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Study Abroad Blog

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Do's and Don'ts of Studying Abroad

Ello. I’ve been in France for little over a month now. I’m still learning about the culture and how the French live. But during my month here, I have learned some do’s and don’ts of living in France and studying abroad in general.

My first advice before going abroad is research how the other cultures dress. For example, in France the clothing style is very chic. What I mean by chic is the French wear high quality clothes. They don’t wear baggy sweatshirts, t-shirts, or clothing of poor quality. Now for me, I don’t own one piece of expensive clothing. I’m a bargain shopper, vintage lover, and… poor quality clothing, is my style! Before I didn’t really think my style would differ from the French style. Boy was I wrong and now I’m paying for the consequences. My French friends call me "Country Girl" because I wear baggy jeans and flannels. I have jeans with holes in the knees and every time I see them they go “Brooke, did you fall on your knees?” Well, it’s all poking fun and not a true horror. But it would nice to fit in a little, so I bought some nice jeans that fit well and they don’t have holes. Now for the flannels… that’s still a work in progress. My advice for coming to France is that one must bring some nice pieces of clothing and leave the baggy sweatshirts behind. Oh, and do not wear sandals and socks!

 Pass this beautiful coat everyday
and wish how I could own it

Oh, also temperatures in Aix are a little bizarre! It’s cold in the morning so one needs to wear a jacket, but then in the afternoon it is super hot. At night sometimes one doesn’t even need a jacket and a short sleeve are fine. Other times at night, one freezes their little but off. So temperature here differs just be aware of that when coming to Aix.

Another thing I learned is that one will meet many different nationalities when studying abroad. A beautiful thing to do is share one’s home cuisines with each other. What better way to discover someone’s love than through his or her belly! You share a meal and have beautiful conversations! One thing my friends and I want to do is have a friend’s international thanksgiving. Each person will bring a dish that represents his or her home. I’m super excited for this event because everyone loves food and I love trying new food! My advice to you is to cook with your new international friends; there will be nothing but smiles and satisfied stomachs.

Lastly, when studying abroad go to cultural events. Even if one feels a little out of their comfort zone, it’ll be worth it in the end.  I had the beautiful pleasure of being invited to my French ma and her boyfriend’s birthday party. I went and I was the only American. Luckily one of my French friends accompanied me. I was very nervous and didn’t know what to expect. We arrived and the first five minutes were terrifying, but after I found food and started mingling, everything was wonderful. Then the lights dimmed, the music started and everyone hit the dance floor. I looked on with amazement as everyone was an amazing dancer. They looked like professionals. Boy, was that intimidating, but I went out on that dance floor and grooved my little butt off. A beautiful night I’ll always remember. My advice is to go out and try new “scary” things and one will find out their not so scary after all.

 My French Parents, Me and my french friend (:
Photo courtesy of Eric Ben Attar.

Merci. Bises.

Brooke Begich is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Aix En PRovence, France. She is currently a Junior at Iowa State University.

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