assignment. I will be doing a run-through of my oral presentation next week. Finally, the APA directors are 100% there for you and will either help themselves or redirect you to the right place.