24 Things I Learned While Studying Abroad In Paris

24 Things I Learned While Studying Abroad In Paris

Paris is a city unlike any other.

Studying abroad is an irreplaceable experience, my time in Paris now a cherished memory. I lived and I (most definitely) learned. These are the things that Google doesn't tell you before you go It’s important to research customs before traveling to a new country.

1. The importance of experiences > things.

2. Knowledge is empowering.

3. The French can detect Americans from a mile away.

4. Uber is a legitimate lifesaver.

5. Length truly doesn’t define the quality of a friendship.

6. Sometimes it is okay to just go with the flow of things.

7. I could never live in a fashion capital because I love comfy clothes too much.

8. That smoking cigarettes, even in Disneyland Paris, is completely acceptable.

9. Jet-lag is a real thing.

10. Raising your hand at your server in a restaurant is expected, otherwise they won’t ever come back to check on your table.

11. Grafitti is an absolute art.

12. You have to fight for a place on the suburban train in the morning.

13. Open-mic nights are a must.

14. Microwaves, air conditioning, and window screens are unheard of.

15. The French like to stare.

16. “To go boxes” are not a thing.

17. Pizza is delivered via moped.

18. They don’t believe in Ranch dressing (devastating, I know).

19. Milka chocolate bars are to die for.

20. Making friends with the locals is beneficial.

21. Public restrooms are not free.

22. Seeing the Eiffel Tower at night really is magical.

23. The content on Netflix changes when you leave the country.

24. Living in Paris was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Cover Image Credit: Breanna Gereg

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.


Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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13 Cheap ways to travel through Europe for less money than you'd spend staying in the u.S.

A study abroad student's tips for traveling through Europe on a budget


Traveling through Europe on a budget can be tough. There are SO many tempting things to spend your money on, so how do you decide? After spending a semester studying abroad in Europe I've learned how to travel Europe on a budget and where to go cheap and where to splurge. If I could do it on a college budget, you can too. Here are some cheap ways to travel through Europe and some tips and tricks I learned along the way. I've grouped my tips by eating, getting around and being a tourist, so you can jump around and read whatever best suits your needs.

1. Yelp

Yelp can be a great place to find cheap and yummy restaurants.

Yelp can be one of the best ways to find well-acclaimed food in a foreign country for cheap. Not every country will use Yelp, but a quick google of "food near me" will do the trick. Be sure to do your research before eating somewhere as many times restaurants will try and scam tourists.

2. Grocery stores

Grocery stores are the most important place to pick up quick snacks and meals.

You don't have to eat every meal at a restaurant. Sometimes the grocery store can tell you just as much about a country's culture as food at a restaurant can. Stock up on some snacks to carry with you or get a small lunch to tide you over and save money.

3. Market hop

Markets have tons of fun food options for cheap.

So many European countries have huge markets filled with food, drinks and fun goodies. These markets are great ways to experience the food of a country, plus they're usually really affordable and a great time.

4. Public transportation

Subways, trollies and busses make travel across cities cheap and easy.

A lot of the time public transportation in big cities is meant to accommodate tourists as well. Look at the prices of a subway ticket versus an Uber ride before you order the Uber. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to get around, especially with the help of city mapper.

5. Airbnb vs. hotels

Hotels can sometimes be cheaper than Airbnb's or offer more perks.

In some cities, Airbnb is a great way to save money and still experience life in the city, but in others, you can be stuck super far outside all the action. Shop around when looking for lodging and don't be afraid to spend a little more if it means you'll be saving on transportation and having a significantly better experience. Sometimes a hotel can be the better option especially when you factor in the free breakfast.*

*Hostels are also an option but they kinda scare me.

6. Train vs. plane

Trains make a good option when airfare gets too pricey.

Doing your research is the most important factor when traveling through Europe on a budget. Depending on how long you will be staying in Europe and how far you will be traveling, it may be worth it to purchase a rail discount card, for a percentage off each of your tickets. Sometimes traveling by air can be cheaper and easier, if that's the case I totally recommend EasyJet, I had great experiences with them every time. (RyanAir is horrible, avoid at all costs: here's why.)

7. Pinterest walking tours

DIY walking tours are free and fun.

Why pay for a walking tour of a city when you can find free ones on Pinterest? Many times bloggers will have mapped out walking tours of a city ready to be followed. Pick out what you want to see and follow along for free!

8. Planning & prioritizing

Save money by picking what's most important to you.

Unless you're spending a month in each country you WILL NOT be able to see everything, if you do, you won't get the full experience. Make sure you sit down and prioritize what you want to see and what you want to spend the most time at. Also be sure to check and make sure things will be open to the public on the date you plan to go so you don't waste time and money getting there (I may or may not have made this mistake).

9. Sharing & group rates

Group rates offer discounts for people traveling together.

Traveling in a group of 10 or more? You might be able to get a discount on things like train tickets or admission passes.

The other perk of traveling in a group is being able to share. Only want half a meal? Share. Want an appetizer and a main? Share.

10. Just looking

Just looking from the outside is another hack to see everything and to save time and money when traveling in Europe.

Another cheap way to travel through Europe is by just looking. There is no shame in not going into every castle and every church, sometimes looking from the outside is more than enough.

11. Chain stores

Chain stores often offer souvenirs at good prices.

Chain Stores like Primark or Walmart often have great souvenirs for whatever city you're in, and at a reasonable price! Plus going to stores like this gives you an excuse to shop and a look at what fashion around the world may look like.

12. iPhone camera lenses

iPhone lenses enhance camera quality on the cheap.

Carrying a camera around with you can be heavy and risky, not to mention nice cameras are expensive. Try purchasing lenses meant for your iPhone camera for a much cheaper and more compact option.

13. Burner phone

Prepaid phone plans make getting around cheaper and easier.

Sometimes it's just not possible to get around without a phone, and paying for international data may be expensive. Instead buy a cheap phone from a convenience store and use this for all of your data needs. This way you won't have to worry about your phone dying either.

Cover Image Credit:

Margaret Barley

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