Studying abroad is a dream for a lot of college students. From spending endless days at the beach to visiting somewhere new every week, studying in another country has become romanticized to the point where some people end up experiencing a major shock when they arrive at the country of study of their choice. After a month of living abroad in Paris, here are some tips and realistic reflections on how it has been.
What people post on Instagram is a quaint little Parisian studio looking like it came straight out of a movie, with cobblestone roads and Beauty and the Beast style windows. What they don't see are the problems that come with a hundred-year-old studio - from water leaks to thin walls to inefficient energy consumption, studios that allow for such aesthetic pictures comes at a great price.
Honestly, the novelty of being in a new city and a new place will probably outweigh these problems, but it's important to be prepared when these things do happen. But if you don't speak the language of the country, it can be very hard to solve problems like these that arise. Not only are there language barriers, but stores and services in each country are also open to different times. In Paris, if there's a problem with a water leak on a Saturday night, don't expect to be able to find a plumber until at least mid-day Monday.
Before arriving in a new country, you may also have pre-existing preconceptions about the area. You may have prepared yourself in advance, determining that the generally rude people an aversion to English speakers would never bother you. But when you're fully immersed in the city, exposed to the judgments and non-stop streams of French, your brain could quickly burn out. Make sure to give yourself some alone time every few days when you're in a foreign country because your brain will need that time to recharge and reflect. If you don't, it is very easy to burn out.
It takes time to get used to a new city, and it takes time to start to understand a new place. You may feel frustrated in the first few weeks or even months, but when you finally settle into the pace of the city, it will truly become a rewarding experience. Sometimes you just want to fly home and go back to late night taco runs, boba shops, and big brunches, but you will learn to appreciate the country you're studying in for what it offers. There's no need to fly to a new extravagant location every weekend to enjoy the study abroad experience. That daily walk to the bakery across the street will become one of the most memorable parts of your experience, and you'll never forget the times when you almost got lost in the city with your new friends.
Study abroad if you can - you'll grow so much as a person and expose yourself to just how diverse this world is.