Preparing for study abroad can be a daunting time. Whether you’re going as a compulsory part of your degree, or just for a new experience, it can be hard to know what to expect until you get there. To help you, we asked five students currently spending a year abroad in Paris for some real practical advice. Here are some of their answers:
What’s your favourite thing about Paris?
Helen: “It’s such a beautiful city. Sitting by the Seine on a Summer’s evening makes you feel like you’re in a movie. Also, cheap wine.”
Fran: “I love the way it looks, and how concentrated everything is around the centre so you’re never more than a half hour’s walk away from amazing spots.”
Zac: “Wiiiine! Try natural wine: delicious, cheap and sulphite free so no bad hangover.”
What’s one thing you wish you’d known before you got here?
Lorenzo: “That it doesn’t matter if I embarrass myself speaking French and I should just go out and try.”
Helen: “A year seems like such a long time, but it goes by unbelievably quickly. Enjoy every second and don’t put anything off!”
Fran: “How different the culture around university is to the UK.”
How easy is it to navigate around the city?
Helen: “Coming from London, Paris seems comparatively small so it’s pretty easy to navigate. I’ve found the app City Mapper absolutely indispensable for finding the right metro etc.”
Fran: “Easy! Paris is small so pretty much everywhere is walk-able, and the metro is quick and generally not unpleasant. Preferable to London.”
Phyllis: “I think getting very consciously lost in the city is the best way to experience it.”
Lorenzo: “Very easy due to its size, transport could be improved and be cheaper though”
Zac: “Pretty easy, it’s a small city and the metro is simple. Apart from Chatelet station… it’s huge”
What’s one must-do/ must-see thing for students in Paris?
Helen: “Do as the Parisians do and go and sit by the Seine with a bottle of wine on a Summer’s evening.”
Lorenzo: “Lives and realities for people outside the centre of Paris.”
Zac: “Sit by the Seine with wine and friends at day and night.”
Fran: “Look at all the museums that let you in for free if you’re an EU student (at least pre-Brexit).”
What’s the thing you miss most about home?
Zac: “Going out and not having service en salle; when you just go out for a beer, it’s weird to have a waiter.”
Helen: “Home friends! It’s hard being away from everyone at uni as they complete their final year.”
Fran: “Affordable supermarkets! Basics ranges! Meal deals!”
How is studying in France different from home?
Lorenzo: “Erasmus students are only required to pass, leaving more time to fully enjoy the course and the city.”
Helen: “Very different. I found that classes were bigger and a bit less personal. You’re examined much more through presentations and group work and less through formal written exams.”
Fran: “Studying is so so different – teachers and students seem more laid-back, there’s no central part of uni that organises timetables etc., and to be honest there can be a general lack of information and communication.”
Phyllis: “It is much more school-like, repetitive, frontal and reproductive. There is little space for developing, sharing or discussing untrodden paths.”
Zac: “Being a student in France is weird, there’s a different power dynamic between you and the teacher but the classes can be interesting.”
What’s one thing you brought with you that you didn’t need to?
Helen: “A duvet. I couldn’t decide if I needed to bring one, so I did just in case. It’s been great having the extra warmth this winter, but I’m not looking forward to lugging it back home again.”
Phyllis: “Derrida’s “Grammatology”. Still needs to be read :-(“
Lorenzo: “A duvet!!”
What’s something you were stressed about that turned out not to be a problem?
Fran: “Literally anything uni related.”
Phyllis: “I was stressed about finding a permanent place to stay, but due to immense luck that turned out to be very easy.”
Lorenzo: “Bank accounts.”
Zac: “Passing classes at uni.”
Helen: “Finding Marmite and Yorkshire tea. Turns out that you can get them from La Grand Épicerie, although they are much more expensive than in the UK.”
What’s one piece of practical advice you’d give to those thinking of doing study abroad in Paris?
Helen: “Don’t leave it until the last minute to find somewhere to live! You’ll have a lot to think about when you arrive in Paris, so it’s a good idea to do everything you can well in advance to make the transition easier.”
Click here to see our selection of studios in Paris .
Fran: “Make an effort to speak more French wherever you can!”
Phyllis: “Find fulfilling practices/discourses etc. outside of University (which shouldn’t be to difficult in Paris)”
Lorenzo: “Take the opportunity to study something you would otherwise not be able to study at home/study something which the institution is especially known for as you will get privileged training in that specific discourse.”
Zac: “Just go out and speak French, it’s worth any potential embarrassment and you could make new friends, you’ll certainly make memories”
We hope that this helps you to prepare as best you can for your study abroad experience! Remember to take every opportunity and enjoy every second, because you may never have another opportunity like this again. Bon voyage!
Are you looking for a studio in Paris?
Lodgis offers a fabulous selection of furnished apartments for rent. We offer a range of apartments perfect for students, with period features, spacious dining and living areas, terraces, elevator access…and just about anything!