The sweet scent of croissants wafting in the air, the soft hum of an accordion filling the streets, and the magical sight of the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night: in many ways, I’ve come to find that this romantic image of Paris is indeed true. It’s nearly impossible to resist the charm of the city while wandering the streets of the Latin Quarter or admiring the skyline from Montmartre.
However, no matter the location, it’s normal to feel somewhat uncomfortable or weary upon initial arrival in your host city. Prior to my arrival in Paris, I anticipated that I would fall in love with the city the second I set foot in it, but the reality of studying abroad is that it typically takes some adjustment before you’re ready to fully embrace your new home. Below are three useful tips to better acclimate to your new lifestyle during the first week of your semester abroad!
#1 Give Yourself Time
It’s likely that your nerves and emotions will come in waves throughout the first few days of your experience abroad, and some of the best advice you can follow is to give yourself the right amount of time and space you need to feel at home. Everyone adjusts at their own pace, so it’s okay to take a little more or less time than those around you. In fact, I found that one of the most comforting aspects of being abroad is that you’re surrounded by other students who are going through the same process as you and understand how you feel despite any personal differences.
#2 Allow Your Body to Catch Up
Given that you’ll only be abroad for a relatively short period of time, it can be tempting to push forward at full speed from the moment you step off the plane. But the forces of jet lag tend to be powerful, and oftentimes what you need more than anything during your first day in a new country is a good night’s sleep. It’s also important to keep your diet in mind and aim to eat balanced meals, while still allowing yourself to enjoy each city’s own local delicacies. (In Paris, that translates to limiting yourself to bread and cheese every other meal!)
#3 Bring Along a Piece of Home
Every student who has studied abroad knows one of the biggest pre-departure challenges can be fitting everything you need for four months into a single suitcase, and it can be difficult deciding how to leave behind certain items in order to make room for others. But a major favor that you can do yourself when packing is making room for an item that may provide some comfort down the line, whether it be a small blanket, photo album, or stuffed animal. A little piece of home can go a long way when you’re feeling overwhelmed in your new city!
Finally, keep in mind that even if you don’t fall in love with your city at first sight, if you follow these guidelines during your first week abroad then you’ll be sure to have a much smoother semester moving forward!
Kylie Forster is the Fall 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Marist College.