Your One-Stop Shop for Everything Paris and Study Abroad
When I first decided to study abroad I looked for every tip trick and packing list I could find. Studying abroad was a foreign thing for me and I honestly had no clue where to even start when it came to preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So, I thought it’d be extremely beneficial to create a post with everything I recommend and wish I knew before going abroad.
Tips and Tricks for Studying Abroad
Learn the Language
I thought I’d be fine knowing not a lick of French but that proved to be wrong real fast. I recommend learning a few phrases that can help you navigate the metro, order your breakfast and coffee, and ask for help.
Learning abroad with CEA CAPA.
Keep a Scrapbook or a Journal
One of the best pieces of advice I received was to create a scrapbook or journal with bits and pieces from your travels. I started a journal where I kept all metro tickets, museum tickets, napkins, perfume samples, and pictures. It’s such a fun thing to have, show your friends, and to look back on when you're older.
Bring a Little Cash
Everything I saw said not to bring cash because almost every place in Paris takes Apple Pay… Which is true, but there are a few places like the local markets, Christmas markets, and flea markets that only accept cash. It’s also important to have some in case the store or place you go is having difficulty with their card machines.
Checking out local markets.
Plan Trips in Advance
Weekend trips are one of the best parts of studying abroad and one thing I recommend is to create a list of places you want to go and when. It's super helpful if you schedule and buy tickets for those places ahead of time. I didn’t realize how difficult it was to plan and coordinate trips once you're actually abroad. So having at least an idea and a few trips planned already takes a lot of stress away.
Prague Fall Break Trip with two of my CEA CAPA friends!
Create a Bucket List
One of the best things I did before I left to study abroad in Paris was create a Paris Bucket List. This list consisted of restaurants, coffee shops, parks, museums, stores, and more. This was such an amazing thing to have because on the weekends or my days off I had a list of things to do to keep me busy. This also allowed me to take advantage and really experience all Paris had to offer.
Crossing off Parisian bucket list items!
Budgeting for Laundry and Metro
Before I left I didn’t know that I had to pay every week/month for my laundry and transportation. The Paris Metro offers daily, weekly, and monthly passes. Since I was there for an extended period of time, I opted for the monthly pass. This pass costs around $90 per month. I also learned that I had to pay up to $10 a week for my laundry. The laundromats can get pretty pricey so I recommend factoring in these prices when budgeting for your trip abroad.
Pack your Favorite Snacks
When I began to pack for study abroad I didn’t include any of my favorite snacks because I thought I could find them all in Paris. That isn’t the case. If you love a specific kind of chip, trail mix, protein bar, protein powder, or pretty much any kind of snack, bring it along with you. There are plenty of amazing snacks in Paris but there’ll be a few times where you’re just craving your favorite hometown or childhood snacks.
Skip the Metro
One of my best pieces of advice is to occasionally, skip the metro. The metro is extremely efficient but unfortunately, it’s underground and you really don’t get to see all Paris has to offer when you're traveling underground. I spent most of my days walking places rather than taking the Metro and I absolutely loved it because that’s how I found some of my favorite areas, restaurants, and stores.
Walking around instead of taking the metro.
You Don’t Need a French SIM Card or Bank Account
Every recommendation page I saw said that I needed to buy a French SIM Card and open a French bank account/card. This is not necessarily true for everyone. Many U.S. phone services and banks offer international plans. I recommend looking into this and seeing all the services available for international services.
Amazon is not the same as it is in the U.S.
I assumed that Amazon was as big of a deal in France as it is in the U.S. This wasn’t the case. Delivering packages is quite the hassle in France and it can be extremely hard to receive them if you don’t have an address that accepts packages or has a person receiving those packages for you. Luckily CEA CAPA was located in a building with many other businesses and they had a front desk which is where the packages got delivered.
Make Local Friends
Making a few French and local friends while studying abroad makes all the difference in the world when it comes to your study abroad experience.
Two of my French friends I met through the CEA CAPA Communication and Global Competence Course.
Use Your Student Visa for Free Entry to (most) Museums
If you're an EU resident from the age of 18-26 you can get into the majority of Paris’ museums for free. Many museums also offer free admission to art/fashion students. If you bring along proof of identification (your visa, your student ID, your European ID) you can experience some of the most amazing museums without having to pay a penny.
Experiencing museums across Paris.
Pickpocketing is REAL
You hear it all the time… but pickpocketing is a big issue in Paris, especially on the Metro. I highly recommend not sitting in the chairs by the doors because that’s the prime spot for pickpockets to snatch your phone and run. I also recommend just staying off your phone while you're in the metro because if it looks like you’re really invested in your phone and not on what’s going on around you, pickpockets will immediately see you as a target. Plus, make sure you bring a bag that zips so that it makes it harder for pickpockets to take things from your bag.
If you don’t want to have to pay 25 cents every time you go to the store for a bag, I highly recommend investing in a fold up reusable bag. Plus it’s an easy way to practice sustainable travel! I brought one of my baggu fold up bags that fit in my purse and school bag and boy did it come in handy. These bags are great for grocery shopping.
Put Yourself out There
Participate in CEA CAPA excursions on weekend and day trips, say yes to going to dinner with new people, sign up for a local sports team, and make a point to get to know all of the people in your study abroad program!
CEA CAPA Excursion to Deauville/Trouville.
Bring a Portable Charger
One of the best things I brought with me was my portable charger. My CEA CAPA housing was controlled by my phone so I had to make sure my phone was charged at all times. This is why it's important to at least keep a portable charger on you in case you run low on battery after a long school day or a long travel day.
The Metro isn't Open all Night
The Paris metro is open from 5:30 a.m. to around 1:15 a.m. on Sunday- Thursday and 5:30 a.m. to 2:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. This is important to consider when you’re going out late.
Always Start a Conversation with Bonjour
A small Bonjour can go a long way. It really is true that just by saying hello it can make a difference on how you’re treated and how pleasurable your experience in that place will be. Showing a little effort to attempt to speak their language can help you gain brownie points and respect from the host, shop owner, or honestly anyone you’re speaking to.
Studying abroad really is a once in a lifetime experience and there’s truly nothing like experiencing living in a foreign country by yourself for the first time. So slow down, take it all in, sit at a café and watch the world go by and most of all just enjoy the experience and savor every minute of your time abroad.
Savoring every moment of studying abroad.
One of my favorite things to do in my free time is create “itineraries” or “recommendation lists” for my friends' future vacations and trips… So here’s my list for future study abroad students spending the semester in the most amazing city ever… PARIS!
Exploring around the Eiffel Tower with friends!
One of my favorite things in the entire world is trying new and fun restaurants and boy does Paris have some one-of-a-kind restaurants, cafés, and brasseries. Here are just a few of the amazing places I dined at in Paris!
- Brasserie Rosie: An adorable and delicious restaurant. Highly recommend getting the cheesy-coquillette jambon truffle.
- Le Relais de L'entrecôte: The BEST Steak Frites. For $30 a person you get two massive servings of fries and steak and a small salad to start.
- Pink Mamma: Delicious Italian Food. The truffle pasta is to die for!
- Kodawari Ramen: Delicious ramen in an amazingly decorated restaurant. The decor makes you feel like you’re eating in a Japanese fish market and the restaurant is also on the Michelin Guide.
- Ferdi: Get the burger with a side of Mac and cheese and thank me later.
Dinand par Ferdi Cheeseburger.
- Bouillon République: A Paris institution where you can get a 3-course meal for CHEAP! Just be prepared to sit right on top of other people.
- HolyBelly: An American style breakfast with a little French flare. They have amazing hash browns and yogurt bowls!
- Miznon: The best Cauliflower I’ve ever had. They also have a variety of delicious pita sandwiches.
Paris Coffee Shops and Boulangeries
- Cuvée Noire: Specialty coffees as well as classic coffees (iced or hot).
Cuvée Noire Coffee and Croissant.
- Terres de Café: There are multiple locations, and their flat white is delicious.
- The Coffee: Another place where you’ll find iced and hot coffees offered in a variety of flavors, and sweetness levels.
- Laize: Super close to CEA CAPA and they have the most aesthetically pleasing coffee shop. Their coffee is also top tier!
- Bo&Mie: known as a “creative boulangerie.” They offer a little bit of everything. You can either pop in for a quick croissant or grab a seat and a salad/sandwich for lunch. I highly recommend the raspberry croissants, the almond croissants, New York Rolls, and their sandwiches.
- French Bastards: Such a fun place offering everything from your average boulangerie finds to some unique pastries and lunch items. My favorites were the Chocolate eclairs, the croissants, the pain suisse, and the chocolate cruffin.
- Buddy Buddy: A nut butter café with delicious drinks and treats.
Paris Museums and Landmarks
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs
The Mode et Sport Exhibit at Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
- Palais Garnier
- The Pantheon
- La Galerie Dior: (Need to book tickets pretty far in advance)
The Main Staircase at La Galerie Dior.
- Sainte Chapelle
- The Louvre
- Hôtel de la Marine
Hôtel de la Marine.
- Trocadero and Champ de Mars
Paris Neighborhoods and Streets
- Le Marais
- Rue de Rivoli
- Rue Montorgueil
- Boulevard Haussmann
Eiffel Tower Night with CEA CAPA Friends!
If you already decided on studying abroad, congratulations you’re going to have the time of your life! If you’re still thinking about studying abroad I couldn’t recommend it more.
Enjoy your time abroad and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding study abroad and Paris!
Madison Visinsky is studying Communications, Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Kansas. Madison is a CEA CAPA alumni insider who studied abroad in Paris, France during the Fall '23 semester.
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