“The siren that is this city speaks to us insistently even after we’ve moved away. She belongs to us, truly, and to each in a different way. Paris nous appartient.”
I have few words for my experience abroad. Even after being home for over two weeks I can’t put into words the wonder and amazement I feel. In the last three months I have completely fallen in love with Paris and it has become my city. Looking through old journal entries, I found a common thread linking them together: the life lessons I have learned, and perfected, abroad. I wanted to share my thoughts and ramblings with future students grappling with their upcoming semester abroad and fellow alumni who like me, are now seasoned veterans.
1. Be respectful of where you are.
You are no longer in America and it’s wise to adapt to life in a different country.
2. Learn the language.
You will gain a far better understanding of the life and the culture if you try and speak the language at every possible moment. That, and it makes asking for directions a whole lot easier.
3. Try the local cuisine even if you’re convinced you’re going to hate it.
Trust me, you actually might love it.
4. Let go of technology.
It may seem crazy in our tech savvy world to forgo technology in favor of a traditional map and a cellphone without a camera, but it was one of the best things I could have done for myself. Life is in front of you! Don’t miss it because you’re snapchatting.
5. Spend some time alone.
Take advantage of the time you have by yourself. Some of my best memories are the times I walked the city alone. The best thing you can learn is that just because no one else wants to go to a specific museum or monument doesn’t mean you yourself can’t go. Grab your map and go explore exactly what you want to explore.
6. When in Paris, do as the Parisians do.
Pop into a boulangerie and buy a fresh baguette. Don’t even wait to make it home, bite into the deliciously warm bread and let your taste buds explode.
7. Say yes to any and every experience.
8. Forget about calories.
It is almost inevitable you will gain some weight while abroad. But you will notice that European women never deprive themselves of food, they simply eat in moderation. Food should never be a cause for fear or stress, it should be enjoyed.
9. Let go of your insecurities and feel confident.
You had enough courage to go abroad, never forget that.
10. Finally, remember Paris (or any country you choose) is yours.